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How to Avoid Car Leasing Pitfalls and Mistakes

May 22nd, 2019 | Ana Elliot

Well, we are officially five months (nearly six!) into 2019! Have your New Year's Resolutions been going well? Yeah, most people have given up on that summer body and cleaning out their closet but if one of your resolutions was to get a new car, you might not have to give up just yet. If you are interested in a new car and are thinking about leasing, well, you've come to the right place. Whether you are doing well or struggling financially--leasing a car can be a great choice for your transportation needs if you make sure to do it right. As with any major purchase or financial decision, there are a lot of mistakes you can end up making if you aren't careful when leasing a new car. To help make sure you avoid any pitfalls, here are seven of the most common to avoid when leasing a car!

7 Pitfalls To Avoid When Leasing a Car

Not Researching

Researching, overall, is super important. This is true for just about any major purchase or decision you will ever make and doubly true for leasing a new car. If you aren't using all the tools available to you, you are making a big mistake. You need to take advantage of all that the internet has to offer as well as just shop around. Different dealerships will have different deals and offerings. If you want a lease with a higher mileage cap as well as a lower cap cost, you are going to need to check as many options as possible. There are even online options where you can lease cars such as TRUECar. As you take notes from this article and hopefully the others you should be reading to prep, you should also keep your eyes out on deals.

Large Upfront Costs

While you start on your leasing journey, make sure you are keeping in mind the total cost of the lease. You might be drawn in by low monthly payments, but you need to dig deeper than this. Most low monthly payments mean you have to pay a large sum upfront--You are, in fact, paying a portion of the lease up front to enable those low monthly payments. The worst part is, if something happens to your leased car, while the dealership will get money back, you won't get back your initial upfront costs. To avoid this, it is recommended that you don't pay more than $2,000. While your monthly payments might be higher, it'll protect you from having a large sum of your own money in the hands of someone else.

Check the Miles You Drive Prior to Getting the Lease

A lot of low payments depend on low mileage driven in the year. A lot of leases have limits ($10,000-15,000 a year) and if you go over that limit when you turn your car back in, you will get charged (sometimes 10-30c per mile you've gone over!). That can be a huge chunk of change at the end of your lease term. You can avoid this if you sit down and track how much you drive a month/year. If it exceeds the mileage limits, you should maybe make another choice.

Not Negotiating

You might think when you are going to lease a car, that it is similar to renting an apartment: ie: you don't get to negotiate the price. This would be a great mistake on your part. Your lease price is negotiable. The purchase price of your lease is called the capitalized cost and the lower you get this number, the lower your monthly payments will be. You can also negotiate your interest rate as well as the mileage cap. Don't sleep on that negotiation!

Not Getting Gap Insurance on Your Lease

Gap insurance. What is it? Gap insurance is insurance that can be added to lease contracts that will help protect you from losing money if something should happen to your car. As you know, most cars lose a huge portion of their value the minute they drive off the lot. This can cause issues for you if something happens to your car. If you owe more on the car than an insurance company thinks the car is worth, that could mean you still have to pay on a car you are no longer able to drive. Gap insurance would cover that extra amount. If you are going over a lease and it isn't part of the contract, consider looking for plans that have it.

Maintenance, Maintenance, Maintenance

Once you have leased a new car, you need to make sure to maintain it. Any damage or issues to the car outside of normal wear and tear that comes with driving will cost you when you turn the car in. Any scratch smaller than a driver's license is generally considered "normal" wear and tear. You should definitely be taking the car in for its maintenance and services but also make sure you get a list of the guidelines for what your dealer considers "normal wear and tear." You can't just assume they will be lenient! Remember, it is better to do your research! If you need money to pay for a large repair, an installment loan is an option.

Don't Lease for Too Long

While leasing a car is a great option for a lot of people, you don't want to do it for too long. The longer you lease a car, the higher the chance you'll end up paying more on maintenance. Most leases range from 1-4 years, but some can go longer. You definitely want to avoid that. In part, you want to avoid long leases because lender warranties generally last only 3 years or 36k miles. Ideally, your lease should be shorter than the warranty you have. If you want a longer lease then it's probably in your best interest to just... buy a car.

Ready to Lease?

After looking over all these potential pitfalls and doing your research, if you still think a lease is a great option then you should definitely go for it! A lease can be a great way to have a new car every few years without paying too much and without all the "old car maintenance" expenses. If, after all of this information, you think it would be better to buy a car, check out this article about how to haggle car price!