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Report: Many Car Buyers Are Better Off Leasing

According to an article over at USA Today, a lot of American car buyers are doing it wrong.

Car buying, that is.


Specifically, the article, reflecting information gleaned from the popular automotive resource site, points out that with the number of individuals financing their new rides for many years, but trading them in after just a couple, are doing themselves a distinct financial disservice.

Perhaps the best reason to finance a car, rather than lease, is so that, at some point, you can drive a car that no longer has a financial obligation attached to it. You’ve heard those people who say, “I’ll drive mine until the wheels come off.” You might even be one of those people. If that is you, then financing is definitely your bag.

The data, however, reveals that a third of those who swing by the dealership intending to exchange their current vehicle for something different are car buyers who are neck-deep in a loan, owing more on the car than it’s worth…to the tune of $5,143, on average.

Part of the problem is that cars are more expensive than ever, with monthly payments averaging $512 and loan terms averaging 69 months…and it turns out that lots of buyers never hang around to the end of the loan term. They trade early, owe more than the value of the vehicle, and then roll the balance into the new loan, digging themselves deeper and deeper.

So, if this is you, and you’re just one of the many Americans who assumes a monthly car payment of some kind is going to be a permanent feature of your existence, then it might be smart to give leasing a serious look.

Not only will your monthly payments usually be less (as an example, the article points out the average monthly purchase payment for a 2017 Honda Civic was $388, while the average lease payment was $266), but when you get to the end of your 36 months and you’re anxious for a different car (because you always are), you won’t have that ugly loan balance with which to contend.

The fact is, very manageable monthly lease payments of $199 are common, and, right now, according to Edmunds, you can lease such well-rated vehicles as a Toyota Camry and Mazda 6 for that figure, with about $2,000 due at signing for each. The total cost, averaged out over 36 months, comes out to just under $255 per month, and you walk away with no balance due.

By Robert G. Yetman, Jr. Editor At Large