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4 useful leasing strategies you weren’t aware of

Many drivers are aware of how car leases work, but they may not realize just how intricate they can get. If you’re strategic about how you create your lease, you could end up saving a significant amount of money over the lifetime of the contract.

Here are four leasing strategies you may not have realized existed:

Extend your lease month-to-month

Just because your lease is about to expire, doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll need to determine whether to buy the car outright or find a new one right away. Many dealerships will allow you to extend the lease month-to-month if you’re unsure about your decision.

This allows you the flexibility to do further research on vehicles on the market and gives you more time to decide whether you’d like to purchase the vehicle outright.

Sign a single-payment lease

If you have an influx of cash and prefer to lease instead of finance, you should inquire about signing a single-payment lease.

Of course, this strategy will avoid the burden of having to pay a set amount each month and, in most cases, you’ll be able to get a lower interest rate using this strategy. This strategy can be useful for young drivers who likely don’t have much of a credit history.

In an ideal world, you could trade-in your current vehicle and a little cash to pay for the single-payment lease.

Gap insurance

Gap insurance covers you for the difference between the market value of the vehicle and the amount remaining on your loan should you get into an accident. Since you generally pay less on a monthly basis in a lease, it’s a very good idea to get gap insurance, as you could otherwise end up owing thousands of dollars if your car is totaled or stolen earlier in the lease.

Unless you’ve made a significant down payment up front, getting gap insurance is a smart decision.

Make a bigger down payment

If you’ve only ever financed vehicles in the past, you may have noticed that your down payment didn’t make a huge difference on your monthly payment.

However, since you’re only paying the difference between the price of the vehicle and the value at the end of the contract in a lease, making a bigger down payment makes a lot more sense.

For example, say you’re considering buying a vehicle worth $25,000. If you make a $2,500 down payment, you’re only paying 10 percent of what you owe if you finance. However, if the residual value of the vehicle is $12,500, a down payment of $2,500 would equal 20 percent of what you owe and have a much greater effect on your monthly rate.

Trading-in your old vehicle also has a greater effect when you lease, since it’s essentially used as a down payment.

 

Leasing in Newmarket

What is the difference between an open vs. closed lease?

If you’re considering leasing a vehicle in the foreseeable future, it’s important to determine what type of lease is right for you. For those who aren’t aware, there are two main types of leases: open-end and closed-end.

Read below to find out a little more about each:

Open-end lease

Open-end leases allow the lessee (the one who borrows the vehicle) to guarantee a value at the end of the lease. This is called the Guaranteed Residual Value (GRV) and is outlined in the lease contract. The lessee has the option of purchasing, selling or trading-in the leased vehicle at the end of the contract for the GRV provided the car is worth at least that amount.

If the market value of the vehicle is less than the GRV at the end of the lease, the lessee is responsible for the difference, whether they plan to buyback the vehicle or return it to the lessor. For instance, if the GRV is $10,000 and the market value of the car is only $8,000 at the end of the contract, the lessee will be responsible for paying the difference of $2,000.

In return for bearing the financial risk of the lease, the lessee typically pays a less expensive rate and doesn’t have to worry about a mileage restriction.

Closed-end lease

Closed-end leases are designed to put the cost of depreciation onto the lessor, instead of the lessee. Instead of negotiating a GRV, customers have the option of either returning the car at the end of the lease (assuming it’s in good standing) or buying it back from the lessor.

However, the lessee is responsible for paying for any damages at the end of the lease that go beyond normal wear and tear. Note: normal “wear and tear” is typically more stringent with a closed-end lease compared to an open-end lease.

Most closed-end leases also have mileage restrictions between 16,000-24,000 kms per year. If you exceed this limit, you will be forced to pay a fee at the end of your lease. If you go over by a lot, you could end up paying a good chunk of change.

Open End lease vs closed end lease

 

Which lease option should you choose?

If you spend a lot of your day inside your vehicle, an open-end lease is likely the better option for you. You won’t have to worry about surpassing the mileage limit and it can be a cheaper alternative as long as the vehicle doesn’t depreciate more than the GRV.

However, the majority of consumers still prefer closed-end leases as they’d rather put the financial risk onto the lessor. As long as you take good care of the vehicle and don’t exceed the mileage limit, you won’t have to worry about paying a lump sum at the end of the lease contract.

