illustration by Paul Dolan

Residual worth is an estimate of what a automobile can be value on the finish of a lease, and it’s a key consider the price of a lease. The residual worth is about by the leasing firm (the lessor) in the beginning of a lease. On leases that permit buying the automobile after the lease ends, the residual worth additionally units the acquisition worth and isn’t negotiable.

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It is a significant component in the price of a lease as a result of the distinction between the capitalized value — the “worth” of the automobile in the beginning of the lease — and the residual worth is how a lot the lessee (that’s you) should pay over the course of the lease. Mainly, the lessee pays for the depreciation that the leasing firm expects over the time period of the lease.

For instance, say automobile has a capitalized value of $30,000 (this isn’t the MSRP, however a reduced worth) in the beginning of a 36-month lease. If the residual worth is about at $18,000, then the lessee must cowl the projected depreciation of $12,000, or about $333 per thirty days. (This doesn’t embrace finance costs, taxes or different lease charges.)

Residual values are based mostly on historic resale values for particular person autos and types, tendencies in new- and used-car gross sales and, to some extent, crystal-ball gazing as a result of the long run is tough to foretell.

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Manufacturers that historically command excessive resale worth and autos in excessive demand, akin to SUVs, can have greater residual values than ones with low resale worth or autos that had been closely discounted when new. 

Meaning they need to value much less to lease, although leasing corporations usually subsidize leases with numerous incentives to make the month-to-month funds decrease for shoppers.

Residual worth is just not the identical as resale worth, which is set by market situations within the used-car market akin to provide and demand, and the general well being of the financial system. The resale worth can change over the course of a lease.’s Editorial division is your supply for automotive information and opinions. Consistent with’s long-standing ethics coverage, editors and reviewers don’t settle for presents or free journeys from automakers. The Editorial division is unbiased of’s promoting, gross sales and sponsored content material departments.

Contributor Rick Popely has lined the auto trade for many years and hosts a weekly on-line radio present on E mail Rick


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