Leasing vs. Buying a Car: Part II

January 30, 2013

By NRMA, New Cars via Flickr

Since my first entry (Leasing vs. Buying a Car: Part I), I’ve decided that I will turn in my leased car and, rather than lease a newer model, actually buy the new model SUV. I came to this decision because I can get low financing through my credit union if the manufacturer doesn’t offer me a great deal, and truth be told, I really want a new car.

After receiving a few mailers about the impending end to my lease, I was wondering if there would be any other outreach from those interested in signing me up for a new car lease. After all, I’m in the final 60 or so days. Not to worry! Today the calls began – three all in a row!

The first was from the manufacturer’s financing company that holds my lease, the second from the dealer from whom I leased the car, and the third, fittingly, from the “third-party” end-of-lease vehicle inspection firm.

“Did you know that your car lease expires in mid-December?” Caller 1 asks. “Yes,” I replied. “Were you thinking of leasing another vehicle?” she asks. “Well, no, I was thinking of turning in my leased car and buying a new car,” I bravely revealed.

As I’m on the phone responding to Caller 1, Caller 2 (the dealer) is leaving me a voice message. (No joke.)

So here’s the next hurdle for me – the lease-return inspection. I feel like I’m back in college with an exam to cram for. Will I pass? While I have low miles on the vehicle, it is a 4-wheel drive that has been, shockingly, off-road.

Did I mention that my vehicle is also the dog-transporter? And did I include that I have a very hairy and large dog? Even with the low mileage I have on the car, wouldn’t it “show” better if it were clean? A bad grade here translates to cold, hard cash that I might have to pay.

Task 1: Clean and detail vehicle.

Caller 3, the third-party inspector, could come to my work/home/other and conduct the inspection. I had already scheduled an inspection at the dealership since I was responding in order of my calls to Caller 2.

I couldn’t resist meeting with the person from the dealership after I had quickly reviewed their online inventory. It’s like I’m Pavlov’s dog – show me a new car and I drool. Fortunately, the third-party, end-of-lease inspector would do an additional inspection at no cost. Kind of like getting a second opinion for a medical diagnosis, I thought.

Task 2: Have an end-of-lease inspection done at dealer. Evaluate the result and determine if a second inspection is necessary.

I confess that I have picked out the vehicle I want to buy. Will I be able to use my “customer loyalty” (their term) to negotiate a reasonable price? Will I have any equity from making consistent lease payments as the payment amounts went down (minus, of course, any wear and tear associated with actually driving the car)?

Task 3 for my next entry: Review options based on finances.

Questions needing answers:

  • Do I get any credit for making more than the required lease payment?
  • If so, will the amount of credit cover any inspection-identified flaws in the lease-return?
  •  If not, how much will that increase my cost to purchase or my new monthly payments?
  • Does the dealer have any incentive cash or low/no financing programs for loyal customers like me?
  • Will my payments be about the same (or lower – fingers crossed!) if I buy a new SUV?

And there’s always task 4 -- try to keep from drooling.