Just how do you spot a good car lease? How exactly do you find the best personal car leasing deals?
Leasing is often touted as an affordable way to stay current with the latest and greatest vehicles and industry trends. You get to drive a different car every few years, so you’re not stuck with one thing longer than you want, nor will age, wear, and tear start piling up repair bills and breakdowns on you. However, in quite a few cases, the jury has yet to render a verdict on leasing overall. There are great deals out there, but there are even more than might not stand up to scrutiny, so it’s hard to sometimes differentiate between the absolutely great deals and those that are just industry exercises in selling hype without detail or integrity.
Finding the best personal car leasing deals is the secret to sorting the good deals from the mediocre or even the atrocious. First of all, you have to discern what down payments might be required for the lease. If you’re not sure what a down payment is in the case of a lease, it’s the lump sum amount that you would have to pay in advance of the lease. That’s typically in cash, but it might also be non-cash credit or even a trade-in allowance that’s applied towards reducing the monthly payments. Think twice before doing this on any lease, because it’s typically a bad deal. While many down payments or deposits might be required for the security and peace of mind of the leasing company that they’re not handing out cars to just anyone, you need to keep in mind that down payment money is not typically something you get back at the end of a lease, although a security deposit might be. One huge risk you take here is that if your car gets stolen or damaged, then your insurance is not likely to cover the gap loss that results from money upfront.
You also need to be mindful of mileage limits. The traditional lease is going to cap you at 45,000 free miles spread over a 36-month span. That might seem like a lot at first, but have you ever considered how much you actually drive? Topping 15,000 miles in just one year isn’t hard if you commute to work. You can do it in half or even a quarter of that time if you travel. Even those that work at home can easily rack up 15,000 miles. When you exceed mileage limits, penalties for each additional mile might go as much as 20 cents per mile. If you just go 4,000 miles over per year, then you can wipe out thousands of dollars in penalties. You can get around them if you buy the car, but then that defeats the purpose of swapping out for new vehicles and not owning something that will start wearing down. Be pragmatic and stay grounded about your actual mileage needs, particularly if you have long-distance commutes. The best personal car leasing deals may have higher caps and lower penalties for going over. Try hard to pad your estimates regarding expected mileage use in advance, since it’s cheaper to budget your miles in advance than pay extras for going over at the end of the lease.
Sales tax is something else you need to watch out for, as it is typically capitalized and added to each monthly payment. On the other hand, a number of dealers don’t actually choose to include such figures in their calculations. They do that so that their advertised lease payments appear even lower. In order to check for this, look into the fine print or the small print, which somewhere would say that the monthly payments don’t include ‘sales tax’. Be sure you read the fine print carefully for all hidden or extra costs that aren’t covered by the specifically advertised monthly payments. Unscrupulous fees that might slip through include not just sales tax but also title fees and registration.
One great perk to look out for in great personal leases is included maintenance. While a new car won’t need a lot of love under the hood, it will need some. Look for a car or vehicle that has oil changes and other routine appointments included in the lease contract so all you have to do is show up and get the work done.