Three years ago I leased a new car and thought it was a pretty darn good idea. I loved the fact that I could just basically “borrow” a car for three years and then give it back without any questions asked.
On Monday my lease expired and I turned it in.
Many of the benefits I listed in that first article still apply. The residual value in my contract was around $14,000. According to Kelley Blue Book, my car would only sell for about $13,000 if I tried to sell it on craigslist. That’s a great deal for me.
However, there are some really crappy things about a lease that I hadn’t considered when I first got the car. I will never lease a car again, and here’s why.
Minor Body Damage Can Mean Major Costs
When you sign up for a lease you understand that you have to give the car back in three years. That means you have to take care of the car and make sure it’s in good enough shape that you won’t get charged when you turn it in.
Personally I couldn’t care less about little dents, dings, scratches, and other cosmetic issues. The dealer does care. A lot.
In my opinion I turned the car in with only normal wear and tear (which shouldn’t cost anything), but I won’t know if Toyota agrees for a few weeks after they do the inspection. And if they say I owe them $1,000 for repairs I don’t know how I can fight it. What about $2,000? $4,000?
Maybe I’m just not very trusting, but I HATE the idea of some huge corporation telling me how much I have to pay them to fix up their car.
Oh, and remember how the dealership tried to screw me out of $1,000? I can’t help but wonder if there’s a little note in my file that says, “We tried to get an extra $1k from him and he wouldn’t budge. Get it back when he returns it.”
The next car I buy will be a used car that probably already has some minor body damage. I actually WANT a car that I can ding up a bit and not feel bad.
No One Wants to Pay Taxes, Title, and Licensing Every 3 Years
The other reason I really don’t like leasing a car is because the government doesn’t differentiate between leasing and buying. When you lease a new car, you have huge upfront costs of taxes, title, and licensing.
Paying that every three years would be worse than eating Kevin McKee home cooked meals every three years.
The government gets enough of my money from income and property taxes. I don’t need to give them even more by buying a car every three years.
Again, the next time I buy a car it’s going to be a used car that I will keep for as long as it stays alive.
No More Leases for Me
As I’m sure you can tell I will not be leasing a new car. I will be sharing Tag’s car for the immediate future. That means we have no car payment, our insurance has been cut in half, and we’ll be using less gas.
I’m hoping we can make it until we start having children before we need to buy a second car, but who knows if we’ll even last a month? We certainly CAN live with one car, but it would be CONVENIENT to have two. Only time will tell whether saving money or convenience will win.
When Toyota lets me know how much (if any) they are going to charge me for the “wear and tear” on my car I will post another update. In the meantime:
Readers: Have you ever leased a car? If so, would you do it again?