 

How to return your car at the end of your lease

Leases can be a smart alternative to financing, but they can also become expensive if you haven’t taken proper care of the vehicle. If you return your car in poor shape at the end of your lease, you could incur a number of charges that could ultimately lead to a hefty bill.

Here are a few things you should consider doing prior to returning your leased vehicle:

Ensure you have the appropriate tires

Make sure your vehicle is equipped with the proper tires before you have it inspected. If it’s well into the spring and you still haven’t changed your winter tires, make sure to switch them as soon as possible. Otherwise, you could end up being charged for a set of all-seasons.

If it is winter, it’s fine if you have a set of winter tires, but make sure they meet the manufacturer’s requirements ahead of time.

It should be noted that just because you have the right tires doesn’t mean you won’t get dinged. If you haven’t changed your tires since the beginning of your lease, there’s a decent chance they’ll have excess wear, meaning you will be charged for a replacement set.

Clean it

Bringing in a dirty vehicle will only start the inspection off on the wrong foot. Have the interior cleaned a couple days ahead of time to remove any garbage, dirt, and/or debris. If it looks like you take care of your car, your inspection is likely to go a lot smoother.

If you don’t want to clean it yourself, it may not be a bad idea to have it detailed instead.

Bring your maintenance records

Depending on the terms of your lease, you may be required to provide proof that you performed basic maintenance on the vehicle throughout the life of your lease. This could mean showing receipts for oil changes, filter changes, etc.

Book the inspection early

It’s a smart idea to have your inspection booked as early as the lease-return rules allow. If you wait until the last minute, you may not have enough time to correct any issues and could incur a number of charges that you could’ve otherwise fixed.

This also gives you time to get any quotes and determine whether it’s cheaper to correct the issue yourself or just pay the fee. Many drivers run into trouble when they believe the lease-return process is much quicker than it really is.

Return everything

It’s important that you return everything you received when you were given the vehicle. This means everything. A second sets of keys, the original floor mats, and a spare tire are all items that should be returned.

Negotiate

You should be aware that the inspection report you receive isn’t necessarily final. If one of the charges seems high, you’re free to negotiate a lower price.

 

how to fix credit score

Tips for improving your credit score

Unless you want to spend a large sum of money in interest when you buy a vehicle, you’ll want to ensure your credit score is the best it can possibly be prior to purchasing. If you’re struggling with reaching your desired credit score, read ahead for some helpful tips:

Follow the 30% rule

Just because you have credit available to you doesn’t mean you should be using it all. In fact, many experts suggest that you should never use more than 30% of your available credit.

For example, if you own two credit cards, both with a limit of $5,000, you should only be using $3,000 at most at any given time.

If you currently spend more than 30% of your available credit, it may be a good idea to have your limit increased. You’ll have a much easier time reaching your target goal.

Don’t close an old account

The longer you’ve had an account open for, the higher your credit score will be if you’ve shown a strong ability to pay off your debt.  If you transfer your old account to a different product, it will be treated as an entirely new account, which may decrease your credit score.

If you have an old credit card with an annual fee of $0, you should continue to keep it open and use it only periodically to boost your score.

Only apply for credit if you need to

Every time you apply for credit, someone will need to check your credit history to determine whether to accept your application. This entire process is generally referred to as a “hit” and will go against your credit score if you have many hits.

Credit card applications, rental applications and even some employment applications will trigger a hit. Therefore, if you’re looking to buy a car in the near future, make sure to limit these applications prior to purchasing.

 

Dispute any errors in your credit report

Once you’ve obtained a copy of your credit report, check it thoroughly to see if there are any errors. Remember that it’s your responsibility to point out any mistakes. Otherwise, you could be dinged harder than you think.

For instance, your score could take a big hit if your report states that you made a late payment that you actually made on time.

Pay off any outstanding balances

Of course, if you have any outstanding balances, it’s important that you pay these off in the months prior to applying for a car loan. Not only will you have a higher credit score, but you will also have an easier time paying off your monthly car payments by reducing the amount of outstanding debt.

 

Car Detailing in Fall

Why you should get your car detailed this fall

If there’s one thing that every driver can agree on, it’s that winter is the worst time of year to be on the road.  Not only is wintertime no bueno for drivers, but it isn’t great for vehicles either, as the combination of ice, snow, and salt can wreak havoc on your car.

