How to Lease a Car and Get the Best Deal
- Over time, the cost of leasing several cars will likely exceed the purchase price of a new or used car.
- Don’t tell a car dealer you plan to lease until after you’ve negotiated the car’s purchase price.
- Beware salespeople who focus only on your monthly payment will be. Stay aware of the total price you’ll pay, including down payment and monthly bills.
To lease a car, you simply make a small down payment less than the typical 20% of a car s value you d pay to buy followed by monthly payments for the term of the lease. When the term expires, you return the car.
Exceeding the mileage limits on your lease can cost you 10 to 15 cents per mile. The dealer will inspect your car just before the lease expires, and you ll also be charged for excessive wear and tear.
• Step 2. Pick your models— Make a list of car types in your price range. You can reduce non-lease costs by including models with favorable gas mileage, high dependability, top safety features and low insurance premiums (ask your auto insurance agent for a list of vehicles that fit the bill).
• Step 3. Take a test drive— Once you’ve narrowed your list to a few models, take each car for a test drive. Pay particular attention to comfort, visibility, braking, steering, internal noise and shock-absorption. At this stage, don’t yet mention you intend to lease (more on this in Step 6).
• Step 4. Ask about safety— During your test drive, ask the salesperson whether the vehicle comes with anti-lock brake systems (ABS), electronic stability control (ESC) and head-protecting side air bags. All are valuable safety features.
• Step 6. Talk price first— Once you’re ready to return to a dealership to strike a deal, don’t tell the dealer you plan to lease until after you’ve negotiated a purchase price. Most people who lease are unaware that their monthly payments will be based on the final agreed-upon price.
• Step 7. Negotiate up— Negotiate the final price of the vehicle up from the rock-bottom cost to the dealership. You can find out what new cars cost a dealer for $14 per vehicle at Consumer Reports. Your monthly payments will be based on the price you and the salesperson settle on. That price will fall somewhere between the dealer’s wholesale price and the manufacturer s suggested retail price.
• Step 8. Beware of gab— Your salesperson may try to push you toward closing the deal by focusing on the relatively low amount you’ll have to pay each month. This, however, will add to the total amount you ll pay.
• Step 9. Paying the Lease— The larger your initial down payment, the lower your monthly tab will be. As with any bill, you ll face penalties if you fail to make payments on time. Turning in your leased car early, before the loan term ends will typically result in a penalty—unless you are trading in the car for another leased or purchased car.