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Leasing vs. Purchasing

Kirstie_HKirstie_H Posts: 10,824
Can't decide which is better for you? Want the upsides & downsides for each? This is the place to start!

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  • You always lose in the end with a lease. I am in financial planning and leasing is only good for business owners who can write it off. Leasing is only financially beneficial to the Auto Dealer, not to the consumer. But getting a $35k or $60k car for half the payment to buy per month usually is to tempting for people in our "I want it now" society. Seriously reconsider leasing a car if you can. Just imagine, do you think a dealer would actually give you the residual price for a car if you were trading it in to them after 3 years? No, so why are you going to pay the residual value for a car you could get for less? It's a win-win for the Auto Dealer. You give them thousands of dollars up front, rent the car and then buy it from them for a premium at the end...if you even buy it. And if you don't you have nothing to show for it. It's a vicious cycle.
  • kyfdxkyfdx Posts: 27,671
    This is really an over-simplification.. And the auto dealer? He makes the same, whether you lease or buy..

    If your car isn't worth the residual at lease end? You walk away, secure in the knowledge that you came out ahead by leasing... If you bought the car, you would have lost that extra depreciation.. Now, the bank has to eat it..

    Leasing isn't for everyone, and can sometimes be a bad deal.. but, your advice is way off base, and your reasoning is just plain wrong.

    regards,
    kyfdx

    MODERATOR
    Prices Paid, Lease Questions, SUVs

  • That reasoning makes no sense. In fact, it is generally a very bad idea to purchase a car at lease end- UNLESS the car is easily worth more than the purchase price. But that is extremely rare.

    I will also present you with my situation, in which it is preferable to lease. I own an older A8- probably worth about 12-13k. My wife has one year left worth of payments on her SUV, at which point we will own it free and clear. I don't want to get hit with additional car payments right now, and typically like to change vehicles every three years or so (A BIG FACTOR IN LEASING). So...I am going to sell my Audi, use the proceeds to pay my lease for a few years, and then have a year left on my lease while my wife continues to drive her Land Cruiser into the ground for the foreseeable future.

    Anyway, there are many situations where leasing is not a bad option. For those of us who like to have a "change of scenery" every few years, purchasing is often not wise. Why own a car during the time when it takes it's steepest drop in value when you are going to sell it just as that drop starts to level off?

    Take my A8. Bought it cash in '00. 66k+. Four years later, I can get maybe 13k for it. Now, if it had a few less miles, MAYBE high teens into 20. But not higher than that. So.....46k for four years. That equates to a shade under 1k a month. A little higher than a lease would be, and that doesn't factor in tax on my sale on either side- which probably bumps it over 1k/month for ownership.

    If you are talking Toyota/Lexus, etc.- where I KNOW I can drive a vehicle for 5+ years without the very high possibility of significant upkeep (which IS the case with Audi- and if you disagree you've never owned many German cars out of warranty. Just takes one little problem....) then it is certainly a good idea to purchase.

    In fact, in a world where most people cannot afford to car jump every few years, purchasing a car- long term- is the obvious choice. No question. If you were on the toyota corrolla board, I'd say you wouldn't find many who disagree with you.

    But....in the area of luxury automobiles, the decision is often much less clear. In years past, Audi has offered some excellent incentives on their leases (my sister leased an '01 A6 for $379, that stickered for 39k) where it made a ton of sense to lease.

    I don't love to gamble, which is what I feel owning an Audi over 50k miles equates to. I can afford to buy/lease the car, but don't love $3500 service calls.
  • steine13steine13 Posts: 2,411
    "But getting a $35k or $60k car for half the payment to buy per month usually is to tempting for people in our 'I want it now' society."
    Agreed. But like beer, just cuz some can't handle it don't mean it's a bad idea.

    "You give them thousands of dollars up front, rent the car and then buy it from them for a premium at the end...if you even buy it."
    Usually, the trick is not to buy it and let THEM own the car for the overinflated residual.

    "And if you don't you have nothing to show for it."
    Sure you do. 3 years or so of trouble-free, fixed-price transportation. And if you get into a $5k accident, the diminished value is someone else's problem.