To counteract this problem, you should strongly consider detailing your vehicle in the coming weeks.  Read below to discover some of the benefits to having your car detailed before the winter:

Wax-On

If there’s one reason why you should have your vehicle detailed in the fall, it’s to limit the damage that your exterior will experience as a result of the harsh conditions.  Adding a layer of protective wax isn’t a foolproof solution, but will put more of a buffer between your car’s paint and the elements.

You may not realize this, but your vehicle’s finish is delicate, and will struggle to survive even a couple winters without the proper protection.  Failing to wax your vehicle could lead to a number of problems, including rust, which can be a death sentence to your car’s exterior if you fail to catch it in the early stages.

Other than that, damage to your car’s paint could turn it from a cool whip to an eyesore. Style may not be the number one thing you look for in a vehicle, but it’s always an added bonus when your car is looking fresh.

Clean seating

While it may be most beneficial to have your exterior detailed, having your interior cleaned can be advantageous.  If your vehicle has leather upholstery, you should have the leather conditioned as soon as possible. If you wait until the winter to have it done, the leather may already be too dried out and begin to crack. At that point, you’ll either be left with a less attractive interior or an expensive replacement.

It should be noted that it’s always better to condition the leather when it’s warmer out. At a certain temperature (roughly 10 degrees Celsius), the leather struggles to absorb the moisture from the conditioner rendering the project somewhat ineffective.

Clean floors

Salt may make the roads a lot safer, but it also makes the floors of our vehicles a lot dirtier.

While cleaning your floors now won’t completely eliminate the salt that’s dragged into your vehicle on a daily basis, it will make your floors look passable for at least a little while.

Money well spent

Most car details cost between $75-150, so you won’t have to break the bank to have your car professionally cleaned. That’s a heck of a lot cheaper than having to get your car-repainted, so don’t wait to have your vehicle detailed this fall.

 

3 great Muskoka road trip ideas

3 beautiful fall road trips in Muskoka

Following months of hot weather, the temperature is finally beginning to cool down, meaning the beautiful autumn scenery is in full bloom around Ontario. If you want to experience some of the best scenery the province has to offer, head up north to Muskoka to witness autumn at its finest.

Here are several fun ideas you can try out over the next couple of months:

Gravenhurst

If you like options on your road trips, Gravenhurst is the place to be. From historic sightseeing to biking to checking out the local brewery to taking in the beautiful Lake Muskoka, Gravenhurst is an awesome place to spend a weekend during the fall months.

There are also plenty of antique and specialty shops where you’ll be sure to find an item or two for your home.

Of course, you can’t visit Gravenhurst without hopping aboard the Royal Mail Ship Segwun – North America’s oldest operating steamship. This ship offers sightseeing cruises along with lunch and dinner options until the end of October, so make sure to visit within the next couple of weekends.

Bala

Bala is the perfect place to visit if you’re looking for a calm, relaxing spot to spend your weekend. Not only are there plenty of trails that showcase the beautiful fall weather, but there are also a number of places to canoe and/or kayak.

If you’re an Anne of Green Gables fan, you can even check out the Lucy Maud Montgomery Museum.

If you’re looking for a place to eat, consider checking out Don’s Bakery. This old-school bakery serves a number of delicious lunch items as well as baked goods that you can take with you on the road.

Huntsville

If a great view is what you’re looking for, you should consider visiting the Lions Lookout in Huntsville. While it offers a great view at any point in the year, Lions Lookout is at its best in the fall when you can witness the stunning autumn colours.

If you’re looking for some other fun activities, you can check out Sugarbush Hill Maple Farm, Muskoka Heritage Place, the Group of Seven Outdoor Gallery, or just walk along any of the trails that pop up throughout Huntsville. You can also visit Algonquin Outfitters Outdoor Adventure Store if you’re looking for bikes, canoes or kayaks to rent.

If golf’s your game, there are actually seven courses in the area, so you should have no issue finding a place to play.

How to get there

If you’re coming from Toronto or the surrounding area, the easiest way to get to Muskoka is to go north on Highway 400. As you approach Gravenhurst, you’ll need to prepare to exit to get to Highway 169. If you see the famous Muskoka Chair, you’ll know you made it.

 

Ontario road trips in Fall

5 Ontario road trips to go on this fall

It will soon look like fall outside as the trees begin to change colour. You really have no excuse for not experiencing some of the beautiful nature over the coming weeks, as there are plenty of picturesque spots throughout Ontario.

