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Is leasing the best deal for your next car?

August 2, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
The debate over whether to buy or lease a car has been going on for years. But with the economy still in the recovery mode, is now a good time to lease?Car dealers are doing whatever they can to drive you into their showrooms. But it's not all about getting you to buy. Leasing is back in a big way. But are the deals as good as they seem?

When it comes to cars, Michelle Stulack loves to lease.

"It's a newer model car with the manufacturer's warranty on it and it's at a reasonable rate," said Stulack.

Leasing deals were tough to come by when the economy hit the skids. But Jessica Caldwell, an analyst at Edmunds.com, says times are changing.

"We're seeing more mainstream automakers, the domestics who really took an aggressive stance to get away from auto leasing in the fall of 2008 come back," said Caldwell. "General Motors, Ford, Chrysler, all re-evaluating opportunities in the leasing market."

Ads offer payments for $200 to $300 per month and some sweet incentives like no down payments. Experts say there are good deals to be had -- but one thing to know:

"The lease advertisements you see in ads or on TV, a lot of times they pertain to one particular vehicle and the car you want may be something different," said Caldwell. "But always use it as a good basis of negotiation because they know that that is something of what your price point is and they're going to work with you to try to get you to that point."

The price may not be all-inclusive, so ask about taxes and fees. You'll need good credit.

"Getting quotes from different dealers is still something you want to do," said Caldwell.

"We have shopped around for the best rates," said Michelle Stulack.

Not sure leasing is right for you? Consider how many miles you'll drive. Remember, you'll pay extra if you go over your mileage restrictions. And drivers need to compare the overall package. Sometimes buying offers better benefits.

"Is it better to look at low-financing options? And find out what type of payment option is best for their particular situation," said Caldwell.

Stulack sees great leasing deals right now and doesn't want to miss out.

"I may consider turning my current lease in earlier and looking for a new one," said Stulack.

If you decide to lease, also be careful of unusual wear and tear on the car, such as rips in the upholstery, or you may face extra fees for that.


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