In my view, if you can afford it, always buy. And let us be clear about this, because there have been several questions over the past years about leases versus purchases. In this context, I am talking about purchasing or leasing a space, not the business. Leasing a business is impractical. Purchasing a business and leasing or buying the property is a different issue. My comments here are devoted to the process of leasing or buying a garage for the purpose of conducting the business of automotive repair.
So, let us say that you purchase a garage for $250,000. You can get an SBA loan with 10% or so down, giving you a loan payment of less than $1500 per month. If you have a landlord renting you that same space, he/she is probably going to charge you that same $1500 per month, plus whatever percentage he/she feels he can get in the way of profit. And in most cases, in that kind of a business, you end up doing a large amount of improvements and up keep on property that you do not even own. You also are then not faced with increased rent every year - customary in almost any lease you see - which obviously allows you to keep a lid on at least some of your expenses, over time. At the same time, in most cases throughout history, commercial property rises in value, frequently at rates higher than residential property. That means you will be able to realize a gain in the value of your property in two ways, over time. The first way is just in the way property values rise over time, as stated above. The other is that, with each payment you make to the bank, a portion of what you are paying is applied to the equity in the property. That money simply comes back to you, when you sell.
The negative really has nothing to do with whether it is better to buy or lease, but how much such a property will cost and whether you have the money to make that kind of a purchase, to begin with. I used the example of a $250,000 garage, but that was admittedly just an example. Most two to three-bay repair shops in my own market will cost upwards of $650,000. You would then need a bare minimum of $65,000 for your down payment, plus whatever you need to start the business. The biggest reason businesses fail in the US, is a lack of capital. If you start your business with too little cash on hand, you were almost certainly doomed to failure.
Finally, a most fundamental question is whether you are a mechanic, yourself? If you are not, I would strongly suggest that you do not get involved in an automotive repair business, without thinking it through with extraordinary care. In starting out, if you have one or two repair bays, you will end up with one or two mechanics. If one mechanic goes on vacation, are you prepared to fill in and turn a wrench, yourself? If not, while that mechanic is on vacation, your business volume drops by 50%. What happens if that mechanic is sick? What happens if he/she dies? What happens if he/she takes a job at another garage, maybe even convincing the other mechanic to go with him/her? Mechanics can and will leave her garage at a moments notice, and he can take you weeks or even months to find a good replacement. It is not all doom and gloom, but it takes an extraordinary amount of thinking and planning, in order to avoid the pitfalls.