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Buying vs. Leasing: Which Is Right For You?

There are essentially two ways to get a new car: buying or leasing. There are multiple advantages to each option, but you may have a preference depending on your financial situation and driving habits. Here are some of the pros and cons to buying and leasing.
 

Buying

Buying typically involves making a large down payment (from 10 to 20% of the sticker price) and financing the rest of the cost. For example, the average new car costs around $33,000. If you bought such a car, you would pay about $5,000 as a down payment and get a loan for the rest. With interest, you may end up paying a little extra. However, after roughly five years, depending on your loan contract, you own the vehicle.
The advantages to buying a car are that you get to keep it when the payments are up. Though value tends to depreciate, if you take care of your car you could save more in the long run by buying rather than leasing.
The disadvantages to buying are that you need more money up front and that you make larger down payments. You could also end up going upside-down on a loan (owing more than a car is worth) if you get in an accident or if the value depreciates rapidly.
 
Leasing

Leasing is like renting a car from the dealership. You pay little to nothing down, take care of the car (tires, oil changes, brakes, etc.), and pay smaller down payments. However, when the lease is up, you give the car back. Leases typically last 2 to 3 years and they may have mileage restrictions as well.
The advantage to leasing is that you pay less monthly. For those on a fixed income, leasing lets you save more. You also don’t have to risk going upside-down on a loan, so you are financially safer when you lease.
The disadvantages to leasing are that you have no equity in the vehicle so you have nothing when the lease is up. Plus, with some mileage restrictions (usually 12,000 to 15,000 miles), your driving may be limited. It’s worth noting that such restrictions are usually determined by the average distance travelled, so it is rare that they are exceeded.
 


Which is right for you? Buying is great for those who have more money up front and those looking for long-term investments. For those who want the smallest monthly payments or those who like having a new car every few years, try leasing.

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