Most people buy their cars, but don’t forget you can also lease a car. A lease offers the flexibility to get a new car sooner and eliminates the need to sell your car when you want a new one — you simply return it when the lease is over.
Here are the ins and outs of car leasing and why you might want to consider it as an option the next time you need a new car.
What is a Car Lease?
Think of a car lease the same way you think of renting an apartment. When you lease an apartment, you get to use the apartment without owning the unit. When you lease a car, you get to drive it, but you don’t ever own the car. At the end of the lease term, the car goes back to the dealer, the same way an apartment is returned to a landlord.
A New Lease on Life
A lease gives you the chance to get into an all-new car more often. Terms are generally between two and four years, and when the term is over, you have the option of leasing another new car. If you like the idea of driving a new car every few years, a lease is a great way to go.
Warranty and Maintenance
Since leases are typically only for a few years, the car is usually covered under a warranty for most, if not all of the term. Routine maintenance like oil changes and even tire rotations are still necessary though, so don’t think you are off the hook.
Also, if there’s any damage to the vehicle during your lease, you will be responsible for those repairs. It’s a good idea to check over this section of your lease carefully to know exactly what maintenance is your responsibility.
It’s also important to remember that you have repair options outside of the dealership — even for leased vehicles. Thanks to the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, you have the right to perform repairs yourself or have them performed at your preferred shop without voiding the warranty, according to MLM Law. Just make sure you keep organized records and receipts of any work done outside the dealership.
Watch Your Mileage
You’ll find a mileage restriction on pretty much every lease. Mileage limitations vary, and if you cross the threshold, then there’s a mileage surcharge that adds up fast. When you lease a car, be sure to consider your daily mileage, as well as any potential road trips, so you won’t exceed the mileage restrictions.
Most mileage restrictions apply to the overall term of the lease, so if you drive a lot in one year, driving less in another year will still keep you under the overall mileage cap. If you find yourself getting a little too close to the limit, then try to cut back on your driving by combining multiple errands in one trip or carpooling.
Buying a New or Used Car
There’s always the tried-and-true method of buying a new or a used car, but there are drawbacks. Buying means that when you’re ready to move on to another car, you have to figure out what to do with the old one. A benefit to buying new is having the latest safety and technology, but if you keep that car for long, then you end up behind the times. A used car sets you back even further.
That said, there are many merits to owning a new or used vehicle. When you own a car, you’re free to modify it to suit your needs — including equipping your beloved old ride with aftermarket systems to enjoy modern comforts like backup cameras and navigation.
Buying a car is a major purchase that deserves careful consideration. Choosing to lease is a great way to get behind the wheel of a new vehicle, especially if you aren’t a high-mileage driver.
Check out all the maintenance parts available on NAPA online or trust one of our 16,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on how to lease a car and your parts and repair options for leased cars, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.
Photos courtesy of Nicole Wakelin.
Nicole Wakelin covers the automotive industry as a freelance journalist for a variety of outlets. Her work includes news pieces, podcasts, radio, written reviews, and video reviews. She can be found in The Boston Globe, CarGurus, BestRide, US News and World Report, and AAA along with lifestyle blogs like Be Car Chic, The Other PTA, and She Buys Cars. She is active on social media with a large following on both Twitter and Instagram and currently serves as Vice President of the New England Motor Press Association.