    We own our cars, but as an example, I've got 14 payments left, at $555 per, on our 03 Sienna. If I'd'a leased it, the payment would have been $200 less per month, easily. And if Toyota would have kicked in a few incentives, it might have been $250/month... saving $300/month or a cool $11k. The numbers are ok, btw, Honda ran $260 per on the Odyssey recently.

    So... the way I see it, it comes down to this: What do I want in my hand after 3 years... the title to a 3-year-old van, or $11k cash? It is not a trivial question, depends a lot on the details.

    Hoping you're a little more careful with your advice in your chosen profession, I remain
    -Mathias
  • stickguystickguy Posts: 14,170
    I agree that the real debate is whether it's better (financially) to get a new car every three years, or buy and hold for a long time.

    Once that decision is made, leasing just becomes a financing option (which in reality it always was).

    The best thing that can happen with a lease is the residual was set way to high. That means you paid less to own the car the you really "should" have (in other words, you used more of the value than estimated), and you turn it in and walk away. If you would rather buy it out, find a different one for less in the open market, or negotiate a realistic buy price on your car (if possible).

    Yes, if the residual is too low, you can buy for less than it's worth, but you already paid for the extra depreciation (that didn't happen), so at best you are getting your money back.

    To me, leasing makes sense when the subsidized programs (ie, the $260 Odyssey EX) are too good to pass up, or you want to own a luxury car, but only under warranty.

    2013 Acura RDX (wife's), 2007 Volvo S40 (when daughter lets me see it), 2000 Acura TL (formerly son's, now mine again), and new Jetta SE (son's first new car on his own dime!)

  • jlawrence01jlawrence01 Posts: 1,828
    I am not a great fan on consumer leasing in general. In many cases, I have seen people get, well, fleeced. On the other hand, I have seen some pretty good deals for those people who drive ONLY newer vehicles.

    My issue (and why I advise many against leasing) is that like most financial transactions, if you don't understand what you are doing, you will get taken every time. You better understand the concept of the capitalized cost, the imputed interest rate, how to terminate the lease, and the costs that will be incurred at the termination of the lease.

    The people who get killed only seem to know one thing - the monthly payment. They sign up for 12k mileage leases when they commute 15k miles a year.
  • stickguystickguy Posts: 14,170
    You are right that leasing is much more confusing to the average buyer, and that traditionally it has been much easier to pull what my be considered "sleight of hand" tricks to pad the bottom line (what was referred to above as fleecing).

    Yes, people have to know what they are siging, but it is really easy to lose $$ on a lease contract, although maybe it got better with the regulations regarding disclosure (probably not if people still don't read).

    That low payment really does suck you in, but at least with a lease, if the payment is comfortable and you can walk away at the end, you can't be too bad off (assuming you aren't way the heck over the mileage limit).

    2013 Acura RDX (wife's), 2007 Volvo S40 (when daughter lets me see it), 2000 Acura TL (formerly son's, now mine again), and new Jetta SE (son's first new car on his own dime!)

  • pernaperna Posts: 533
    But we pulled the trigger on the 36 month lease on the wife's Explorer. Reasons:

    1. The depreciation on Explorers makes buying them suicide.

    2. Wife wasn't in love with it, but we needed something big and reliable. Babies (more specifically, the items that must accompany babies) take up ridiculous amounts of space.

    3. Ford was running a ridiculously cheap lease deal. Plus we got A-plan through her dad.

    She is in love with the new Freestyles, so we *may* buy one of those instead of lease next time. The goal, really, is to find a car you love enough to drive until after it's long paid off. I'm 2 years into a 5 year Maxima loan, and unless financial hardship hits I plan on driving that car for the remainder of the decade (the downside to Maximas is they're somewhat expensive to insure). It was a 1.9% loan so the money's cheap, and what a great car. I really can't see how I'd be happier with anything else. I ride in friends' Camries, Accords, Impalas, SUVs, etc., and they all pale in comparison to the Nissan. I think I'm going to be one of those people who, in 30 years, has owned 3-4 Maximas.
  • jlawrence01jlawrence01 Posts: 1,828
    With a lease, you know roughly what your cost per mile of ownership is at the inception of the contract (assuming that you bring the car back in decent shape and all of that). There is no downside risk.

    For tightwads like myself, there is little UPSIDE in a lease. If it is a great vehicle and is extremely reliable, you have to turn it in (or pay the contract amount which could be more than the vehicle is worth on the current market).

