red vintage car

Can You (And Should You) Lease a Used Car?

Can you lease a used car?

Many people don’t realize it, but absolutely you can! It’s a bit unconventional but a used car lease can actually save you quite a bit of money, as compared to leasing a new version of the same vehicle.

Not every dealership offers leases on used cars, and few will advertise it, but many will provide for this if you ask. Read on to learn how used car leasing works, how you can get great deals with it, and how to know if it’s right for you.

How does it work?

A used car lease generally follows the same basic structure as a lease on a new car.

The lender (usually the automaker’s “captive” financing company) will estimate the car’s residual value: how much it will probably be worth at the end of the lease period and the difference (depreciation) from what it’s worth now, which will determine your monthly payments.

The lender will also assign a money factor (interest rate).

Most used cars available for lease are less than four years old and will have fewer than 48,000 miles on the odometer. So you’re not signing up for an old rustbucket, just a vehicle with some experience on the road.

Is it worth it to lease a used car?

woman receiving car key from a man

Like anything else, leasing a used car has its costs and benefits. Overall, I would say that it’s cheaper but with more financial risk and effort involved finding a CPO to lease.

Pro’s:

  • Lower monthly payments. Monthly payments on a lease are based on the car’s depreciation, or the value that it loses over time. Used cars have already gone through their steepest period of depreciation. Therefore your payments will be much less: likely $40-125 per month less than if you pay for the privilege of breaking in a new car.
  • Lower insurance rates. As a consequence of lower monthly payments, insurance rates on a used car are typically lower than for a new one.
  • Buyout for less. At the end of your lease, the car will already have been through two lease periods. Its residual value will be quite reduced at that point, making it a good candidate for a cheap buyout.
  • More ecological. New cars typically get better mileage than old vehicles, leading many people believe they’re making a green choice by driving a new car. However, the environmental impact of junking an old car and manufacturing a new one offsets the difference by far. With this in mind, it’s much more responsible to keep an old vehicle running as long as possible.
  • Cars last a long time. Many people, as soon as they hear the words “used car,” have visions of a rickety old thing breaking down after an hour on the highway. Don’t fall for it! That new car smell might be gone but a car with a few years on it is still likely to keep running well for years to come – especially these days, with improvements in manufacturing and technology.

Con’s:

  • Repair costs. The classical risk of a used car is that it will start having costly mechanical problems, for which it might no longer be on warranty. In fact, Consumer Reports has found that a three-year-old car has on average twice as many problems as a one-year-old car.
  • No prepaid maintenance. Some luxury car companies offer free maintenance service on new vehicles. However, with a used vehicle you’re on your own.
  • Higher money factor. In general, the interest rate is higher on used car loans, though usually the lower sale price and depreciation results in a lower overall payment.
  • Harder to find. Finding a new car to lease is simple. Used car leasing is still pretty unusual, so it can take some searching to find a car and dealership to go through. (I’ll explain how to do it in the next section.)
  • Not a new car. One of the reasons many people choose leasing is the chance to enjoy a brand-new vehicle every couple years. With used car leasing, obviously you’re taking a pass on that.

How to find a used car lease

woman on phone with laptop

So how do you get yourself a lease on a used car? It’s a little more complicated than a new car, where you can just show up at the dealership, but follow these steps to get started.

  1. Find a brand that offers leases on used cars. These include Acura, Audi, BMW, Chrysler and associates, Ferrari, Honda, Hyundai, Infiniti, Kia, Lexus, Lincoln, Mazda, Mercedes-Benze, Mini, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Porsche, Toyota, Volkswagen and Volvo. As you can see, there are plenty of luxury brands to choose from. Going for a used car doesn’t mean compromising on quality!
  2. Get quotes and start comparing. When you decide on the car you want, get lease quotes for the new model of the same vehicle, so you have a benchmark to see if the savings are worth it.
  3. Find your car. Search for certified pre-owned vehicles in the model you’re most interested in. You may have to be flexible on colors and features. Look around to a few different sources so you have options.
  4. Find a dealership. You might have to call around to a few dealerships before you find one that offers leases on used cars. When you call, ask to speak to a sales manager. Tell them you have found a pre-owned car in inventory and would like to lease it. Don’t be surprised if they have to check and get back to you, or you have to speak to someone higher up at the company, since it’s not the norm.
  5. Get a price quote. Just like if you were buying, or leasing a new car, don’t be shy about negotiating on the price. Use an appraisal calculator for CPO’s to find the car’s residual value and determine a fair down payment, monthly payments, taxes and fees, and buyout cost.

Get the car checked out before you drive off

mechanic working on lifted car

Getting a used car calls for a little more caution and research than a new one.

Start off on the right foot by looking for a brand that is known for reliability, like Lexus, Toyota or Audi. Check reviews on the make and model you’re interested in to see how it holds up for other drivers.

Also look into the warranty. Is it comprehensive? How much of your lease period will it cover?

When you find a vehicle, check its own history at Experian AutoCheck or a similar service. That will show you whether it has ever been involved in a major accident, wrecked or had its odometer rolled back. (Of course, not being in an accident is no guarantee it won’t have problems, but at least you don’t have that red flag.)

Before you commit to the lease, have the car inspected by a qualified independent mechanic. Ask to put the car on a lift for a full diagnostic.

Conclusion

Leasing a used car is an option that not many people know about. However, with used vehicles flooding the market, it’s likely to become more common in the coming years.

It’s great way to trim down your monthly payments and set yourself up for a cheap buyout, if you’re willing to accept the risks of driving an older vehicle.

In some cases, it’s a great deal. For others, it’s just not worth the risk and trouble, when you can find good deals on new cars. If you want to learn more about leasing or you’re ready to get behind the wheel of a great new car, feel free to contact Capital Motor Cars. Our expert team is happy to answer any questions and find for you the best deal on a car you’ll love to drive.

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