Leasing vs. Buying a Car: Part I

January 9, 2013

By NRMA, New Cars via Flickr

What’s the real deal when it comes to leasing or buying a car? Here’s my story.

Dec. 15, 2006 - It’s the weekend and another snowstorm. So the story went for what seemed like every weekend at the end of 2006.

After a 20-inch dumping one particular December afternoon, I got stuck driving home from work on a major thoroughfare – that’s right, six lanes at a busy intersection with rush-hour traffic. Cars were stuck in snow ruts all over the place and the snow was piling up. The light turned green, and then I was stuck too.

After that dreadful commute, I began thinking about how to prevent that from ever happening again. Wouldn’t I be able to avoid that helpless stuck-in-the-snow feeling if I had an SUV? Wasn’t that guy behind me that afternoon driving a four-wheel drive something or another? Luckily he was able to push me out of the snow rut, which was great – until I got stuck again in my driveway several blocks later.

Well, I’ve never owned an SUV. So it wasn’t an option for me to consider giving up my everyday commuting car and going all in on a shiny new four-wheel drive vehicle. At that point it seemed like leasing was a good way to do an extended test drive. Or maybe leasing was like a five-year engagement – if I didn’t like it, after 60 months I could walk away – no harm, no foul.

I knew what I wanted and leased it in December 2007. While I won’t name the SUV I leased here since they won’t be paying me for my endorsement, it has performed for me during Colorado’s winter months. I love being able to get up a steep hill on a snowy morning when no one else can.

So here’s my dilemma – should I turn in my leased SUV (with low miles since I only drive it when it’s snowing or raining or I need to take my extra-large, hairy dog somewhere), should I buy it, should I lease a newer model, or should I buy a new one?

I’m already receiving the “your lease is almost up – contact us for exciting options!” mailings. So, over the next several months, I’ll be reporting here about my experience – and hope to get some good advice from readers, too.

Next entry – investigating my options…