    Of course, I am making several assumptions:

    1) the individual can afford to make the payment throughout the term of ownership.
    2) that the deal does not include a bunch of added mop & glo stuff etc.

    I make a dozen buy vs. lease decisions on vehicles, office equipment, etc. each year. I have set up a couple of forms to help me evaluate which is a better deal. That tends to put off a lot of the salesmen who are pushing the leases. I tell them that without all of the information, they don't get the business. PERIOD.
  • That isn't exactly a newsflash. The same can be said for people who finance!

    Volkswagen is currently offering lease deals with a money factor of nearly 0. In other words, the only thing you pay for is the car's depreciation, not interest. But unlike a 0% financing deal, the person who leases the VW won't be "buried" in 3 years time. If you like your car, exercise the purchase option. If you don't like it, dump it. If you're nervous about owning a German car with a turbo engine off warranty, exchange it for a new one.

    All seems pretty straightforward to me.

    In truth, if the issue is about what makes the most financial sense, everyone would be buying 3 to 4 year-old used Buick, and would drive it until the wheels fell off.
  • I think some of the people who are anti-leasing probably had a sour experience with it in the past. All you need to do is your homework. With the money factor and residual number at your fingertips, you can quickly strip away all leasing "hocus pocus" and negotiate a good vehicle selling price in the same way as if you were paying cash.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,603
    You are totally wrong about residual values. The residual is carefully calculated to insure the cars will bring that much later at auction.

    In other words, the residual should be at or below the car's projected WHOLESALE value therefore making it a great value should the person leasing it decide to buy it at lease end.

    Now, having said that, some car companies have made some horrible mistakes in the past. For today's sales, they have mortaged tomorrow by setting residuals that are too high in order to have attractive payments. When the people leasing them walked away at lease end, those cars brought THOUSANDS less at auction! Jeep did this and so did Audi and a couple of others.

    Hopefully these car companies learned their lesson!
  • bobstbobst Posts: 1,783
    Hopefully, those companies have not learned their lesson. They the consumers can keep leasing cars for an unrealistic low price.
  • I was under the impression that many leasing companies buy insurance policies against the a decline in the residual value, which effectively locks in their exposure at the time the vehicle is leased. This is why many leasing companies refuse to negotiate the lease buyout price. At least this is what I've heard elsewhere.

    Also, since you sell Hondas, hasn't Honda been a tad high on their residual values in the past? Those two year $260 month Odyssey leases quickly comes to mind.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,603
    Make Honda a good car company to lease from. High residuals equate to lower payments.

    And, yes, a couple of times I can think of, Honda went a bit overboard and took some hits. I've never heard of any type of "insurance" against this.
  • stickguystickguy Posts: 14,170
    I think Terry has mentioned it in the past. But, for whatever reason, many lease companies won't negotiate (or if they will, you will have a heck of a time getting to someone that can do it).

    2013 Acura RDX (wife's), 2007 Volvo S40 (when daughter lets me see it), 2000 Acura TL (formerly son's, now mine again), and new Jetta SE (son's first new car on his own dime!)

  • danf1danf1 Posts: 935
    The main bank that I use for leasing does purchase insurance for their residual values.
    Because of this, they will not allow you to turn in your lease early even if it is paid in full. They require turn in within 30 days of lease maturity.
  • I have a 2000 Passat that's starting to show its age (including rising maint. costs). My new job is around the corner so I'm barely driving 10 miles a day, but the car is the only option for getting there so reliability is key. Also, I tend to drive a lot of execs around so a newish car is sort of required.

    Anyone think I'm way off base? I would appreciate your thoughts.
  • stickguystickguy Posts: 14,170
    Well, you sound as much like a candidate as anyone.

    2013 Acura RDX (wife's), 2007 Volvo S40 (when daughter lets me see it), 2000 Acura TL (formerly son's, now mine again), and new Jetta SE (son's first new car on his own dime!)

  • Kirstie_HKirstie_H Posts: 10,824
    My opinion: Sure! You can probably get a nicer car for less money, especially if you would be taking a 60-month loan on a purchased vehicle. Plus, my own experience is that it's easier to negotiate the inclusion of maintenance items (e.g., oil changes) on a leased vehicle since they've got an interest in having the vehicle well maintained.

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