Car leasing: what customers should bear in mind

Car leasing can be interesting not only for the self-employed, but also for private individuals: as a rule, they receive a brand-new vehicle. However, there are a few things to keep in mind with leasing contracts.

By claudius maintz

In principle, leasing is a kind of rent: the car can be used for a certain period of time, for which a monthly fee is paid. The amount depends on the depreciation of the car during the leasing period (usually between 24 and 48 months). down payments of up to ten percent of the purchase price of the vehicle are common. the higher the down payment, the lower the monthly rate can be. There are now also leasing offers that can be concluded without an additional payment.

Vehicle remains the property of the leasing bank

The leasing bank buys the vehicle and becomes its owner (lessor) – not the customer! The customer only receives a right to use the vehicle for a limited period of time. Here, the difference to financing or installment purchase becomes clear: when buying a car with a loan from a bank, the buyer also becomes the owner from the beginning. Once the loan is paid off, you can keep the car.

Differences in car leasing contracts

  • At mileage leasing A mileage per year is fixed at the beginning of the lease. For deviations upwards and downwards, a bonus and malus amount is defined, which should be the same for more and less kilometers. Anyone opting for mileage leasing should know their mileage well. attention: due to corona and homeoffice this is currently often lower than usual. Even with a change of job or new life situations, the real mileage can change quickly.
  • With the so-called Residual value leasing at the beginning the value of the car at the end of the leasing contract is predicted. There is no mileage limit. At the end of the lease term, the customer (lessee) must pay the difference between this estimated value and the actual market price that can be achieved at that time.

Risks for consumers with residual value leasing

Unlike mileage leasing, the customer bears the full risk with residual value leasing. If the value of the car falls below the calculated value, the customer must pay the difference. There have been significant, unforeseen losses in value, for example as a result of the diesel scandal. For these cases, there are leasing contracts with right of offer – a subform of residual value leasing. the leasing bank can require the customer to buy the car himself in the event of a severe loss in value.

Another danger: some providers set the residual value unrealistically high when the contract is concluded in order to be able to calculate low leasing rates. At the end of the leasing contract, there is a large gap between the calculated and the actual residual value, which the customer has to pay.

It can also happen that there is a dispute about the residual value at the end because the lessor sets it too low – for example, because of alleged damage. It can therefore pay to have the car appraised by an expert shortly before the end of the contract. With mileage leasing, on the other hand, the dealer, manufacturer or bank bear the residual value risk.

customer pays for maintenance, insurance and accidental damage

Over the entire leasing period the car must be well maintained and cared for (contractual consumption). The customer is responsible for the car. As a rule, the customer must ensure timely maintenance, have repairs carried out at his own expense, pay taxes and take out insurance. In the event of a total loss, the installments must usually continue to be paid. The residual value also decreases, because the car is then an accident vehicle. This risk can be covered by so-called GAP insurance.

Car leasing offers tax advantages for business customers

No question: leasing is most interesting for business people. You can deduct the monthly installments from your taxes. When buying a new car, only one sixth of the purchase price per year is tax-deductible, but when leasing, the full rate is deductible every month.

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