LeaseTrader.com predicts the number of people escaping a lease because they can't afford it will jump to 4.5% of transactions this year -- more than double the 2% annual rate in previous years.
What you should do: Don't lease a car unless you really do your homework. Once again, the FTC has some sage advice on this topic. If you're in a lease you can't afford, check out "3 steps to break a lease without getting rear-ended." If you're shopping for new wheels, check sites like LeaseTrader.com to see if you can scoop up a bargain by taking over a lease from someone who can no longer afford it.
Young people lacking drive?
Finally, and most shockingly, the complications of car ownership have apparently turned off 18- to 34-year-olds -- an age group known as "millennials" -- from even wanting a car.
The thought of a teenager not wanting to drive would shock any baby boomer. But a study by car-sharing service Zipcar claims: "Almost half of all 18- to 34-year-old drivers are driving less, and nearly two-thirds would drive less if alternative transportation options were available."
One reason for this? Oddly enough, it's social media. The Zipcar survey says more than half -- 54% -- of millennials said they'd rather spend their time interacting with friends online than driving to visit them.
"Millennials recognize the limited value of paying so much for something they use so little," says Scott Griffith, chairman and CEO of Zipcar. "They want the freedom to drive, but reject the financial burden of car ownership."
Of course, Zipcar has a dog (or car) in this fight, since their business is renting cars by the hour. Still, given the way the car market is going these days, maybe they're onto something.
What you should do: Maybe someday, we'll all be doing what millennials are doing now -- sitting at home typing to our friends and family instead of driving to see them. In the meantime, while the car market is changing, it's still a buyer's market. Do what you can to drive a hard bargain.
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