Leasing vs Buying: What’s the Difference?
The main difference between leasing and buying is that buying lets you keep the car indefinitely, while leasing allows you to drive the car for a specific number of years. There are advantages and disadvantages to both methods. We cover more of that in the sections below.
Benefits of Leasing
Leasing is for the short term. Most leases last about two to three years. What’s great about this option is that when your lease is up, you can try out an entirely different car.
Unlike buying, you’re not tied to one model for an unspecified amount of time. You know exactly how long you have to enjoy the vehicle and when to start preparing for your next choice.
Another benefit to leasing is that your monthly payments are typically lower than they would be with a loan. Thanks to those lower monthly payments, you’ll be better equipped to branch out to more advanced vehicles that have the upgraded tech, safety, and comfort features you want.
A lease is designed to cover the depreciation of the vehicle. That depreciation isn’t something you have to think about in the same way you would if you bought the car.
That leads to another benefit of leasing—not having to sell it or consider its value. Once your lease is over, you bring it back to the dealership. They can decide its value when it comes to selling or leasing it to another driver.
Yet another leasing bonus is the warranty coverage. Given that leases only span a few years, many of them fall within the vehicle’s original warranty. Therefore, you’ll be able to get regular and complimentary maintenance done in order to keep your vehicle in top shape.
Benefits of Buying
Buying also comes with a number of benefits, not the least of which is the official ownership of the vehicle. You can get to know your vehicle and enjoy all of its features without a lease end date always in the back of your mind.
Buying a car is an important investment. It’s one that allows you to build up equity and potentially sell or trade in the car down the line. If you’ve taken great care of your vehicle, you could get an impressive deal. Unfortunately, you don’t get the freedom to sell it or trade it in with a lease.
Another benefit to buying is that you can drive your vehicle for unlimited miles and customize its appearance however you want. Considering a new paint color? Go for it! Lease contracts, on the other hand, limit how many miles you can drive per year. You’re also not able to make any changes to the appearance of the vehicle.
In the same vein, buying doesn’t require you to keep your vehicle in perfect condition. You might not mind a few exterior paint scratches or a stain on the upholstery. That's fine, if the vehicle is completely yours. With a lease, however, you’d have to keep the vehicle in really good condition, so the dealership will accept it back.
If your leased vehicle sustains damage, you’ll be responsible for it. Of course, if your purchased vehicle is damaged, you’ll want to get it repaired. However, it’s not an immediate requirement the way it would be with a lease.
Another great thing about buying is that the payments do come to an end. While lease payments are lower, they will continuously be a factor throughout your ownership of the car. When you take out a loan to buy a vehicle, however, you will eventually reach that final payment.