Leasing a Car: 7 Reasons Why You Should Consider It

7 Reasons Leasing a Car May Be Smarter for You

Would you like to spend less money up-front, drive away from the dealership in a brand-new car, and spend less time and money on vehicle maintenance?

Consider leasing your next car.

What Does Leasing a Car Mean?

Leasing a car is a lot like renting one—but for a much longer period of time. When you buy a car, you own it after you’ve made all your monthly payments. When you lease a car, you make monthly payments, drive it for a set amount of time (usually about three years), and then give it back to the dealer when that time is up.

Then you get to decide what you want to do next with no strings attached—do you want to lease again or buy a car this time?

While leasing isn’t the perfect solution for everyone, it is absolutely worth considering. Here are seven reasons leasing a car might be the better option for you.

1. You Get to Drive Newer Cars

If you’re the kind of person who likes driving a new car, leasing your vehicle may be a better option than buying one. Cars depreciate quickly, so if you buy a new car, you’ll probably owe more than it’s worth not long after you make the initial purchase.

If you lease instead of buy, you can keep driving new cars indefinitely—just trade in your old lease for a new one every few years. That means you’ll have access to the latest features, like better navigation, back-up cameras, or music players. You could even lease an expensive car for an affordable monthly payment.

2. You Probably Pay Less Up-Front

Traditional car loans usually come with somewhat hefty down payments. But if you lease instead, you’ll likely have a lower down payment than you would with a normal loan. In fact, some dealers may not require a down payment at all.

This means you pay much less up-front so you can put that extra money toward home repairs, a vacation, or paying down existing debt.

3. You Get to Drive a Safer, More Reliable Car

When you lease, you’ll probably drive a newer car, which can be safer and more reliable. The newest cars have the most recent safety features and are compliant with current safety regulations that older cars might not meet.

Plus, since a newer car has less wear and tear, it’s less likely to break down and leave you stranded in an unsafe situation on the side of a fast highway or miles away from civilization.

4. You’ll Likely Spend Less on Repairs and Maintenance

Usually, a newer car needs fewer repairs, but when issues do come up, repairs will often cost less if you lease your vehicle. Most of the time, the vehicle you’re leasing will still be covered by the manufacturer’s warranty, so you won’t have to foot the bill for expensive repairs. There’s a good chance that basic maintenance, like oil changes, will also be covered in your lease agreement or car warranty. 

5. Your Monthly Payments Might Be Lower

When you lease a vehicle, you pay for the vehicle’s depreciation during the lease. When you buy, you’re paying taxes, fees, special finance charges, and the full price of the vehicle.

This means that monthly lease payments are usually lower than loan payments.

6. You Don’t Have to Worry about Selling Your Car

Selling a used car can be a hassle. With leasing, you skip it entirely. Instead, you drop the car off with the dealer when the lease is up. Then you’re free to lease a car again or purchase a new one without worrying about trade-in value or an ownership transfer.

7. You May Pay Less Sales Tax

If you buy a car, you pay taxes all at once for the full value of the vehicle. When you lease, you pay taxes on your monthly payment and spread that cost out over time, so there’s a good chance you’ll pay less sales tax.

Things to Remember about Leasing a Car

There are lots of great perks about leasing instead of buying, but it isn’t the perfect solution for every person. If you decide to lease a car, there are a few things you should remember.

  1. You Still Need to Get through a Credit Check

Leasing isn’t the same as a normal car loan, but it is still a form of financing, so a dealer will check your credit to make sure you’re eligible for a lease. In fact, you might need a higher credit score to lease than you would need to buy.

If you have a low credit score, you may pay a higher interest rate or be denied financing altogether. It is always wise to keep an eye on your credit report throughout the year to look for errors or other problems. For the best rates, make sure your credit is in good shape before you apply for financing.

  1. You May Have to Stick to a Mileage Limit

Leases come with mileage limitations. In most cases, that limitation will be somewhere between 10,000 and 12,000 miles per year. If you go over that limit, you pay extra fees for every extra mile—which can be costly.

Before you sign up for a lease, think carefully about how much you drive each year. Your daily commute is probably the biggest thing to consider, but all those little trips to the grocery store can also add up. If you drive more than 10,000 miles in a year, you may want to pay for extra miles or buy a car instead.

