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Should I Buy or Lease a Car? The Pros and Cons

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The decision to buy or lease a car remains a pivotal choice for many. Each option comes with its unique set of advantages and disadvantages, influencing not only your immediate financial commitments, but also your long-term flexibility. In this blog, we examine the intricacies of buying versus leasing, exploring the pros and cons that can significantly impact your decision-making process. Whether you’re a first-time car buyer or contemplating a switch in your approach to vehicle ownership, understanding your options is crucial.



One of the most significant benefits of financing a car instead of leasing is the eventual ownership. Once you’ve completed all of the payments, the vehicle is yours outright. This commitment can be appealing for those who plan on keeping their car for an extended period. This is also an investment in equity – with each payment you’re building equity in the vehicle, providing a tangible asset that can contribute to your financial stability.  

Another perk to buying your car is the flexibility to customize to your heart’s content. From paint colors to aftermarket modifications, ownership allows for personalization without the constraints typically imposed by leasing agreements.  

Let’s not forget about unlimited mileage. If you’re someone who drives far distances or is constantly on the go, you know that miles can add up quickly. By financing your car there are zero mileage restrictions in your contract.  



There are some downsides to financing. One of the primary drawbacks is the higher monthly payment compared to leasing. A high car payment can strain your budget, making it challenging for those with limited financial resources.  

Cars also depreciate in value, especially new ones. As owner, this loss in value affects you the most. Even if you plan to sell your car shortly after paying it off, you may not recoup the full amount of your investment. Purchasing a gently used pre-owned vehicle can alleviate some of this burden, as the depreciation has typically already been applied, and the value vs. cost of the vehicle is more equal.  

Additionally, as the vehicle ages, maintenance costs will kick in and most likely increase. As the owner, you’re solely responsible for all repair expenses once the warranty expires. This can add to your financial stress with sudden, unexpected costs. This is when having an emergency fund comes in handy!  


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One of the primary advantages of leasing a vehicle is the lower monthly payments compared to financing a purchase. Since you’re essentially only financing a portion of the car’s cost for a fixed term, the payments are often much less, making it an appealing option for those looking to manage their monthly budget more effectively.  

Additionally, lease terms typically last for three years, which allows individuals to drive a new vehicle more frequently and stay up to date with the latest technological advancements and safety features. Auto manufacturers update and upgrade models on an annual basis, but it isn’t just the interior or exterior of the vehicle. Technology options are enhanced to offer evolving trends and access within your car or by using an app, if available. Safety features are continually monitored and implemented to keep you and your family safe. By leasing, you have the chance to take advantage of the newest safety features and technology options. 

Another advantage to leasing is the potential for reduced maintenance costs. Lease terms often coincide with the manufacturer’s warranty period, ensuring that most repairs and maintenance are covered during the time you have the vehicle. Rather than bearing the cost of any unforeseen expenses typical of car ownership, you can save money during that time instead.  



The largest downside to leasing is the absence of ownership, unless you take the route of buying your lease out when your contract ends. At the end of the lease term, you must return the vehicle unless you choose to buy it outright. Typically lease turn-ins don’t hold equity, so you may not have the bonus of an applied down payment when looking to upgrade to a new vehicle. For those who view their car as a long-term investment, leasing may not align with their financial goals.  

Another drawback to leasing is the mileage restriction. Exceeding set limits can result in costly overage fees at the end of the lease term. For those who have long commutes or enjoy long road trips, leasing may not be the best option. Additionally, lessees must maintain the vehicle in good condition, as excessive wear and tear can result in additional charges upon returning the car.  


Whether buying or leasing, both options of acquiring a new vehicle are dependent on personal preferences, driving needs, and financial situations. Buying offers long-term ownership, equity, and the freedom to customize. Unfortunately, ownership can also come with higher upfront costs and maintenance expenses. On the other hand, leasing provides lower monthly payments, the chance to drive a new car more frequently, and often coincides with warranty coverage. However, leasing also comes with mileage restrictions, and the potential absence of ownership. Consider your priorities, weigh the pros and cons, and make a choice that aligns with your lifestyle, financial goals, and priorities. But most importantly, be sure to enjoy the ride! 


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About Laura Hamlin

Laura has worked for NEFCU since 2011. She is passionate about the member service experience and enjoys building relationships across departments. She graduated from Rutgers University with a BA in English and currently lives in Richmond with her husband and daughter. She enjoys spending time with her family and is a member of a local dance company.

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