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Ah, you are a God-send! I just read about you in the Providence Journal. I*m a single woman, retired and don*t have any family or male friends to help me with car buying. I*ve been wishing there was someone I could go to to help me with this big financial decision. I looked up female friendly dealers and there are none with in 50 miles. Here*s the scoop: Just before I retired, I leased a used Volvo S60T it was two years old; low miles, leather seats,moon-roof~the whole *schbang*! etc. I loved that car. "Volvo for life" was my intention, this could be my last car; make it a good one and make it last long. The lease was affordable because I put $9000.00 down.(It was around $300. mo.) I had never leased before and my thinking was, I have the money now, and if I put that much down on this car, when the lease is up, I*ll pay that much less for the buyout and it will be affordable to own. I now know I put way, too much down. Later, 13 mos.or so~ I got a "bubble" in a rear tire and the dealer wanted $300.00 to replace the tire!!! Egads!!!! This is when I exposed my vulnerability, they jumped on it. Well, after a long day and lots of sweat in the dealership, long story...short: I found myself turning in that car and now leasing a brand new 2007 s80!! At the end of the"session" of number crunching and just before I was given the keys, the dealer said I needed to pay $3000.00 MORE !!!! I was now in another least for 2 years. I pay $339.00 a month and the lease is up in 2 months. The dealer kept saying what a good deal I got and I kept saying: yes but you have $12,000. of my money and will I get credit for that when the lease is up? I know, I know, I know this was learning the very hard way!!! I forgot to take all of my assertiveness training into the car dealership. I had never leased a car and went in" just to look" and was kept there and then number crunching started up and the young salesman,(son of owner)-seemed-oh-so-sincere and helpful! I immediately knew I had made a very big mistake. The huge car sat in my driveway for 3 weeks, as I wouldn*t drive it because it was too big for me (I was afraid I would get scratches on the car*or worst...I live in a small city.) And, I resented this manipulated transaction. Also, I realized, this car was not a fit for me: financially, size-wise and socially (I*m not a status seeker). I even went back to the dealership with a friend and asked them to take the car back. This was a humiliating experience. Since I could not undo this lease, at least having put so much down, the monthly payments were affordable ($340.mo.). This was a very expensive lesson and I do not want to lease or buy another Volvo. The dealer insisted it was much better to lease that to buy any car. Yes, perhaps for the expensive Volvos, but some of the lesser expensive models also have "deals" on leasing. Do you agree? However, I have to do something for transportation. The lease is up in months. Understandably, this has diminished my trust of auto dealers AND my ability to negotiate (deal) with them. I JUST WANT A SMALLER RELIABLE CAR WITH GOOD GAS MILEAGE WITH SOME SNAZZ. (OK so after finally driving this "loaded" s80, I*m a little spoiled....heated leather seats are mighty fine in frigid NE winters. Here are some of the cars I have considered: All Major Hybrids The Honda, Toyota and Nisson Altima Non-Hybrids: Honda Civic Honda Accord Toyota Camery Infinity G37 Mazada 6 Mazada 3 Honda Civic Honda Accord Pruis Infinity G37 Toyota Camry I have also thought that it might be best to get an 2008*as there hasn*t been much change and it would be a little easier on the insurance payments. I really don*t do that much driving. I*ve put on just a little over 11,000 miles on the s80 Volvo in the last 2 years. I do mostly city driving and out on the highways a bit, maybe 5 times a week. Any help you could give me would be greatly appreciated. Here are my questions: 1. Buy out my lease: $31,000? Keep the car. 2. Buy or Lease a new car ? 3. What car??? 4. Any senior discounts out there? 5. Buy/Lease an *07 *08 or *09 ? 6. Is their a car that you would suggest for me that I haven*t thought of yet? This letter is longer than I originally intended, but I have condensed this as much as I could. Thank you for your time in reading this and helping me sort through this. Sincerely, Jane

Answers from the Automotive Experts

Jennifer Streets, Director of Marketing  at Swapalease.com Jane, I can definitely see why you have reservations about going back to a dealer. The only good thing you can say is that you lived and learned. From reading your question I would say that your driving lifestyle fits great with leasing. You don

Jessie L Thatcher, F&I and Sales Specialist at Reynolds and Reynolds Company  (Retired) Don't feel bad, this is a very typical story. My advice is simple...do all your research before you go into any other dealership. If you decide to lease put $0 down,only pay the first and last payment and any fees and taxes that are required. A vehicle is not an investment, consequently you do not build equity during the term of the lease. Now is a great time to buy a vehicle as there as a lot of incentives available particularly on domestic models. I noted you only listed import vehicles. You should know that the quality and equipment on domestic vehicles is the same and in some cases better than some of the domestics and the rebates and incentives are frequently better. All info is available on the internet, including prices, values and etc. You should go to a site such as edmunds.com or kbb.com and find out the actual value of your current vehicle to see if it is as much as your buy out. You don*t seem to like the vehicle so I don*t know why you would buy it for the long term? Keep in mind that if you are prepared when contacting the dealership you will not be inclined to be persuaded by a nice young man. You can actually do all your negotiations over the web or even on the phone without entering the store until you are ready to pick up the vehicle of choice. If you are undecided about what to buy you might consider renting a vehicle for the weekend so you can drive one and see if it is truly a fit for you and your lifestyle. This is a great way to narrow down your choices and insure that you are getting the vehicle that fits. Check all your personal finance sources to see what they can offer you in the way of interest and terms, if you have a great credit score, some manufacturers are offering 0% interest. You can check your credit score at several free sites including freecreditreport.com. If it is over 700 you have a good chance of qualifying for a low interest rate. The best advice is do all your homework now, have your car cleaned thoroughly, note any excessive usage or damages, then turn the vehicle in after you make the last payment, be prepared for any mileage charges and termination charges listed on your original lease contract. You do not have any owner interest in your current vehicle regardless of how much money you paid when you leased the vehicle (this only lowered your payments). Buy what you really want and what suits you for the next 4-5 years. Start now and in two months you will be prepared to make a decision that you are truly happy to have made.

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