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Ask Dave

Explain How A Car Lease Works

Hear Dave break down, in detail, what a car lease is and why you don't want it.

QUESTION: Listener asks Dave to break down the mathematical flaws in a car lease.

ANSWER: A car fleece is basically renting a car. You pay $400 a month and at the end of the new car lease, you turn it back in. If you want to buy it, you are buying it for what they estimate at the beginning of the fleece to be the market value. At the end of the lease, it’s called the residual value. If you pay $400 a month for 60 months, you pay $24,000 before turning it in. The car will not have gone down in value more than that, because the car companies would lose money if it did. When they get the car back, you will have paid them more than the car has depreciated during that time.

During that time, you’re maintaining the car as if you owned it. You’ll get charged for excessive wear and tear, or if you put too many miles on it. If you rent it for $24,000 and it went down $15,000 in value, then it cost me $9,000 to rent this car for this period of time. That is their profit during that time.

Another thing is that the interest rates on a vehicle lease are not disclosed because the Federal Trade Commission has determined that this is not a debt, so there is no federal disclosure involved. Therefore, you have no truth in lending disclosure sheet. The interest rates you get charged are unbelievably high. That’s where you’ll realize you got screwed over.

People get sold automobile leases because they are told that it’s what sophisticated people do. But as it turns out, the car companies make more money on leasing you the car than if you bought the car with cash, according to the National Auto Dealers Association. Broke people think ‘how much down and how much a month’. Rich people think ‘how much’. If you can’t pay cash for a car, then ride a bicycle. But don’t lease a car.