  1. You Get Charged for Extra Wear and Tear

Leases require you to keep the vehicle in good condition. If you turn it in with stains, scratches, dents, or dings, you’ll have to pay extra charges. Should you lease a car, take extra good care of it.

  1. You Could Be Penalized for Terminating the Lease Early

Car leases work a lot like other lease agreements. If you terminate your lease early, you may be subject to significant penalties and fees—just like you would be if you broke an apartment lease early.

  1. You Can’t Modify the Vehicle

Lease agreements have strict rules, and if you violate the agreement, you’ll be fined. Modifications will likely violate the warranty or lease terms—even if they’re modifications that you consider upgrades, such as shiny new rims or a more powerful sound system.

Should You Lease or Buy a Car?

Leasing is an excellent option if you’re comfortable with the limitations that are spelled out in the lease agreement. If you’re still on the fence, ask yourself the following questions to determine whether a lease is best for you:

  • How much do you drive each year? If you love going on epic road trips, leasing may not be the best option, but if you just need a car to get to and from work and around town, a lease would work well.
  • How much do you want to spend up-front? If you don’t have a large down payment saved up, you could get into a new car faster by leasing instead of buying.
  • Is driving a new car important to you? If you’re okay driving the same car for the next 10 to 15 years, you should probably just buy one. However, if you want to consistently drive newer vehicles, leasing is one of the easiest ways to do that.
  • Does vehicle maintenance frustrate you? Because leased cars are newer, they usually have fewer maintenance issues. And when those issues do come up, they’re often covered under the manufacturer’s warranty. If you don’t want to think too often about maintenance, leasing might be a good call.
  • Do you have good credit? Sometimes, you need better credit to lease a car than to buy one. If you’re still working on repairing your credit, you may have to purchase a car instead of leasing one.
  • Do you care more about short-term or long-term savings? Leasing is a great way to save on up-front costs. It also usually results in smaller monthly payments, which makes leasing a perfect option if you want to save money right now. However, in the long run, leasing may cost more than buying since you don’t own any property at the end of your lease.

When deciding whether leasing or buying a car is better for you, carefully consider all the various factors. It’s important to take your own needs and preferences into account to determine which is the most reasonable solution. Use the tips above and research local leasing options to ensure you pick the best one.
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Can I Get a Car Lease With Bad Credit?

Auto Loan Balances at an All-Time High

Your heart is set on a shiny, new set of wheels but your credit is tanked. Don’t despair; you’re not the first driver to face this dilemma. Car leases do exist for those with bad credit and may even help you beef up your score.

Here’s why: Monthly payments can be much lower for leased cars, they often fall under the manufacturer’s warranty and tend to require less money down upfront. Not missing a payment on your lease may also help you amp up your credit, making you that more attractive to lenders down the road.

If all that sounds good to you, here’s how to get started.

1. Check Your Credit

Before you apply for any auto lease, you need to know where your credit stands. That way you’ll have an idea of what type of lease you may qualify for. It may also prevent you from overpaying, lest you think your credit is worse than it actually is. (You can view two of your credit scores for free, updated each month, on Credit.com to see where you stand.)

2. Shop Around

Now that you’ve got your number, it’s time to go shopping. But first, some dating advice: Don’t fling yourself at every slick dealer who feeds you a line — take your time to find the right one. Don’t be afraid to ask questions if something sounds off. Your credit may stink, but you shouldn’t settle for an unfair agreement.

Something to keep in mind: every time a lender pulls your credit report, that’ll create a hard inquiry on your file, which could ding your credit score. But the vast majority of credit scoring models are smart enough to know you’re shopping around and will group your hard inquiries from different dealers into just one inquiry if you complete your shopping in a specific timeframe, ideally two weeks.

3. Be Realistic

If your score is less than 720, you may encounter some difficulties. This could mean a higher monthly payment, a hard time getting approved or being asked for a security deposit or percentage of the car’s cost upfront. (Some dealerships require the latter, but you can always volunteer to put more money down if you want a smaller monthly payment.)

It’s also helpful to go into the process with realistic expectations. You don’t have a perfect credit score, so you don’t want to overextend yourself and get a super expensive car lease you’re unable to actually pay. Make sure you opt for something that you really can afford like a compact or mid-sized car instead of a luxury sedan, for example. The monthly payments will likely be lower, and there’s no reason to push your budget to the limit if you’re already dealing with financial issues.

