The great car debate: To buy or to lease?

Published On: Dec 27 2011 12:01:40 PM HST   Updated On: Jan 20 2014 10:53:54 AM HST
car buying


As the economy continues to rebound, more Americans find themselves strolling the lot of their local car dealership and facing a difficult decision -- whether to buy or lease a new vehicle.

"Both options have their pros and cons," said Joe Wiesenfelder, senior editor at "It really depends on your personal driving habits, the amount of money you're willing to spend and how often you like driving a new car."

Wiesenfelder offers these tips for car shoppers:

Benefits Of Leasing

  • Driving a New Car: Leasing allows you to get a new car frequently. While this may not be the best reason to get a car, it does mean you'll always have the latest safety technology and comforts.
  • Affordability: With leasing, you're getting more car for a lower monthly payment.
  • Less Maintenance: Leasing can help you avoid some hefty maintenance and repair bills. With the exception of a few oil changes and filter replacements, there should be no need for any heavy maintenance. Assuming that you've kept the car in good condition and stayed within the mileage limits, when your lease is up, you can simply turn the car in and walk away.
  • Avoid Upside-down Loans: When you lease, you there is no danger of getting stuck in an "upside-down" loan, where you owe more than the car is worth.

Benefits Of Buying

  • Ownership of the Car: When you buy a car, you own the vehicle and will eventually be free of car payments.
  • Lower Costs in the Long Run: While the monthly payments for buying a car are higher than payments for leasing, you will eventually pay the loan off. Those initial high payments make up for themselves with years of being payment free.
  • No Restrictions: A lease contract contains many restrictions, such as mileage limits, which may be inconvenient and costly in the long run. An owner can sell at any time, while leases usually include hefty penalties for early termination.
  • Rebates and Incentives: Rebates and incentives for new cars are abundant for buyers right now. In some cases, these offers might make buying a significantly less expensive option than leasing.

For many people, the decision to buy or lease comes down to price, Wiesenfelder said.

"We encourage people to use our automatic Loan vs. Lease calculator at," Wiesenfelder said. "By entering in the monthly payment you can afford, you'll get an idea of which car you could afford to own, or if leasing is a better option for you."


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  • IND vs. JAX Matt Hasselback Week 4

    Andy Lyons Getty Images

    Colts beat Jags in OT

    With franchise quarterback Andrew Luck sidelined by a shoulder injury, the Indianapolis Colts turned to their two oldest players to salvage a 16-13 overtime victory Sunday against Jacksonville in Lucas Oil Stadium.

    Kicker Adam Vinatieri's 27-yard field goal with 4:36 remaining in overtime gave the Colts (2-2) a much-needed victory. At 42, Vinatieri is the Colts' oldest player.

    Backup quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, 40, started in place of Luck and completed 30 of 47 passes for 282 yards, a touchdown and no interceptions.

    Hasselbeck's 28-yard pass to tight end Coby Fleener -- just after Jaguars' kicker Jason Myers was wide left on a 48-yard field goal that would have won it with 8:13 left -- moved the Colts into scoring position.

    Running back Frank Gore's 22-yard run set up Vinatieri's final kick.

    Jacksonville (1-3) had an opportunity to win with one second remaining in regulation, but Myers' 53-yard field goal attempt was just wide right, forcing overtime.

    The Colts wasted a golden scoring opportunity with 8:19 left in the fourth quarter when Gore fumbled at the Jaguars' 5-yard line, and defensive tackle Abry Jones recovered in the end zone. The fumble was forced by reserve safety Josh Evans and was the second by Gore coughed up in the opposing end zone this season.

    Indianapolis tied it at 13 with 12:27 to go on Vinatieri's 32-yard field goal after the Colts drove 35 yards in eight plays for the second half's first score.

    Jacksonville took a 13-10 halftime lead when Myers kicked a 32-yard field goal with four seconds remaining in the second quarter, capping a 14-play, 65-yard drive that included a 19-yard pass from Blake Bortles to wide receiver Allen Hurns to the Colts' 16.

    Indianapolis had pulled even at 10 with 6:04 left in the half on Hasselbeck's 2-yard touchdown pass to Fleener. That 13-play, 80-yard drive included five Jaguars' penalties - two pass interference calls, a roughing the passer, a personal foul and an illegal substitution.

    Bortles 8-yard TD pass to Hurns with 11:37 remaining in the half pushed Jacksonville into a 10-3 lead, capping a 49-yard drive after strong safety Johnathan Cyprien recovered a fumble by Indianapolis running back Josh Robinson. The fumble was caused by linebacker Dan Skuta.

    Each team kicked a first-quarter field goal - Vinatieri hitting from 54 yards with 4:59 left in the period and Myers from 20 yards at the 2:49 mark after Bortles completed passes of 26 and 48 yards.

    Jacksonville out gained Indianapolis 210-118 during the opening 30 minutes when Bortles was 14 of 18 for 179 yards and no interceptions. Hasselbeck completed 12 of 21 for 110 yards in the first two quarters.

    The Colts' 12 first half rushing attempts produced eight yards.

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