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1. BE REALISTIC ABOUT MILEAGE
Lease contracts include limits over how many miles you can put on the vehicle. Once you go above the limit set forth in the lease, you'll be charged a per-mile rate.
A common annual limit is 12,000 miles, though some drivers may be tempted to opt for as low as 10,000 miles to save money. Be realistic about how much you'll need to drive, or you could face hundreds of dollars in fees at the end of the lease term.
One option is to prepay for additional miles at a lower rate. But make sure you have it built into the lease agreement that you'll be credited for any unused miles.
1. AVOID LEASES LONGER THAN THREE YEARS
More than half of all new auto leases are for between two and three years, according to Experian.
Dealerships are increasingly offering longer lease periods, but you should resist leases that run for more than three years, advises Philip Reed, senior consumer advice editor for car research site Edmunds.com. That's because longer lease terms can expose you to having to pay for repairs such as tire and brake replacements.
1. THINK TWICE ABOUT BUYING YOUR LEASED VEHICLE
At the end of the lease term, you'll have the right to buy the car you've been leasing for a predetermined amount known as the residual value.
With few exceptions, you'll generally end up paying more than if you had just bought the car to begin with, says Bartlett.
Reed advises that drivers get an estimate for the value of their vehicle when they near the end of their lease term before deciding whether to buy it.
1. REMEMBER THERE'S ALWAYS AN OUT
Websites like www.leasetrader.com and www.swapalease.com connect drivers who want out of their lease agreement early with car shoppers looking to take over an auto lease contract.