What you need to know before leasing a car


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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Leasing is often touted as a great option for getting a newer car and making lower payments. But it doesn’t always work that way, especially for lower income customers, or those with less than perfect credit who lease from smaller “buy here, pay here” type dealerships.

WREG’s Zaneta Lowe got a complaint about this recently, and got some advice from a local consumer attorney.

First, no matter how quickly you need a car, don’t fall for any high-pressure sales tactics. When the salesperson tries to rush you, just slow the transaction down. Be sure to review the contract, including looking at the back of any documents.

Read the fine print and pay attention to restrictions often imposed on leases.

“They have restrictions on mileage, they have restrictions in maybe where you can go. They might say you can`t leave the state with this car. It has a lot of details with what kind of wear and tear is allowed and if, in some cases, if they get wind that there is damage or you get in a wreck or something like that, that could be sufficient for them to repossess the car.”

Craig Barnes of Memphis Area Legal Services said certain dealerships will prey on lower income families by convincing them that they can’t go anywhere else because of their credit. But that’s not always true.

“You might want to try and deal with a bigger dealership, go give it a shot, they probably will give you a better deal than you think. Okay, you`re not restricted to going to these little places, you don`t have to accept what they give you.”

The other thing to keep in mind is that leasing at these smaller, “buy here pay here” dealerships that focus on subprime lending is actually more expensive. The interest rates are so high that the benefit of lower payments through leasing is washed out.

Also, keep in mind, when you lease, you don’t own the car.

Barnes said he’s seen several cases where the customer signed the contract not even realizing it was a lease.



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