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What I’ve Learned About Leasing a Car

Is it that time for you? Has either your 3-year car lease come up? Or have you totaled your car and need a new one? Or are you just tired of bringing your 10-year old lemon into the mechanic every other weekend? Whatever the case may be, I’ve leased a car since I’ve been old enough to drive, amounting to now 5 leases, (please do not calculate my age based off of that math) and thus inadvertently I have learned a thing or two in the process. If you’re taking the plunge into the world of leased cars, be sure to consider the following before doing so…

  • Do your research: Before going into the dealership, always do your research. Get online and check out what is out there, get a sense for which type of car and make you are looking for and narrow it down from there. Once you’ve done that, you should dig deeper, find out what the true market value is for each of these cars so you can come prepared to the negotiation table.
  • Go in prepared to negotiate: As a woman, I’ve seen the look in the car salesmen eyes when they see an easy target. NEVER accept their first offer. If you’ve done your research properly, you know what the car is really worth. Understand that the dealership is trying to make the most money possible off of you so they are going to highball their first 1-5 offers.
  • Inquire about car specials: Believe it or not, certain cars will have special incentives. Depending on a number of different factors you can get a “higher value” car during a certain time of year compared to others. For example, my mom drives a VW Passat and pays less money than I do for my VW Jetta because during the time of year that she happened to lease her car, they were running a great special. These special deals could a result of a number of different factors; either because they have too much inventory that they need to push off the lot, or it could simply be the end of the year and/or end of the month and thus the dealership is looking to make a quota, or that particular model is segueing into a new body type. Whatever the case may be, it is always a good idea to inquire which models they are running deals on (even if it’s not the one you have your heart set on) in order to consider all your options.
  • Never put a large amount down: Because leases are in a simplified sense of the word, “rent” you never want to put a lot of money down. While putting money down can help reduce your monthly payments, unlike a purchased car that you walk away with once the payments are finished, simply put, you will never see that money again once the lease expires.
  • Consider mileage: Take it from someone who drives A LOT, it is crucial to take mileage into consideration when leasing a car. Lease terms will generally offer you either 10,000, 12,000 or 15,000 miles per year. If you go over these miles at the end of your lease term, you WILL pay extra for it.

While leasing a car has always been the right decision for me, it may not be for everyone. Be sure to take into consideration what you want – do you drive a lot and thus need unlimited miles at your disposal? Then maybe purchasing a car is right for you. Are you looking to have something to show for all the money you’ve spent over the course of 3-4 years? Again, maybe purchasing a car is the right way to go for you. Or are you looking for cheaper payments a month right now? Then maybe leasing is the way to go. Are you looking to get into a new car every 3-4 years? Then again, maybe leasing is right for you. Whatever you decide, be sure to keep all of these tips in mind when heading into the dealership. They may just end up saving you, hundreds, if not, thousands of dollars in the long run!