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Lease a New Car or Buy My Car

Hi! I’m new here but have been listing the Car Talk for years.

I have a 2010 Prius purchased in January 2011. It has about only 15,500 (only about 3.5K the first year, then about 6K/yr).Work is only 8 to 10 miles from home, and I generally don’t take long trips. There are a few scratches on it, but no major exterior damage.

My lease is coming to an end in January. I’d like advice whether to buy this car or trade it in for a new Prius.


Are you looking this from a financial point of view??

Financially speaking…it’s ALWAYS better to buy then to lease.

But I don’t think you’re worried too much about expenses.

Buy this car, keep it for a number of years, start putting money away for your next car, and buy (not lease) that one when the time comes.

What they said.

Of course, this depends some on the buyout price. What is it? How does it compare to your alternatives?

You’re not really an ideal hybrid driver, with that few of miles. If the buyout price is high, if might make more sense to buy a new compact non-hybrid, if the cost is similar. That way you’ll have a 3-year newer car for the same money, then keep that one for 10+ years.


That’s a tough question, and you’ll have to do the math to see if it makes sense to buy this car

From an emotional standpoint, it might not be a bad idea to buy the car. You’ve already gotten accustomed to it, and, assuming it’s still in excellent condition (aside from the scratches), it should serve you well for many years to come.

And if you do buy it, maybe you could have it professionally detailed for a few bucks, and then you’ll have a relatively new car, mileage wise, that is.

Just to be blunt, you do not need a hybrid. You just plain don’t drive enough for the extra expense. My concern would be having a Prius without a warranty, so I wouldn’t buy it without having the batteries and other high cost items covered. Best would be to just start over and buy a new non-hybrid or hybrid if you really want one, instead of leasing.

It also depends on where you live. If you happen to live in the U.S. near the Canadian or Mexican borders, you may have legal issues trying to get the car out of the country. Many leases have clauses that prevent lessees from taking the cars out of the United States, a provision most dealerships never even tell potential lessees about. In most cases, if the ownership in the car is still in the name of the leasing company and not the individual, you would need a letter from the leasing company giving you permission to take the car into the other country. Pain in the butt, if this is something you do regularly.

I agree with Bing that hybrids don’t really make as much environmental sense as some people think (the environmental impact of the battery manufacture is pretty steep), but it can make economic sense in states like California that give significant tax breaks for owning hybrid vehicles.

My husband sold cars for awhile years ago when he was in grad school, and based on his experiences at that dealership, I’d never, ever lease a car. I much prefer to buy used and let someone else eat the depreciation.

If it is important to you, for whatever reason, to drive a new car, then you might want to turn your present car in and lease a new car. However, if having a new car is not that important, you would probably be money ahead to buy the Prius you are now driving. The Prius has a good track record for being a reliable automobile, so you should get many more years of good service from it.
I don’t like to lease or rent anything. I would rather own a house or a car and have that pride of ownership. That said, right now I wish I had leased my dog–he doesn’t want to leave me alone today and if he were leased, I would turn him back in (just kidding).

What is important to you? Do u want a warranty? Do u want a new car? Is it a financial question? Buying new and keeping it for 10 yrs is cheapest per year. Buying a new car every 3 yrs and trading in old car is more expensive, usually. Leasing a new car at every 3 yrs might cost the same as buying new/trading in.

I agree with others that your driving pattern is not supportive of a hybrid. I would finish the lease and buy a similar size new non-hybrid vehicle with the smallest engine. With the amount you drive, that would last you close to 30 years!

What’s the buyout price? What’s the market value of your 2010 Prius? What warranty would you get on your very expensive battery pack?

I agree with the others that you spend a lot of money on a vehicle that you don’t drive very much. Hybrids only make sense for people that drive a lot of miles.

A lot of good remarks to think about. I like the idea of a hybrid, and my gas mileage is fabulous. In over 40 years of driving, this was my first “new” car, and the financial situation at the time was just right to lease. I’d rather keep this car then get a new, non-hybrid car, even with my driving pattern. I just have to decide between a new Prius or this Prius.

In that case, I would definitely keep the one you have assuming the buyout price is reasonable. The battery is guaranteed to 100k/8 years, isn’t it?

Given how little you drive the car, you probably won’t pay a mileage premium if you don’t buy the car. It really comes down to the purchase price vs the lease cost for a new Prius. BtTW, don’t lease the plug-in Prius. It costs way too much for what you get. If you want a plug-in, look at the Nissan Leaf. It would make sense for your driving pattern as long as you don’t take one way trips over 60 miles.

I agree that it may be cheaper to buy the car. But just a thought; I would advise that you ask yourself this question. Do you like the car you have now and can you live with it for the next ten years or so ? Would you rather have a different model in the Prius line or something else ? A Mustang ? ( just kidding) I would not make up my mind till I tried all of the other options out. @Docnick and others make a good point for considering other small motor options, like a Miata. I drove a Prius. I would rather “drive” something else.

I am thinking of leasing, the major factor is miles per year allowed under the lease, and if you can reasonably expect it will not be exceeded. I am getting leery of big buck repairs, because of specialized tools, component parts, ie just paid $300 or so for a wheel bearing, as it is now a hub assembly, and equipment needed.

As a mechanic, I would rather replace a hub assembly, versus installing a bearing using a press, or those specialized tools you mentioned.

Although a hub is more expensive, laborwise it’s a lot easier.

The OP is giving virtually no financial information, and this is strictly a financial question. What is the price to buy the old Prius at the end of the lease? What is the warranty remaining on the old Prius? What is the condition of the old Prius, wear on the tires, brakes, etc.? In general a Prius with 15K miles has lots of good miles left in it with minimal maintenance for at least another 40-50K miles. A new set of tires at about 30K in about all that should be needed.

The monthly costs to start a new lease needs to be compared to the monthly payment on a car loan to buy the old Prius. Likely the monthly costs of the lease will be less, perhaps about 1/2, than a loan payment. But in 3 years with a lease the OP has no equity and owns nothing. After 3 years of loan payments the OP will either own the old Prius, or be close to paying it off. At that point no more car loan or lease payments for a few years could be a nice economic place to be.

The OP needs to run some numbers with an accountant, or a financial adviser.

The new Prius is pretty much the same as your 2010 (unless you feel the need to get the V for more cargo room) My mom has a 2010 Prius II and now only drives about 8k a year (retired teacher) and she loves getting 50-60mpg with a car that’s more comfortable than her previous compact. You could upgrade to a nicer trim level with a new one.

I guess you have to ask yourself how many thousands extra you want to pay to save a little over a nickel a mile in gas savings. For normal use thats a savings of about $1000 a year and less for cars that are in the garage most of the time. Given of course that there are no addition maintenance and repair expenses to whittle the difference down more. Even my diesel only cost me $800 more to buy it but killed me on the higher maintenance and repairs. So I just stay in the mainstream now, not forging any new ground.