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When does leasing a car make financial sense?

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Andrew Overby
Andrew Overby
7 months ago

Generally, it doesn’t. Leasing is usually not the best course of action. I’ve definitely been put off by high prices on used vehicles before (never even wanting to buy new).

I’ve worked with a car expert to help with my buying, thought. I would recommend doing the same. I know of some in the Northeast. There’s a service in Central Texas that helps people save thousands on their car. Might be something similar in your area too.

(Just for reference: https://www.caradviser.co/.)

BenefitJack
BenefitJack
7 months ago

Have never leased a car. Historically, for decades (since 1980), bought used cars and ran them until upkeep became a significant issue ($500+ repair threshold). In 2006, 2009 and 2017, bought new Hyundai sedans (Sonata, Elantra, Sonata). Paid $17,000, $15,000 (cash for clunker), and $21,000, respectively. Donated 2006 after it achieved 294,000 miles with minimal repairs (brakes became an issue). Still driving 2009 Elantra (160,000 miles) and 2016 Sonata (55,000 miles). We will both be in our 70’s when we have to make another car decision – likely not before the Sonata’s warranty runs out at 10 years/100,000 miles – January 2027. Current plan is to donate 2009 Elantra (likely to have 225,000+ miles, 16 years old), keep 2016 Sonata, and lease a 2027 Hyundai sedan. Today, with $2,999 down/36 months, I can get a gas Elantra for $169/mo, a hybrid for $189/mo, a gas Sonata for $189/mo and a hybrid Sonata for $219/mo.) Five years later, let go of 2016 Sonata and reduce to one lease (rent for any long trips). I think we have bought our last car. Your thoughts?

Edwin Belen
Edwin Belen
7 months ago

I wanted to say never but you never say never. With car sharing in most large areas, I can make an argument that unless you’re still working, it almost doesn’t make sense to lease or even have a car considering all the costs outside of purchase or lease.

My wife and I personally like having our own cars but we could share if we chose. It all comes down to preference.

Adam Grossman
Adam Grossman
11 months ago

One situation in which a lease can make sense is with a new electric car. Because the technology is changing so quickly, it’s harder to know what the resale value will be the down the road. In general, I don’t think leases are a good deal, but this is one situation in which a lease might be beneficial.

Scrooge_McDuck88
Scrooge_McDuck88
1 year ago

If you frequently plan on trading to new models every 3-4 years. At least with leasing you know your sunk cost, and if you get in an accident, you don’t have to worry about a carfax.

Last edited 1 year ago by Scrooge_McDuck88
Mark Hirsch
Mark Hirsch
1 year ago

We used to buy and hold cars. In fact, we still have a 2011 Toyota Corolla. But we began leasing once we retired to our old beach house. No garage and the daily ocean spray eats metal. Now we lease and move to a new vehicle every three years in self defense. The Corolla looks terrible, but still works well locally. Once that’s no longer the case, I’m afraid we’ll be leasing 2 vehicles.

Ben Rodriguez
Ben Rodriguez
1 year ago

I was inclined to say “never.” But my mother-in-law, a very frugal and well-off retiree, may end up leasing for the remainder of her life now. She doesn’t want the hassle of even the most minimal maintenance. She’s earned it.

Mike Zaccardi
Mike Zaccardi
1 year ago

This is one of those situations where one must carefully consider what they really like and are going to do anyway. What’s the base case? For spendthrift folks, they will buy new cars every few years because they like them or maybe because their job requires a fancy vehicle. If so, then leasing makes sense so that you can avoid the huge depreciation early in a car’s life.

For most people though, leasing a vehicle is a poor financial decision. Buying a slightly used car and owning, maintaining it well, and owning it many years allows someone to pour more money into investments (or use the extra cash flow for fun).

Also consider the new WFH environment. Maybe you won’t even need a car very much–that’s even more incentive to own a more utilitarian vehicle.

tshort
tshort
1 year ago

It makes sense when the total annualized cost of the lease, including signing amount and insurance, is equal to or less than the annualized depreciation, loan interest, maintenance and insurance for a purchased car.

When I was in high school my father worked for a car company in Detroit that offered employees subsidized car leases for family members that were below market and included insurance. This was a no-brainer.

I’ve seen lease deals advertised by manufacturers that sometimes come close to that – $199 month including insurance, with a small signing amount

I don’t do it. We buy a good used five-year-old vehicle with 50,000 – 90,000 miles on it, drive it for five or six years, and then sell it. It ends up costing us about $1500-$2500/year in depreciation and maintenance. Insurance is on top of that. Tough to beat those numbers on a lease, as long as you don’t mind driving an older vehicle. Toyota/Lexus has worked well for us – they go forever.

Rick Connor
Rick Connor
1 year ago

If your company or self-owned business will pay for a lease, it may make sense. My brothers both lease cars, where I buy keep till they die. They like driving a relatively new car, and trying new models. It would be interesting to compare that to buying, and selling after 2–3 years. With the growth of car-buying companies that make it easy to sell, it might be an alternative. I have a friend who wanted a high end Audi convertible. For some reason they would not budge on price, but negotiated substantially on a lease. He felt he got a great deal on the lease.

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