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Determine If You Should Buy or Lease a Vehicle

Maybe you haven't looked at the pros and cons of buying versus leasing a vehicle, but in certain circumstances, leasing can help you save. Martin L. Wertheim, CPA PC, offers the advantages and disadvantages here.


Contact us for all your budgeting, as well as for tax planning, estate planning, and other financial services.

Advantages of leasing a vehicle

• You can make a small down payment of $750 to $2,500. If you have excellent credit, you may even be able to pay zero or only a nominal amount.

• You can return the car to the dealer after a specified period, such as 24 to 36 months.

• The dealer is responsible for disposing of the vehicle when you return it.

• Often the extended warranty covers the major components of the vehicle during the lease, so your auto repair expenses are limited.

• When you lease, you are financing only the spread, which is the cost of the new vehicle minus the residual at the end of the lease. So if your new vehicle costs $30,000, is leased for 3 years and the residual value is $18,000, you are only borrowing $12,000. Divide that lease figure into 36 equal payments and it equals $333.33 per month (plus you will pay any interest, which is generally pretty competitive). Call us at 516-671-0427 for a detailed explanation.

• At the end of the lease, you may have the option to purchase the vehicle at a price determined during the lease signing. Many times the dealer will finance.

Call 516-671-0427 for more information or to schedule an appointment.

Disadvantages of leasing a vehicle

You are allotted a certain number of miles annually when you lease a vehicle, and you will have to pay a fee if you exceed that limit.


For example, if you have a 15,000-mile annual allowance, and 45,000 miles over 3 years, but end up putting 55,000 miles on the vehicle, you will have to pay a fee on the 10,000 extra miles.


In this example, if the fee was 15 cents per mile, you would owe the dealer an extra $1,500 at the end of the lease.

Advantages of owning a vehicle

• The personal satisfaction of owning an asset.

• If you typically put a low number of miles on a vehicle, say 6,000 to 10,000 miles per year, it probably makes sense to own it.

• Ownership allows you to own a classic car, such as a Model T Ford, Ford Mustang, or Chevy Camaro.

Disadvantages of owning a vehicle

• You probably will need a substantial down payment, such as $5,000 to $20,000.

• Your monthly payment, if you don't buy outright, will be based on the entire cost of the vehicle, not just the difference between the cost of the new vehicle and a residual value.

• You are responsible for selling the vehicle once you no longer want it.

• You are responsible for vehicle maintenance for as long as you own it.

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