With so many leasing questions, I thought I would make a separate post with the lease info from the Car Buying FAQ's. I have also attached my trusty lease calculator for those who still need it.
Calculating a lease payment is not difficult, once you have all the
information you need. The lease payment is based on the difference between
what you pay for the car and what the car will be worth at the end of the
lease, plus interest.
When it comes to leasing, here is the lingo:
- This is the selling price of the vehicle.
Capitalized Cost Reduction
- This is simply a down payment.
- This is what the car will be worth at the end of the lease
(usually stated as a percentage of the MSRP).
- This is the interest rate. It is always give as a decimal
figure. While it is not necessary to know the actual percentage rate when
calculating the lease, you can figure it out by multiplying the money factor *
2400. This number is used no matter what the term of the lease. For example, a
money factor of .0025 would be an interest rate of 6%.
Inception Money (or Get In Money)
- This is the amount of money that you have
to come up with at the start of the lease (not including any Capitalized Cost
Reduction). The inception money usually consists of the first month's payment,
a security deposit (usually equal to one month's payment rounded to the
nearest $25 and a bank fee. It can also include the dealer documentation fee,
tags and sales tax on the any Capitalized Cost Reduction (more on that later.)
It is important to have all of these costs broken down so you know exactly
what is being covered.
Now, here is how we calculate a lease. First off, you need to have several
things: the MSRP (or sticker price), the selling price (Capitalized Cost), the
residual value (as a percentage) and the money factor.
Let's use the GTI 1.8T as an example. Adding in the 17" wheels, luxury and
leather packages, it will have an MSRP of $22,000. The residual value for a
36-month lease (with 15K miles/year) is 57%. Usually a 12K mile/year lease
will have a residual value 2% higher (or 59% in this case). The money factor
for 36 months is .00250. Now that we have our figures, we can calculate the
lease. This may seem complicated, but take it step by step and it is quite
First we calculate the lease cost. Take the MSRP ($22,000) and multiply it by
the residual value (59%). This gives us $12,980. Now, take the Capitalized
Cost (what you pay for the car) and subtract the residual value from it. Let's
say we pay $21,500 for this car. $21,500 - $12,980 = $8520. Now, we take that
$8520 and divide it by the lease term of 36 months. $8520 / 36 = $236.67.
If you didn't have to pay any interest, this is what your monthly payment
would be . Unfortunately, few banks lend money without charging interest . To
figure out the monthly interest you take the sales price ($21,500) and add it
to the residual value ($12,980) and multiply it by the money factor (.0025).
$21,500 + $12,980 = $34,480. $34,480 * .0025 = $86.20. So, you are paying
$86.20/month in interest. You add that to the monthly lease cost of $236.67
and you end up with a monthly payment of $322.87. But wait, there's more. Your
state needs to collect their part of the deal in the form of sales tax. If
your sales tax is 8.25%, you would multiply the monthly payment by 1.0825 for
a grand total of $349.51. This is your monthly payment.
Now, what about putting more money down in the form of a capitalized cost
reduction. You would simply deduct this amount from the capitalized cost
before you run the numbers. For example, if you put $1,000 down, your monthly
payment would drop to $316.73. Now you are probably asking yourself, why not
put more money down? First off, you have to pay your 8.25% sales tax on that
$1000. But that is no big deal. The bigger problem is that if the car ever
gets stolen or totaled, the insurance will pay off your lease, but you will
never see that $1,000 again since it was paid up front. Also, think of it this
way. If you were leasing an apartment and the rent was $750/mo, but the
landlord said, "Give me an extra couple of thousand up front and I will lower
the rent to $650/mo." Few of us would actually do that. Leasing your car is
just like renting. If you can't afford the payment without putting more money
down, I would suggest taking the money you would put down and put it in the
bank to earn interest and then deduct an amount every month to cover the
One more bit of advice. Never lease a car for a longer term than the
manufacturer's warranty. If you do and something breaks past the warranty
period, it will be your responsibility to get it fixed and pay for it
yourself. Since you will give the car back at the end of the lease, you are
basically paying to fix someone else's car. So while generally longer lease
terms will give you lower payments, don't lease past the warranty period.
Also, don't lease longer than you will think you will want your car. Breaking
a lease early can be very expensive.
Updated Lease/Loan/Balloon calculator added (thanks GTakacs).