Should I buy or lease a commercial vehicle? This is a question many drivers, owners, or fleet managers ask themselves before shopping for a truck or van. The decision depends on several factors. While owning your vehicle outright is a more popular option, leasing offers several advantages. When you lease a vehicle, you’re able to drive it for a set period of time before giving it back—similar to renting. To help make your decision, Commercial Truck Trader has compiled a list of seven things to consider before deciding to buy or lease a commercial vehicle.
1. Upfront Costs
Cost is often the biggest factor in this decision-making process. If you decide to buy, you’ll need to either make a down payment or pay the full value of the unit. This is where leasing can be a more attractive option, especially if you’re looking to save money. Many leasing companies don’t require a down payment, so there are little to no upfront costs involved.
2. Monthly Payments
Monthly payments are typically lower when you lease. These payments are based on the portion of the commercial vehicle that will be used under the lease agreement. For buying, payments can be higher since you are paying off the entire purchase price of the unit. The amount you pay monthly depends on your down payment. With each monthly payment, the buyer gains ownership equity in their vehicle.
Leasing allows you to choose from the latest models of commercial trucks and vans on the market. You’ll have your pick of units with the most up-to-date technology and features. While you can also shop the newest models to buy, you may be limited by what inventory is in your price range. Older models or pre-owned units are typically less expensive to purchase, making them a better option for price-conscious buyers.
Before buying or leasing, think about how often you’ll be using your commercial truck or van. When you buy, there are no restrictions on how many miles you can drive your vehicle since you own it. There are, however, usually mileage restrictions for leasing that limit your use and flexibility. To avoid potential charges for exceeding the mileage limit, you can add more miles into the lease upfront for a higher monthly payment.
Owning your commercial vehicle gives you total control over the unit. You’ll be able to customize your commercial truck or van with upfits that make your jobs easier and more efficient. Leasing doesn’t offer the same level of freedom since you don’t own the vehicle. If you do decide to make any upfits or customizations to the unit, you’ll have to remove them at the end of your lease term before returning the vehicle.
If you want to learn more about the benefits of upfits, read our previous article about the upside of vehicle upfits for your business.
6. Commitment and Maintenance
Ownership is a full-time commitment. As the owner, you are responsible for all long-term maintenance for the commercial truck or van. Leasing offers less of a commitment. You are accountable for your unit over the duration of your lease agreement, which is typically one to three years. A full-service lease may also cover the cost of repairs and routine maintenance, alleviating more of the commitment.
7. End of Term
If you bought your van or truck, you can either keep the unit with no monthly payments, sell the vehicle, or trade it in for a different one. Once you’ve reached the end of your lease term, you can return the unit and decide whether you want to purchase or lease another. If you like to have a new or new-to-you commercial vehicle every few years, leasing is a better option, but it is possible through buying too.
When it comes time to make a choice between buying or leasing a commercial vehicle, remember to keep in mind your personal or professional needs. Many drivers, owners, or fleet managers find buying to be the better option for long-term use, while leasing is preferred for short-term operation. Price, usage, and overall commitment are key factors that can help make your decision.