At the 36-month mark, when the high-mileage lease would be over, the driver who decided to instead purchase the vehicle would have $9,800 of payments left — on a car that's not worth that amount. Using the NADA trade-in guide to assess the value of a three-year-old Honda Accord LX sedan (in this case, a 2012 Honda Accord LX in average condition with an automatic transmission and 100,000 miles on the odometer), the trade-in value is an estimated $8,175. That's in line with Honda's expected residual value. However, the remaining loan balance of $9,794 for our 2015 example is nearly $1,600 more than that. The lesson here is that the faster a vehicle gains miles, the faster it loses value.
Why Choose a High-Mileage Lease?
A high-mileage lease can save a car shopper money and hassle. Assuming that the leased car isn't subjected to unusual wear and tear, the lessee just drops off the vehicle at the dealer at the end of the lease. There's no concern about the car's high mileage affecting its future value, because the driver is finished with the car.
On the other hand, negative equity (owing more on a car than it is actually worth) is a major concern for drivers who finance cars with little or no down payment and then pile on a lot of miles.
According to Edmunds.com transaction data, 47 percent of new-car deals made between January and October of 2014 included a trade-in, and nearly 28 percent of those vehicles traded in had negative equity. The average negative equity amount was $4,191. Negative equity can be dealt with in one of two ways: Either the owner pays it off as he sells or trades in his car or he rolls it into the next deal, making the newly purchased vehicle $4,191 more expensive.