Question: Dear Luise: Should I lease or buy a good used car. Currently, I have a one year lease through the VW employee plan (dad a retired VW employee). I have been doing this for three years. Every year I get a new car in March. Currently, I have a 2009 Jetta. It costs $223 a month and it includes insurance and maintenance. I thought this was a good deal but was told that leasing will cost me more in the long run. K.
Answer: There are a lot of different ways to look at car ownership. The only way to know that you have found a “good used car” that I know of is to look back, years after you bought it, and say, “Whew, it really was a good one.” It helps to ask a mechanic you trust to go over anything you are seriously interested in with a fine toothed comb.
People who are handy and mechanically inclined often do their own maintenance on both new and used cars, although for complicated issues, expensive diagnostic computers are now needed.
People like me who can’t afford payments, get a car paid off as fast as possible and then baby it for years without any more payments. Some extended warranties help but they are costly and eventually run out. One big repair bill can add up to a year’s payments. However, that doesn’t usually happen every year.
I get a good car that’s a couple of years old and save a lot that way and then I drive it for a decade. The kind of miles you put on your car and how hard you are on it are also determining factors and some people can even write their costs off as a business expense.
If you can budget around what you are doing, i.e. annual leasing, it’s one way to drive pretty much trouble-free and that can be worth a lot. Weigh your options and see where you find the best fit. One size doesn’t fit all. Blessings, Luise