It is only normal for people to want to save money, and in terms of acquiring a new car, one of the most common questions is whether or not one should buy a new car or lease one. There are all kinds of experts out there who say one way or the other is “always” the right answer, but the problem is that their “right answers” fall on both sides of that fence.
The real answer is that it depends on you and what you want to accomplish, as well as your car habits. For car habits, we are referring to how often you get a new car. Do you get a new car once every couple of years, or only when the wheels fall off the previous one? If you always need to have a late model car and don’t care that it really never gets paid off, then leasing is probably a better option for you.
How many miles do you typically drive over the course of a year? If you are a traveling salesman or a tech support person covering a large geographic area, meaning you put a lot of miles on your car, then leasing is almost certainly not your best option. Leasing programs are getting more flexible these days, allowing you to specify how many miles you will drive over the course of your lease, but if it works out to be much more than the standard 12,000 miles per year, you will probably find that the cost of leasing actually exceeds the cost of buying a new car.
Look at it like this. On a lease, the dealer needs to figure out what he can sell the car for at the end of your lease period, say two years. At 12k miles per year, a two year old car with only 24k miles on it will still demand a decent price if it’s in good shape, and allow the dealer to make a reasonable profit on the sale. But that same two year old car with 50k miles on it is going to sell for considerably less because of the much higher mileage, and your lease payments will reflect the fact that the value of that vehicle is going to be less, and YOU will be paying the difference in your lease payments.
With a lease, you never build up any equity in the car. It is like having a permanent car payment. Yes, at the end of the lease you can buy the car, but at that point you could probably get a better deal on a better used car, so that is an option that very few people take advantage of. On a lease, you still pay for insurance, tires, oil changes, and all the other stuff that you would pay for if you owned the car. In fact, you will always need to carry full insurance coverage on the car, whereas you can drop the expensive collision insurance on a car that you own after you have paid it off.
On the other hand, if you are using the car for business purposes, a lease will provide you with a bigger tax write-off than a purchase, generally speaking. Also with leasing, your monthly payment will typically be less, depending of course on the model of car you choose.
If your credit rating is less than stellar, you may wish to consider purchasing instead. While you can find car loan programs for people with average credit and even bad credit, it is much more difficult to find a good lease program for people with less than good credit because the risk to the dealer and manufacturer is greater.
You need to do your homework and determine which is the best way to go based on your driving habits and car ownership habits. There is no right answer that fits all people, so make the informed decision that is right for you.