Car shopping? Buy used or lease new??

Now, normally I wouldn’t bore you with such banal matters, but the overwhelmingly positive response to my advice has encouraged me to extend my wheeling and dealing expertise to Contravex readers pars pro toto. Without further ado, from a personal friendi :

What is your view about buying used vs. leasing new? (if you have time to give me your thoughts.)

My response :

For buying used vs. leasing new, it just depends how much time and energy you’re interested in putting into your cars. If you’re buying used, there’s more research involved, more phone calls to be made, more used car salesmen to deal with, even once you buy it there will likely be more trips to the mechanic, and once it comes time to sell it you’ll find that you can sell it for more privately but that this too is an expenditure of your temporal resources if nothing else.

The advantage of buying used is that you can spend less money (although this isn’t always the case, particularly with lease rates these days) and you can keep the vehicle for as long as you’d like. This works well if you decide you don’t like it after a year or two, whereas a lease locks you in for 36-39 months typically.ii

For leasing, the biggest downside is that you have to buy the latest greatest with all the bells and whistles that manufacturers seem to keen on incorporating into their newest vehicles, often to the detriment of user friendliness.iii The newest Lexusesiv in particular have the most (Hashem-) forsaken hvac/audio computer systems WITH A MOUSE. It’s the worst interface this side of a government website.v Lexus used to have intuitive touchscreens with redundant physical buttons (as on my 2008), but sadly they took a wrong turn somewhere in the early-2010s.

The upsides of leasing are the insanely low, very predictable payments (see attached screenshots from Lexus’ website today)vi and the knowledge that you don’t have to worry so much about surprise maintenance bills nor about selling the vehicle when you’re done. Leasing is easy and economical, which makes it a smart choice for most car buyers, quite possibly yourself included.

If you’re looking to manage your cashflow and budget, leasing is very, very hard to beat and you also get the most au courrant design, which never hurts.vii Buying used probably only makes sense if you’ve more time/money than brains (like me),viii if you derive particular joy from timing the bottoms of depreciation curves (like me) or if you have your heart set on one particular model that’s no longer in production in that exact specification.

That’s it! Nothing earth-shattering, right ? And yet, her response :

OK, this is so so so helpful, Peter! What I mean is, this is just amazingly helpful. I’ve been brooding and searching with your info in mind. I just can’t tell you how grateful I am for your insight and expertise. It’s extremely hard to know what one is doing so having your take on things is amazing. Thank you again a million times!

Sometimes uou never know how helpful you can be until you put pen to paper.

___ ___ ___

  1. She’s one of the most fascinating and intelligent women I have the priviledge of knowing and a well-respected professor at the local law school, the same institution that my father attended and where it just so happens that my younger brother will be finishing his studies in the fall. Alert readers will recall that my younger brother began his JD studies in Ireland in 2015, from which we’ve enjoyed several earlier forays.
  2. This isn’t strictly true, leases can be transferred, but the market for this is relatively paltry compared to the entire used car market, resulting in an asset that’s even more illiquid than an already fairly illiquid one.
  3. Is this the fault of car manufacturers in particular or simply the result of runaway complexity in general ?
  4. Which she was interested in to begin with.
  5. I specifically had the Obamacare boondoggle in mind here.
  6. RX350 lease NX200 lease

  7. For most!
  8. This is obviously tongue-in-cheek! We all get what we deserve. Because seriously, what fucking “deserve.” Holy shit stop the entitled gimme gimme gimme already and either be better or latch on for dear life to someone who is.

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