Leasing a Car and You

You've seen the commercials on television plenty of times: you see a car on the road at night driving in slow motion while some narrator with a deep voice says something nonsensical-yet-somewhat-inspirational. Once it ends you see what you think is a misprint of a price.

"That can't be the price to lease," you think to yourself. "Can it? I can totally afford that!"

While leasing a car usually does result in less of a monthly payment, there's literally a lot of fine print to go through that turns out making the deal too good to be true.

But if you still think leasing is the way you want to go, there are a few things you should consider before even walking into the dealer.

Driving habits

On average, a three-year lease allows you 36,000 miles. For the mathematically challenged, that's 1,000 miles a month or 32.876712 miles per day for three years. So, if you drive to work every day, your total daily commute shouldn't be more than 25 miles. You're going to want to give yourself some leeway for trips to the mall, to the store, outings, etc.

Also, if you're the type of person who had "bad luck" with cars (i.e. your cars randomly get dinged and dented or you get into many fender benders) you're probably a bad driver and should really reconsider getting a car that will charge you for anything more than minor wear and tear damage.

The fine print

If you look at the literal fine print on the ads, usually the ones that sound too good to be good, you'll see the catch: a certain amount of money (usually around $3,000) down, plus tax, tag and title. Does that mean you should look for deals that are $0 down? Actually, no. Even that is a misleading term, because while you may not have to put a down payment, you will have to pay for the tag, title and sometimes a security deposit and something cleverly called "dealer fees."

Dealer fees are a thing from Satan. It's basically just an innocuous charge from the dealer so they can make a few extra hundred bucks. There's no point for them. Sometimes it could be disguised with another name, such a "destination fee."Â  Don't get fooled! The only thing you should be paying for"”if you're going to a $0 down event"”are tag and title. Those are the only fees that are absolutely necessary. You can haggle your way out of any other fee"”including the security deposit.

Don't be picky

When it comes to leases, you usually don't have many options"”each one costs extra. So if you're fine with a no-frills mode of transportation, a lease can be appealing for you. On the plus side, if the car has any problem, the dealer will take care of it. Also, you can have a new car approximately every three years.

Options kept open

Sure, there are a few downsides to leasing, but most of them involve personalizing your vehicle. If you ever want to make any customized changes"”whether it's tinted windows, a new radio, Lamborghini style doors or an F1 engine"”most dealers allow you to buy the car once your lease is done. This is especially helpful if you've gone over your allotted miles as well.

So if you're looking to lease an automobile, make sure you do your homework and don't get suckered by misleading advertising of Satan hidden dealer fees.