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To Lease Or Buy A Vehicle: That Is The Question

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Car dealership (Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images)

Car dealership (Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images)

Dorothy Tucker Dorothy Tucker
Dorothy Tucker has served as a reporter for CBS 2 Chicago since 1984....
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CHICAGO (CBS) — The lure of lower monthly payments is putting leasing back on the map. 

After a four-year lull, one in every four consumers in the market for a new car is choosing to lease rather than buy.

But consumers should carefully weigh the pros and cons of both options before making the decision, CBS 2’s Dorothy Tucker reports.     

Angela Hill is in the market for a Chevy Malibu. Once the test ride confirms her choice, there’s only one decision she needs to make: lease or buy?

It’s the million-dollar question.

“Leasing is like renting a car,” according to Joe Weisenfelder, senior editor for cars.com.

Consider a recent offer on a $19,290 Toyota Camry.  If you buy, you could get a 36-month loan with zero-percent financing for $535.87 a month.  

Or, lease. Put no money down and pay $179 a month.

The upside? You’ll save $356 a month. But there’s a downside.  

“Leases always have a mileage limit,” warns Wiesenfelder.

It’s usually 12,000 miles per year. If your commute is longer than 50 miles a day, experts say you could easily go over the limit. That could cost you 20 cents a mile. 

“That’s one of the shortcomings,” Wiesenfelder says.

You could also pay hundreds of dollars in penalties at the end of the lease if the car is damaged or soiled. So, leasing is not ideal for families.

Who should lease? People who like driving a new car every two or three years and who enjoy having the cost of repairs covered.

Althea Saulsbury favors buying over leasing. Despite the higher monthly payments, she likes eventually owning the car.

“No more payments after four years,” she says.

She’s a single mom with a teenage son. Her commute is less than 50 miles a day. If she buys, she’ll pay $600 a month for 48 months. If she leases, she’ll pay $451a month for 36 months.

Now, she’s leaning toward leasing. 

If you are considering leasing, you can also negotiate the terms of the lease. You can add more mileage and include an option to buy when the lease is up, but it’ll cost you more money.

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