What’s the difference between Leasing and Financing a car?

The biggest differences between leasing and financing a car have to do with what exactly you pay for, and what responsibilities or obligations you bear. There are some major differences between the two, which will be listed below.

Ownership

  • Lease: You don’t own the car; you pay to use it for a fixed period of time. At the end of the term, you either return it or buy it.
  • Finance: You own the vehicle and get to keep it, use it how you want, for as long as you want, and add any customizations or modifications that you want.

Down Payments

  • Lease: Usually includes the first month’s payment, a refundable security deposit, down payment, taxes, registration fees, and possibly other fees.
  • Finance: Usually include the cash price or a down payment, taxes, registration fees, possibly some other fees.

Monthly Payments

  • Lease: The vast majority of the time, lease payments will be lower than loan (financing) payments because you only pay for the depreciation of the vehicle during the time of the lease, plus interest, rent charges, taxes, and fees.
  • Finance: Loan payments are usually higher than leasing, because you’re paying for the entire value of the car.

Early Termination

  • Lease: If you want to end the lease early you will have to pay early termination fees, which usually can cost as much as sticking with the rest of the lease’s term.
  • Finance: You can sell or trade in the vehicle whenever you want, and the money you make selling it can be used towards paying off the loan.

Vehicle Return

  • Lease: At the end of the lease’s term, you can choose to return the vehicle and walk away after paying any end-of-lease charges.
  • Finance: You have the responsibility to sell or trade in the vehicle whenever you want, should you decide you want to buy another one.

Depreciation

  • Lease: Future value of the car does not affect you as the leaser, but you also do not get any equity from the car.
  • Finance: The vehicle will depreciate in value, but the equity is yours to use as you want.

Distance Restrictions

  • Lease: Most leases will require you to negotiate an annual limit on how much you can drive the car, and you will incur extra charges if you go over that limit.
  • Finance: You can drive as often and as far as you want, with the awareness that more kilometers lowers its resale value.

Wear & Tear

  • Lease: If your car undergoes excessive wear and tear, most leases will require you to pay for it.
  • Finance: The only worry for someone with a car loan/financing is how it will affect the resale value.

Customizing

  • Lease: Most of the time, the person/business leasing you the car will want the car to be in optimal conditions to re-sell, in case you choose not to buy it yourself once the lease is up. As a result, you will have to remove any and all modifications or customizations by the end of the lease, and pay for any damages or permanent alterations that were caused.
  • Finance: You own the car, so you can do whatever you want to it with the awareness that it will affect the resale value.

In the end, whether or not you want to lease or finance your car depends on your long-term intentions. If you’re the type of person that likes to have new cars every few years, then leasing makes much more sense financially. However, if you intend to buy a car and use it until it dies, then taking out a loan is your better option. In between, it all depends on the level of financial commitment and ownership you prefer to have of your car.

You can read more about our finance department here, or contact our dealership if you want to learn more about whether financing or leasing makes more sense for your situation.