Should I buy or lease my last car?


Cavell makes good point and in some states tax considerations are tricky. In Massachusetts you do get a tax refund on a car if you “sell it” after any period of time. The only catch is that it has to be a trade-in to any licensed automotive dealer. You do lose the tax if one sells private party. But who buys/sells a new car private party after a single year? The tax is only on the value of the new vehicle, less the trade-in’s value. One can also finance the tax on a car, and with “0% APR” deals, why not? We are pretty far of the topic of a senior buying what she feels may be her last car. Let’s get back to helping Marilyn :slight_smile:


When my grandma died, the average woman lived to 78 years. She was 93, and had survived cancer 3 times, been in hospice twice and discharged because she got better, never exercised and only ate things like bacon, bread, cheese, and pastries.

In other words, “average” is meaningless when it comes to individual data points. You have no idea when you’re going to die, and you also have no idea when something might happen that will render you unable to drive before your death, but neither of those things are likely to happen within the next 3 years. So it’s smarter to buy - else 3 years from now you’ll find yourself having to get yet another car.


@Marilyn33 - because you’re still alive at 71, you have (on average) about 17 more years to go. So buying would seem to be the right choice, assuming you need a car.


I only lease. I just leased a 2019 Acura MDX, to replace a 2016 MDX. I am 73. The 2016 had 5 payments remaining. The dealer ate 2 and Acura, as they advertise ate 3. There was $3450 in lease cash plus $1500 rebate (lease only) The money factor is subsidized at 2.4%. I live in Florida and only pay tax on the payment. I have access to all this information. Most people don’t. Leasing is complicated. I got a new car which cost more money for less per month and zero out of pocket.

Should you lease?. No. You like to keep your car for a while, and maintain it. You should buy a new or very late model car, to get all the current safety equipment. I really think blind spot detection is an asset. Most now have it. Spend as much time shopping as you need to be comfortable. If you like Toyota, start there.Consider renting a car for a couple of days to make certain you are comfortable. A 15 minute test drive won’t cut it.


Like so many of us here, I’m a senior citizen too. At 73 I really don’t think in terms of “my last” anything, and I plan to be around for a while. Like you I don’t change cars often anymore, so when I do I want something that will suit me and serve me. In my view you are a perfect candidate for a left-over 2018 RAV4, if you can find one, and if you prefer a sedan, then a Corolla. The new Corolla is about the same size as your old Camry, and that’s certainly big enough.

Leasing gets a new car at a lower monthly payment, but at the end of 3 years, you own nothing. Meanwhile, you have to maintain the car the whole time, you have to insure it, you buy new tires, etc. That means you will end up paying monthly payments on a car for the rest of your life, in a string of leases. Not my idea of a good time.

Buy a car and enjoy it. And be done with these questions. If you are worried that your family will have to get rid of the car if you drop dead, sign the title now and keep it in a safe place, and tell your trusted survivor where that title is.


If you’re on a fixed income then you’ll be wasting a lot of money that could be used for something else.


I am not sure if everyone in the CarTalk community gets this email, but if they do, know that I am overwhelmed and grateful for your suggestions and feedback. Where have you been all my life ~

Thank you so much. Perhaps just one of you will let me know if the “community” gets this response or must I respond to each one of you and there were many responses.

Hugs and great big smiles



Yes, everyone who visits this forum can read this whole discussion. I’m almost 70 and will probably buy, not lease, because that’s how I’ve always done it and I understand it.

BTW, you might want to read the July 2017 Consumer Reports article, Driving Safer, Driving Longer: At the Wheel Over 65. Quite thorough, with a “Top 25 New Cars for Senior Drivers” list.


Almost everyone (young or old) is on a fixed income. When I was still working, if I needed a new furnace, my employer didn’t give me extra money to pay for it. Same thing now that I live on a pension. For many reasons, I don’t wish to keep a car longer than the warranty, so leasing works well for me.