Read ahead for the five road trips you should go on this fall:

Dundas Peak

If you’re looking for something close to the GTA, head a little west to see Dundas Peak, which is situated just outside Hamilton.

Hike to the top of any hill to experience some of the most breath-taking views that this province has to offer. If you’re a fan of changing leaves, Dundas Peak it an absolute must-visit destination this fall. Also, since it’s so close, you’ll likely only need half a day to see everything.

St Jacob’s

If you’re willing to travel a little further west, St Jacob’s offers arguably the most unique experience on this list. You’ll feel like you’ve gone back in time due to the strong Mennonite presence in the area. Go for a horse-drawn trolley tour or check out St. Jacob’s Market when you’re there.

While it’s not as close as Dundas Peak, St. Jacob’s is just north of Waterloo, making it a perfect destination for a Saturday day trip. Of course, you can also check out the nearby Oktoberfest activities in Kitchener.

Niagara-on-the-lake

If breweries and wineries are your thing, head south to Niagara-on-the-lake during the next few weeks. Not only are there plenty of beautiful trails to walk in the area, but the views from the lake will be enough to make this trip truly breath-taking.

There are also plenty of pumpkin patches in the area if you’re interested in getting the full autumn experience.

Collingwood

If you want to have a little fun with your fall road trip, head out to Collingwood for a weekend. From beautiful golf courses to horseback riding to ziplining to mountain biking, you can be assured that there’s something for everyone when you go.

Of course, if you just went to take it easy, you’ll be happy to hear that there are plenty of relaxing spas throughout the area.

Prince Edward County

If you live further east, travelling to Prince Edward County could be a more realistic option for you. Prince Edward County offers plenty of fall celebrations and festivals from October to November, so you can be certain that something is going on during harvest season.

While the area can sometimes be a little overcrowded in the summer as Sandbank Provincial Park is nearby, the influx of tourists tends to die down in the fall, making the trip a little more relaxing and enjoyable if you’re going with your significant other.

 

Car Safety Features

Knowing the limitations of safety technology

There’s no question that the latest developments in car technology have made the road a safer place, as many of the innovative systems created have helped to avoid countless collisions over the years. However, there are also a number of drivers who may become too dependent on these features without understanding their limitations.

Read ahead to learn the drawbacks of some of the most common car safety technology:

Electronic Stability Control (ESC)

While ESC can be an effective system, it still has its limitations. If the driver is going too fast or is driving along a slippery road, ESC benefits may become limited.

ESC can only use the traction that is already available. It cannot create traction on its own. Therefore, it may struggle to help in the wintertime when the roads are icy.

Blind-spot warning

While blind-spot detection can prevent you from sideswiping another vehicle, it can’t pick up on everything. Most systems struggle to detect motorcyclists, cyclists, and pedestrians and also have a hard time monitoring fast-moving vehicles.

Don’t assume you’re in the clear when you change lanes just because your vehicle is equipped with blind-spot detection.

Forward-collision warning

While some forward-collision warning systems are capable of detecting animals and pedestrians, others are only able to spot other vehicles.

Additionally, many forward-collision warning systems struggle in inclement weather. They may not be as useful in extremely sunny weather or at nighttime.

If you’re driving down a long windy road to get to your cottage when the sun’s gone down, don’t rely on the forward-collision warning system to be able to detect any animals.

Automatic emergency braking

You should be aware that not all automatic emergency braking systems are created equal. While some are designed to avoid collisions, others were only developed to reduce the severity of crashes. Therefore, just because you have automatic emergency braking doesn’t mean you should be any less vigilant on the brakes.

Adaptive cruise control

This may come as a no-brainer to some, but many drivers aren’t aware that adaptive cruise control isn’t capable of completely stopping your vehicle. Also, it really only works when the road is straight and will stop working on a long, windy road.

Lane Departure Warning (LDW)

This system relies heavily on visible lane markings in order to do its job. If the markings are faded, covered in snow or missing altogether, the system may not be able to perform its job effectively.

Realize that in general, many of these systems work best in ideal conditions. If the weather outside isn’t perfect, you likely won’t get the same level of reliability from many of your vehicle’s safety features. At the end of the day, they are useful tools, but a level of danger exists when you begin to rely too heavily on them.  These systems are designed to assist drivers, however there is no replacement for being alert behind the wheel.

