The resurging economy helped car leasing activity on Long Island during 2006, and so did the repeal of a New York liability law, according to a new survey.

GrooveCar Inc., an indirect lender of auto loans, canvassed 40% of its franchised auto dealers in the New York region on 2006 leasing business.

Of Long Island dealers, 44% reported an increase in leasing business of 15-20%, in line with the national average.

All dealers surveyed listed the captive/manufacturers' lease program as their primary lease source. As their secondary lease sources, Hann Financial Service Corp., Chase Auto Finance and Wells Fargo Financial Acceptance were named, in that order.

The respondents reported that leasing makes up 51% of their total business, compared with only 18%-20% nationwide, according to Edmunds.com.

Several dealers say that the increase in their lease percentage was due to getting a law off New York State's books.

For a period prior to 2006, New York dealers used balloon loans instead of leases because of New York's vicarious liability law. It held lessors responsible for lessees' actions behind the wheel of a vehicle. The law was overturned in 2005.

“These findings made us realize that leasing is an important commodity in the metro New York market,” says Frank Rinaudo, a GrooveCar vice president.