UM…No. Young enough you can always get a second job or leave your current job for more money.


Tom and Ray once wrote a short book called Should I buy, lease, or steal my next car? The book isn’t easy to find these days, but it does a thorough job of answering your question, and others. To summarize it the advice as it applies to you, leasing is only a moderately good idea “if you really need or want a relatively new car (less than three-years-old),” but even then, leasing is more expensive than buying a new car every three years.

Here’s the reason: Although lease payments tend to be lower than car payments, the lease payments on your next car will be higher, while your car payments stay the same until the car is paid for if you buy it. At the end of a three year lease, you don’t have anything to show for your payments, but if you buy a new car every three years, you have something of value to trade in for your next car.

By no means am I suggesting you buy a new car every three years. I’m just citing it as an example for comparison. If you lease a car for three years, buy it at the end of the lease, and then drive it for another six years, you spend more than if you had bought it new and kept it for nine years.

Keeping in mind these figures were published in the 1990s, here are Tom and Ray’s recommendations:

• If you really need or want a relatively new car (less than three-years-old): Buy it, don’t lease it ($10,466/yr).
• If you’re willing to drive a car that’s six-years-old: Buy a new car; keep it for six years ($8,209/yr).
• If you’re willing to drive a car until it’s nine-years-old: Buy a three-year-old car and keep it for six years ($7,177/yr) or buy a new car and keep it for nine years ($7,483/yr).
• And, if you’re a cheapskate, or you don’t use a car much: Buy a heap,fix it up, and drive it into the ground ($5,312 or less/yr).


All those reasons are being canceled by the money your are wasting .


Exactly. Buy more reliable vehicles. Our last 5 vehicles we never spent more then $2000 in total REPAIRS each for the 8+ years and 300k+ miles we owned them for, Wife’s 96 Accord was the most reliable with it’s first repair at 220k miles was for a $4 heater knob.


Ah wise one, thanks for the pep talk and your car wisdom!



Marylin, it’s time for a fast edit of Your last post. Name, phone and a lot of other things is public to the whole world. Please move fast.

Cdaquila, can You step in?


You have just put way too much info on an open web site . Just in case you do not know how to edit I will Bat Signal Carolyn.

@cdaquila — And it is edit time again copy to @GorehamJ


My older sister no longer drives, but her 2000 Toyota Camry is still in the family and driven by her daughter. Cars are always handed down in families and it is a painless way to pass them on.

The Camry in question is still totally reliable an d rust-free. It was paid for many years ago.


It’s not always painless. When my grandmother bought a new car, she sold me her old car for the trade-in value she was offered. I was in my 20s at the time, and two painful issues surfaced.

One was that the family gossiped about the payment plan. I sent her $100/month until I paid off the agreed amount, but she had a failing memory at the time, and family members have accused me of not paying for the car. Also, my grandmother was not pleased that I didn’t maintain the car’s appearance as well as she did.

The second issue was similar. My mother sold her car to my sister. It turns out all my sister really bought were troubles, because the car was old enough at that time that things started going wrong with it pretty consistently. Also, my mother was not pleased that my sister didn’t maintain the car’s appearance as well as my mother had.

Whether you sell the car to a young family member or give it to them, it’s often not painless.


Thanks GorehamJ:
That’s a good list and I agree with it.
It does appear that in every one of those bullets, there is some priority that the owner doesn’t mind paying extra for. And the way you describe those in your list, they make sense.

The problem occurs when someone’s priority is to save money. They see leasing provides lower monthly payments and lower maintenance, and are then sold on it being the answer.

I often hear people tell me they are switching to leasing a vehicle so they can save money. And the dealer’s sales people are only too happy to nourish that thinking.



Just out of college and finally Army training, I bought my folks two year old car when they were trading. No problem. I paid what they were going to get for trade in and financed it through the bank. The bank paid them and I paid the bank. The bank had no memory problems and always knew if I paid them or not. Clean deal all around.