4. Explore Other Options

Still coming up short? There are options. You can ask a trusted friend or family member to co-sign your lease. If you choose to go this route, you should both be aware that if you fall behind on payments and the account becomes delinquent, that will appear on your co-signer’s credit report. Only do this if you feel you can manage the lease responsibly.

Another option would be a lease takeover, which is still subject to approval from the original lender. This allows you to take over a lease contract from someone who can no longer make the required payments, and is often easier to qualify for.

More on Auto Loans:

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The Most Common Car Repairs You Have to Make

How to Read a Car-Repair Estimate

When your car’s check engine light flicks on, the first thing that pops into your head is probably “how much is this going to cost me?” But new data show that for newer cars about half the time the problem is often as simple as a loose gas cap.

That doesn’t mean you should ignore the warning light, however. Common check engine repairs can range from a $15 gas cap replacement to a $1,100 catalytic converter replacement and everything else in between. The most common repair across makes, models and years is oxygen sensor replacement, whose average cost is around $250, according to the annual CarMD.com Vehicle Health Index, released Tuesday.

Repair costs around the country remained just about flat over 2015, with a 1.5% increase in parts costs offset by a modest 4% reduction in labor costs, CarMD.com Corp. says. (The firm gets its data from car computer readings — i.e., OBD2 codes — submitted by repair facilities; for the 2015 study, CarMD examined 1,019,904 repairs.)

Overall, the average repair cost in 2015 was $387.31 ($155.15 in labor, $232.16 in parts). That’s 8% less than the 10-year high of $422 in 2006. One big takeaway from the data: If you have a new car and the check engine light goes on, check your gas cap.

“The most common reason the check engine light comes on in a brand-new model year 2016 vehicle is due to a minor loose gas cap problem, accounting for 46% of check engine incidents on new vehicles last year,” the report said.

Another lesson: Mother Nature has a lot to say about car repair costs. “Vehicle owners in the Northeast saw the largest drop in average repair costs, which were down 6.5% from $418 in 2014 to $391 in 2015 due in part to the mild El Niño weather pattern,” the report said.

That’s the good news. The bad news is perhaps self-evident: The average cost to repair 2006 cars was $399, double the average repair cost of 2016 models (whose repairs were usually covered by warranty). Worse still, the second-most common repair involved those pricey catalytic converters. Rounding out the top five were replacements for the “ignition coil and spark plug” ($390), gas cap replacements and checks and thermostat replacements ($210). New to the top 10 most common repairs were evaporative emissions purge control or solenoid replacements, which both cost just less than $200.

“One of the best ways to minimize cost of ownership and help reduce unforeseen car repairs is to follow a regular maintenance program and take care of small problems as soon as you’re aware of them, particularly as vehicles age,” said David Rich, CarMD’s technical director. A simple spark plug failure can snowball from a $50 part into a $400 repair, the firm said.

“Over the years, we have observed that climate and weather patterns has some impact on type and frequency of repairs,” Brocoff said. During 2013, when the Polar Vortex hit, car repair costs were up 6% across the U.S. and 9% in the hard-hit Midwest and Northeast. Battery, transmission and thermostat repairs shot up. Also, spark plugs were the fourth-most common reason for check engine light issues.

“This past 2015 calendar year, during which the U.S. experienced an El Niño weather pattern, spark plugs were only the eighth-most common reason for check engine light issues,” she said. “Battery replacements are not listed on the 10 most common repairs this year.”

Take a look at the top 10 car repairs of 2015:

  1. Replacing an oxygen sensor – $249
  2. Replacing a catalytic converter – $1,153
  3. Replacing ignition coil(s) and spark plug(s) – $390
  4. Tightening or replacing a fuel cap – $15
  5. Thermostat replacement – $210
  6. Replacing ignition coil(s) – $236
  7. Mass air flow sensor replacement – $382
  8. Replacing spark plug wire(s) and spark plug(s) – $331
  9. Replacing evaporative emissions (EVAP) purge control valve – $168
  10. Replacing evaporate emissions (EVAP) purging solenoid – $184

For those who lose sleep over repair bills, owning a car may not be the best option. But if you’re eyeing a lease, you still need to make sure your credit score is up in good shape, lest you get turned away. You can view your two free credit scores, updated monthly, on Credit.com.

More on Auto Loans:

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