Should you lease a car through a dealer or a leasing broker?

There are several options when it comes to choosing a lease provider, including dealerships and independent brokers. But which is the best option? Carwow explains.

What is car leasing?

In essence, by leasing a car you are renting it for an extended period of time. You pick whichever model of car you want from your chosen provider, you make the monthly payments and then, at the end of the term, the car goes back to the provider. 

Lease terms are usually only a couple of years, so you get the opportunity to change your car more often. You typically pay less than with other monthly payment options, as well. But you never actually own the car and will not generally be given the opportunity to buy it at the end of the lease, either. And mileage allowances can often be quite low.

That is just a quick a summary – you can get the full lowdown on exactly what leasing a car entails by reading the carwow guide.

Read more:

What is PCP?
What is Hire Purchase?

How does leasing a car from a dealer work?

If you want to lease a specific car, going straight to the relevant dealer may well be the easiest option. Pretty much every car manufacturer has its own leasing scheme, as do most of the large dealership groups. Incidentally, if you are going down this route, it is prudent to clarify exactly who you are entering a lease agreement with – the manufacturer or the dealer. 

Actually taking out the lease is as simple as ordering the car you want and filling in the paperwork – of which there will be a lot! You should be able to order a brand new car built to your exact specification or, if you do not want to wait, the dealer may well be able to offer you a car they already have in stock.

How does leasing a car through a broker work?

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of car leasing providers operating in the UK. Wading through them all to find the best deal on the car you want could easily become a full-time job. For brokers, doing exactly that actually is their full-time job! 

Brokers have relationships with multiple lease providers – including dealerships – and they’ll be able to find you the best deal from those providers. This can save you an awful lot of time and effort.

You tell the broker what sort of car you want, how long you want it for, what mileage you do and how much you can afford to pay each month. The broker will then find and present you with a range of options for you to choose from.

Brokers can be helpful in finding a good deal on a specific car, as well, but they may not work with a provider who supplies it. A really good broker would search for one, though. They want all the business they can get, after all!

What are the advantages of leasing from a dealer?

Online shopping is booming across the entire retail industry, including car sales. But there is still a lot to be gained from going to a shop and physically examining the thing you are thinking about buying. 

That is especially true when buying something as complicated, expensive and personal as a car. It is only by going to look at a car, sit in it, drive it, put the kiddie seats/dog/wheelchair/cello in it, that you can truly know if the car will work for you. And it is only by going to a dealer that you can do that. 

Even if you are not actually planning on leasing a car from a dealer, it is always worth going to one to check the car out. You do not want to get saddled with a car you do not like, after all.

If you are leasing a car from a dealer’s stock, you may be able to drive it away there and then. Many dealers do not charge admin fees, either, and the servicing process will be quick and easy because you simply take the car to the dealer you got it from.

What are the advantages of using a broker?

As we have already established, the main advantage is the time you save by having someone else do the leg work. Since the broker will work with multiple providers, there will be a greater variety of cars available to you, which is helpful if you do not know exactly which car you want. 

A good broker will have the knowledge to help you zero in on which of the available options will be best for you. They will also be able to present a range of deals – simply picking the cheapest option may not be the best as it may not have a big enough mileage allowance or include useful extras such as a maintenance package.

The brokerage process can be dealt with on-line or over the phone, which may be more convenient for some people. The broker should talk you through any complex paperwork, as well.

What are the disadvantages of leasing from a dealer?

Obviously, dealers will only be able to lease you a car from the manufacturer that they, err, deal with. That limits your choice. And, while you may be able to order a brand new car in the exact spec you want, you will have to wait for it to be built. They may not be able to offer the most competitive monthly payment amount, either. 

What are the disadvantages of using a broker?

Brokers do not have a physical presence, so you cannot go and see whatever car you are thinking about leasing. You lose the personal touch, too, especially if you are going through the leasing process entirely on-line.

All brokers work with multiple lease providers, but some only have a small selection on speed dial, limiting the choice of car available. Equally, some brokers will not be able to get as a good a deal from a given provider as others, so there is no guarantee that any one broker is getting you the best possible price from any one provider. Rather, they are simply getting the best price that their relationship with the provider affords.

How big the broker is will also affect the range of cars they can offer you. The fewer providers they work with, the fewer cars will be available. Incidentally, brokers who work with a lot of providers might take a while in sifting through possibly thousands of available deals to find you the best options. It will probably be worth the wait, though!

If you take out a maintenance package with your lease, the process of getting your car serviced could take longer if you have to go through the broker to arrange it.

It is also worth remembering that any car you lease through a broker will probably already exist, so you will not be able to add any extras or perhaps even choose the colour. Most providers specify their cars with desirable extras and a wide range of colours, but someone else may already have had the last red one!

There will, of course, be admin fees to pay, as well.

How do I know if the broker is any good?

Good, reputable brokers will be members of the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA). The BVRLA logo should be on the homepage of the broker’s website. The BVRLA has a directory of members on its website, as well, which is useful for finding a broker in the first place. It always pays to consult Google for reviews of any broker you are thinking of using. If it has been rated highly by Trustpilot, you can be confident it is not a cowboy operation.

So, what is the best option?

Whether you buy it outright or pay for it monthly, acquiring a new car is the second biggest financial commitment you will make after your house. On that basis, we advocate shopping around as widely as possible. If leasing is the right route for you, going through a good broker cuts out an awful lot of leg work.

There are the factors we discussed earlier to bear in mind. But, if you go into the process with your eyes open and question the broker on anything you are unsure of, it should be a relatively quick, straightforward process to get the right car at the right price.

On that basis, it is worth at least consulting a broker if you are thinking about leasing a new car.