So, I'm still looking for a car.
I finally drove down to the dealership that had preapproved me, the dealership that claimed that they "finance everyone, no matter what!" I knew I couldn't be choosy about what car I ended up with; it had to meet certain criteria from a financing standpoint, but otherwise I just had to take whatever I could afford. One of the salesmen I've been talking to on the phone for the last few weeks was there, and he showed me a decent used car: not sexy, not exactly what I wanted, but okay and driveable. Then, we went back into the dealership and they started the financing process. And my "guaranteed preapproved we finance everyone" dealership? Yeah, not so much.
I feel like my credit can't really be that bad. Sure, I had a shitty job when I got here and I couldn't afford to pay more than rent and food for a few months. But, I'm back on track, on time payments for everything. I don't have any bankruptcies. No liens. No judgements against me. I make decent money. I'm not looking for an expensive car; at most, I'll be financing about $6,000. So, why is this impossible? I've tried everything I can think of, apart from begging a friend to be a cosigner (something I'm really uncomfortable with). It looks like I'm worse off than someone who's unemployed, declared bankruptcy twice and owes more on their house than it's worth. It's pretty frustrating, but I guess this is just one more learning experience.
Hell if I know what I'm supposed to be learning.