Consumer Confidential: Lease or Buy?

For one thing, check it out if you like the idea of driving a just-about-brand-new car around virtually all the time.

The commercials are everywhere â?? automakers are rolling out new models and dealers are trying to get you in the door.

You may be tempted to update your ride, but is leasing right for you?

Auto experts say a brand new car can depreciate in value by up to 20 percent as soon as it's driven off the lot. For you, leasing could be one way to combat that loss.

Lease payments are generally lower than loan payments. Monthly lease payments can range from $160 to well over $1,000, depending on a vehicleâ??s make and model.

A typical lease lasts for 36 months, though some dealerships offer them for one to five years.

Whether you lease or buy, itâ??s important to do your research. Never walk into a dealership uneducated. You need to know what you want and what you can afford.

What are some of the reasons not to lease a car? David Saied from Amarilloâ??s Street Toyota says, â??if you do heavy use applications such as ranching, oil fields, you know, take it to the river every weekend or drive very high miles, it may not make sense to lease that car.â??

Saied says it also depends on how long you intend to keep a vehicle. â??If itâ??s a vehicle you plan on changing out in a couple, 3 years, or even if itâ??s something you want to go ahead and buy for 5-6 years, sometimes leasing is the best opportunity,â?? he says. â??There are cases that if youâ??re gonna keep the car forever, it may be better to purchase that vehicle. We can tailor a plan to fit your needs.â??

The experts also suggest that you read and fully understand the lease agreement before signing.

Also, ask the dealership about gap insurance coverage. If you have it and the leased car is wrecked, the insurance will cover the difference between the car's actual market value and the remaining balance to pay the lease off.