Technically speaking you are free to purchase a vehicle as soon as your bankruptcy has been filed. However, if you want to finance your next vehicle purchase you will need to wait until after the bankruptcy has been filed. A bank will not finance a vehicle purchase before the bankruptcy has been discharged. So if you need to purchase a car after the bankruptcy has been filed but before it is discharged you will need to pay cash for it.
Believe it or not once you file for bankruptcy you will get inundated with offers from car dealerships to sell and finance you a new car. Bankruptcy records are public and so car dealerships buy lists of everyone who has filed for bankruptcy and send them mailers. These car dealerships aren’t willing to extend you credit because they want to help you to improve your credit score or because they’re trying to help you get back on your feet. They do it in large part because you are not able to file bankruptcy again for 8 more years. This means that if for some reason you are not able to make your car payments and they repossess your car. The bank will be able to sue you for their losses and garnish you wages. The difference now is that there is nowhere to run and nowhere to hide; you will not be able to seek shelter in bankruptcy. You will be garnished until you pay them in full.
Be sure that you can afford the new vehicle you are buying and that you are not starting the debt cycle all over again. These post-bankruptcy car loans come with very high interest rates and in turn inflated car payments. Filing for bankruptcy gives you the opportunity for a fresh start and a second chance; don’t squander the opportunity to live debt free because someone is willing to sell you a shiny new car.
So if you need to purchase a car after filing for bankruptcy you best bet is to purchase something for cash.