 

avoid the most common traffic tickets

Tips for avoiding common traffic tickets

Few things are more frustrating than getting pulled over for a traffic violation when you’re trying to get somewhere. Not only is it an added expense, but your insurance could also go up as a result.

If you’ve recently received a ticket and are looking for ways to lower the odds of getting another one in the near future, read ahead:

Buckle up

As a driver, not only are you responsible for ensuring you wear a seat belt, but you also need to make sure that everyone under the age of 16 is wearing one too. Drivers over the age of 16 are responsible for doing up their own seat belt.

Having a broken seat belt is no excuse, and you can still be fined for having one, even if it’s not in use. At the end of the day, you should always buckle up.

Slow down

It should come as little surprise, but the easiest way to avoid a ticket is to just slow down. The faster you go, the larger your fine will be, and could negatively affect your insurance rate. While it may be tougher to slow down when you’re in a rush, realize that it’s in your best interest to ease off the pedal.

Not only can you avoid speeding tickets by slowing down, but you’ll also just be a safer driver.

Give way to emergency vehicles

It’s your responsibility as a driver is to ensure emergency vehicles are able to make their way through traffic with ease when their siren is on. Failure to do so could cost you four demerit points.

When you’re on a two-way street, make sure you move to the right as soon as possible. If you’re in the middle of the intersection, go straight through and pull to the right immediately.

Come to a complete stop

Many people have the urge to come to a rolling stop when they’re in a hurry. While this may seem more time efficient, failure to come to a complete stop could result in a fine. Remember that it takes time to come a full stop. If you put on the brakes last minute, you could end up stopping after the stop line.

Look up rules ahead of time

If you’re driving outside of Ontario, it’s important to look up the local traffic laws prior to leaving. While many laws are similar across Canada, you could end up running into different laws if you’re travelling through the United States.

Keep a safe distance

If you want to avoid an accident on your trip, it’s vital that you keep a safe distance between the car in front of you. It’s generally recommended that you keep about a two-second distance, but that should be extended if driving conditions aren’t ideal.

 

5 safety tips for back-to-school driving

School is officially back in session and students will be excited, which means the roads and sidewalks will be crowded with children. Stay alert!  Since there will be an increase in pedestrians and vehicles on the road compared to the last two months, you should try to be extra cautious on your morning commute.

Here are some tips for staying safe during back-to-school season:

Watch out for new drivers

If you live near a high school, you’ll likely be sharing the road with a number of drivers who recently got their license. Since new drivers aren’t as experienced, they’re likely to make more mistakes behind the wheel. As a result, it’s important that you practice defensive driving techniques so you’re ready for anything that lies ahead. Make sure you’re wide awake before stepping into your vehicle in the morning.

Take it slow in school zones

It may be frustrating to drive just 40 km/h in a school zone, but you have to remember that the decreased speed limit is there for a reason. You’re probably used to dealing with taller pedestrians and could therefore have difficulty noticing a small child crossing the street if you’re travelling at a normal speed.

It should be noted that you could face a serious fine if you speed in a school zone, so it’s not in your best interest to speed through no matter which way you slice it.

Watch for crossing guards

Always be on the lookout for crossing guards whenever you’re driving near a school. Most crossing guards fortunately wear bright-coloured vests, so they shouldn’t be particularly hard to spot.  If you see one crossing the road, you must come to a complete stop and only proceed once everyone is safely across and the crossing guard has lowered their stop sign.

Always stop for school buses

If you see a school bus with its lights flashing, stop behind it and don’t try to pass it. Children can be very unpredictable crossing the street, and may not walk in front of the bus like they’re supposed to.

Be patient and wait until the bus driver has turned their lights off before proceeding. Too many children are victims of car accidents because other drivers aren’t careful around school buses.

Leave a little earlier

Since the roads and sidewalks are likely to be a lot more crowded in your neighbourhood, it’s not a bad idea to leave your house 10 minutes earlier to avoid feeling rushed.

Many drivers get into trouble when they begin to stress about being late and don’t exercise the proper caution behind the wheel. Leaving earlier can help to eliminate the fear of being late. Instead of stressing, you can concentrate all your thoughts and energy on the road ahead.

Final word of note… remember that children are unpredictable.  That unpredictability is only heightened by the excitement of their first days at school.  Be safe and alert.