To buy or to lease, that is the question. One could say that my first experience leasing a car didn’t turn out too well for me. I went way over my miles, drove my tires until they were balder than bald, and had to purchase a new battery. Aren’t leases supposed to limit your time spent at car dealerships to oil changes and tire rotations?
Sometimes life happens and you’re put into situations that you didn’t see coming back when you decided to lease. That’s exactly what happened to me. I went from working about two miles away from my apartment to a new job that was approximately 130 miles roundtrip. The excess mileage caused me to go about 3,000 miles over my allotted miles while also forcing me to purchase new tires and a new battery. Just on the miles alone, I racked up a bill that would have allowed me to take a few vacations.
One would probably assume that I decided to purchase a car after I turned in my lease, right? After all, why would I want to put myself in the same situation that just cost me a few vacations? The short answer is that you live and you learn. My first time leasing a car was a bad experience, although I learned valuable lessons that helped me when it came time to lease again.
Don’t make the same mistakes I did. If you’re considering leasing a car, take a look at the pointers I have before you make any decisions.
Overestimate Miles Needed
While all leases are different, most charge the lessee $0.25 per mile that they drive over the agreed-upon mileage. At this rate, if you drive 1,000 miles over what your lease states, you’ll be forced to pay $250 at the end of the lease, along with any other charges you may incur. Luckily for me, my old lease only charged $0.15 per mile. Unluckily for me, my odometer read a few thousand miles over my allowed mileage.
When leasing a car, it’s important to figure out how much you drive over the course of a year. Most leases average between 12,000-15,000 miles per year. If you break it down by day, you only get approximately 33 miles per day if you go with a 12,000-mile lease. If you go with 15,000 miles, you up your average to 41 miles per day. With so few miles to play with, driving a long distance is a no-no. For instance, if you drive 200 miles in one day, you just put six days worth of miles on your car (with a 12,000-mile lease). Don’t get caught paying big fees at the end of the lease. If you estimate you drive 13,500 miles per year, I recommend upping your yearly total to 15,000. By doing this, you’ll save yourself a lot of money in the end.
Some people (most notably, myself) get the idea in their head that because the car is brand new when first leased, it’s okay to skip an oil change or tire rotation. In my case, both were terrible ideas. In fact, I skipped so many tire rotations that my steering wheel began to shake whenever I drove over 45 mph. After a few months, I decided to go get my tires rotated to stop the steering wheel from shaking. However, a worker at the dealership informed me that my tires were so bald that he couldn’t legally change them. I either had to get new tires or drive off with the real possibility that my tires could blow at any second.
I also skipped out on a few oil changes. During the winter, my car didn’t start on three different occasions. After finally taking my car in to get inspected, I was told that if I would have just taken it in for an oil change, they would have been able to tell me that I needed a new battery. Instead, I stranded myself on three separate occasions. It’s simple. Take the car in for its regularly scheduled maintenance and there’s a good chance you’ll avoid dealing with these problems in the long run.
Fix Problems Before Turning In
If your tires are bad, you’re better off going to buy a set of used tires rather than turning your car back into the dealership and having them charge you for a set of brand new tires. In my old car, part of my visor above the passenger side door fell off. The dealership charged me $92 to have it replaced. In reality, I could have fixed it for about $5 myself.
With all the money I spent on overage fees and damages during my first lease, some people may think I’m crazy for leasing another car. However, this time around, I paid for more miles up front, take my car in for checkups on a regular basis and will fix any damages before I turn the car in. I learned my lesson the first time around.
Does anyone out there have any other tips on how to save money when it comes to leasing? Let us know in the comments below!