Short-term vroom
February 23, 2011 10:22 PM   Subscribe

I've had my driver's license for less than a year, and I want to have a car for a couple months so I can practice driving every day and get really comfortable- I think it'll make me a much safer driver in the long run. What's the best way to get a car for just a couple of months?

My lifestyle is mostly errands in the city, not a big commute, so my mileage would be relatively low. I work freelance, have great credit, and enough cash on hand that I can pay about $300/month (paying less would be great, though). I live in Toronto and have a G2 license.

I assume leasing a used car is best? I've looked into AutoShare or Zipcar, but they seem to work out to over $8/hour, whereas if I could lease for under $300/month that's only $10/day.

I don't really know anything about leasing a vehicle, how it works, even what kind of car I should get.
Any recommendations for specific leasing companies in Toronto?
Is insurance included in a lease?
What should I be aware of going into this?
Is this plan actually dumb? If so, what would be better?

I'd really appreciate advice- I don't know anything (at all!) about cars or even what leasing entails, exactly. Please feel free to speak to me in ridiculously simple terms; I kinda need to be walked through this in baby steps.
posted by pseudostrabismus to Travel & Transportation (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Do you mind what the car looks like? Do you have the funds to buy a car outright?

I've no idea about the Toronto car market, but if you can buy a car for ~$2000 you should be able to drive it for a few months and then sell it again for a similar amount (possibly even making a profit if you bought at a good price).
posted by twirlypen at 10:32 PM on February 23, 2011

Insurance and gas are not included in your lease, but *would* be included with Zipcar (and likely AutoShare, although I'm not familiar with them).

Zipcar at least does have some copay if you do get in an accident, similar to the deductible you'd have if you had insurance on your own.

I think twirlypen's "purchase an inexpensive car" is better, if you can swing it.
posted by nat at 10:35 PM on February 23, 2011

I don't know anything about the way it works in Canada, but in the US leasing requires a longer-term commitment than just a couple of months. Rental, as compared to leasing, is more expensive. out to over $8/hour, whereas if I could lease for under $300/month that's only $10/day.

How likely is it that you'll drive an average 75 minutes/day, every day?
posted by jon1270 at 4:18 AM on February 24, 2011

Coming in to second nat and jon1270. A zipcar (or it's equivalent) comes with both gas and you are covered for insurance. Doubleplusgood that you'll now have a car membership for the year that will allow you to drive as needed.

I agree that you won't likely use a leased car enough to make up the difference in per/hr cost.

Add to that, you'll be able to try a variety of cars.
posted by qwip at 4:26 AM on February 24, 2011

All the major car rental companies have monthly rates, so you could comparison shop between them. I do think, though, that unless you're taking the car somewhere all day (i.e., commuting, which you said you don't do with the car) then the Zipcar is probably your best bet.
posted by backseatpilot at 5:08 AM on February 24, 2011

I'd recommend buying a beater off of craigslist or through your local classifieds. You might have to put a few hundred dollars into it or you could do the work yourself and learn the art of auto repair. When you are done with it you can sell it and get most, if not all of your investment back. As a bonus you won't have to worry about accidents, theft or the dings and dents city cars tend to accumulate that would be an issue with a zip car, rental or leased vehicle.
posted by woodjockey at 5:29 AM on February 24, 2011

You might not be able to use Zipcar yet. I have the same problem as you can and Zipcar won't rent to you until you've had a driver's license for a year in the U.S. Which screws me until the end of the year, dangit.

It is less clear on non-US licenses, though. So maybe you have hope?
posted by jenfullmoon at 5:47 AM on February 24, 2011

Hi everyone, thank you for the answers so far.

I can't drive a Zipcar or AutoShare car for a while yet as my license is too new. When I can drive them I'll get one, but right now I'd like to just practice by driving *everywhere I go* for a bit, and the thing is sometimes I go somewhere for a couple hours and then somewhere else later, so that would mean renting the car for like 4 hours a day = $25/day or more. Plus I'd have to walk three blocks to get & return the car to the nearest ZipCar lot every time, which is kind of a drag; it's cold out and I'm always late as it is.

Given these conditions, leasing or buying would likely still be cheaper & more convenient if the insurance isn't too crazy, so I'm still most interested in that. Any more advice on leasing or buying would be great. Thanks!
posted by pseudostrabismus at 4:34 PM on February 24, 2011

Uhh... find out what insurance is. In Ontario, it's crazy expensive, especially for a new male driver. I mean $200-300+/month and up.
posted by defcom1 at 4:47 PM on February 25, 2011

(Not saying you're a new male driver, just my experience with the wonderful world of Ontario car insurance.)
posted by defcom1 at 4:51 PM on February 25, 2011

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