8 Biggest Disadvantages to Leasing a Car
Let's take a look at some of the major pitfalls.
1. Expensive in the Long RunWhen you lease, you're basically paying for the use of the vehicle for the first 2 or 3 years of its life - when the car depreciates the most. When your lease is over, you either have to lease another car or purchase one - either way you're going to have monthly payments for a long time, whereas if you purchased a car to begin with, you would essentially drive it payment-free after you've paid off the loans.
2. Limited MileageMost leases have driving limits of between 10,000 and 15,000 miles per year. Anything over this amount will be penalized at a very high rate.
3. High Insurance CostMany people are surprised to learn that insuring a leased car can be way more expensive than they thought. Most leasing companies require you to get a higher level of insurance coverage on the vehicle - usually up to $300,000 in liability coverage. This can make your insurance payments a lot higher than if you had purchased a car instead.
4. ConfusingDealers love leasing because most people don't understand how it works. There are many ways dealers can pad their profits when you lease a car. Unless you're extremely careful and thorough, you could end up paying a lot more than you should.
5. Hard to CancelLeasing is like signing a rental agreement. You can't just walk away from it - there are stiff penalties if you do. If you purchased a vehicle instead, you could always sell it if you don't want it anymore. With a lease, it's practically impossible to terminate, although there are some options available.
6. Requires Good CreditIf you have bad credit, don't even think about leasing. Overall financing costs during a lease are always higher than a loan because you never pay off any principal. Besides, most leasing companies require you to have a decent level of credit and a stable financial situation.
7. Lots of FeesThere are many fees associated with leasing that you won't find anywhere else. In order to lease, you'll need to pay an acquisition fee of at least $400, and a disposition fee of at least $200 at the end of the lease. In addition, there are an assortment of excessive "wear and tear" fees that you could be liable for when you turn in the vehicle. Leasing companies are notorious for charging high fees for small dings and scratches - so you need to be extra careful taking care of the vehicle as you drive.
8. No CustomizationsIf you like customizing your vehicle, forget about it. At the end of a lease, you need to return the vehicle in the same condition and configuration as you received it. This means no engine modifications, paint, or accessories such as spoilers.
My Recommendation for Car ShoppersTrueCar No-Haggle, Edmunds Price Promise and 1-800 Car Show are the quickest way to see the lowest car prices in your area. These sites show you no-haggle prices from dealers closest to you - and the deals are usually really good. This should be the first step you take when negotiating your car price. Follow this up with my checklist to make sure you squeeze out every last bit of savings.
- Gregg Fidan
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About: Gregg Fidan
Gregg Fidan + is the founder of RealCarTips. After being ripped off on his first car purchase, he devoted several years to figuring out the best ways to avoid scams and negotiate the best car deals. He has written hundreds of articles on the subject of car buying and taught thousands of car shoppers how to get the best deals.