How to lease a car in Toronto
Leasing a car in Toronto is perhaps the best option for those who can't stand the idea of sticking with the same car for more than four years. You can generally forget about the cost of general maintenance repairs, as most warranties provide coverage for the duration of the lease, though you'll never really own the car outright (unless, of course, you choose to buy the car after the term ends). Leasing can also come with certain restrictions, such as the number of kilometres you can drive each year, though the zero down payment does allow for a certain, lots-of-new-tech-toys-type of freedom in its own right. Here are the steps to finding a lease that works for you:
Decide on the length of your lease
Generally speaking, the longer the lease, the lower the monthly payments. The trouble with signing on for a longer lease, however, is should you would want to terminate early, you may be faced with costly penalties. Most leases in Toronto are generally between two to four years.
Estimate your costs
There's the pen and paper method for those who remember their sixth grade math, though an expedited option is to use an online lease calculator. There are plenty of resources to tap on the web, including this tool by Drive.ca, and many car manufacturer as well offer their own calculators right on their websites. Once you have a better idea of cost, you can decide on the precise type of car you want to lease.
Just like when buying a new car, you might get a different offer from one dealership to the next. (Or else, you might decide to bypass the dealerships altogether and head straight to a broker or smaller leasing operation.) It's best to visit various dealerships to get a feel for your options before making a commitment or composing a short list. Get your paperwork in order (gap insurance, license, etc.) before heading to the dealership for a test drive.
Test drive and negotiate
Try not to swoon at the smell of your new car. Work to get the best rate possible before signing the lease contract, after which you'll be locked in. Keep in mind potential additional (hidden) costs such as acquisition fees.
Keep it beautiful
Eventually, you will have to return the car to the dealer (again, unless you decide to buy) so try to keep the car in the best shape possible. That means taking it in for regular maintenance and adequately prepping for winter. Still, if you do want to give up your lease early, there are a variety of companies that work in the GTA (Lease Busters, Lease Experts, Easy Release, etc.) to free you from your lease before the end of your term, usually by finding a new lessee. Of course, there's always the option of you yourself becoming that lessee, which is an especially attractive opportunity for those looking for the shortest lease term possible.
A big thanks to the 2012 Chevrolet Sonic for sponsoring the blood, sweat, tears and elbow grease that went into writing this post.
Photo by Benson Kua in the blogTO Flickr pool
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