How to End Your Car Lease Early

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Whatever the reason may be, such as changes in your life circumstances, wanting to purchase a new vehicle, or having to move overseas, you may decide that you want to end your lease before the end date. However, many of you may be a bit fearful that you will suffer harsh financial penalties for doing so, yet that is not always the case. It helps to be aware of the options that you have available and to then chose the one that's best for you.

Your Options:

Bring It Back to the Dealership

This is the most common way to end a lease early. It is also the option that brings with it the highest financial penalty. By returning the vehicle back to the dealership from which you originally obtained the lease, you will have to pay all of the financial penalties that were outlined in the original lease agreement.

Depending on the particular lease agreement, you may even have to pay extra penalties and pay off any payments that are outstanding.

For these very reasons, this is not the first option that you should consider if you elect to terminate your car lease early.

Chose to Purchase the Vehicle

Regardless of the lease that you have, you can always buyout the lease. You will have to talk to the leasing company, but you will be able to purchase the vehicle from them completely, regardless of which stage the lease is in most cases.

You should consider the resale value of the vehicle, as you will often have to pay an amount that is at least at market value. This can result in you having to ultimately pay more to purchase the vehicle than it is actually worth.

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Trade It In

Depending on the dealership, you may actually be able to lease or purchase another vehicle if you trade in your current one. However, if you chose to lease a new vehicle by trading your current one in, any of the penalties and fees of the original lease will cause your new payments to be higher.

The one benefit of this option is that, while it is still ultimately expensive, you will be able to pay off the penalties of ending the lease early over a longer period of time.

Have Another Person Acquire It

If another person agrees to take over the lease from you, this is another option to consider. It can be a family member, a friend, or a complete stranger. Many companies act as a middleman in terms of finding someone to take over your lease from you.

To do it officially, the leasing company will often require a credit check plus transfer fees. If the person is located out-of-state, there may be some regulations to consider.

If you do choose this option, find out if you will be held liable if the person you transfer it to defaults on the lease.

Sell It

You should first ask the leasing company what the payoff amount will be. Afterwards, you can consider selling your vehicle to someone else and then paying the leasing company. Even if some of the money to the leasing company still has to come out of your own pocket, it may be cheaper than paying off the lease for the rest of its duration. This is also an option to consider if you want to avoid going over the allocated lease mileage or having damaged the vehicle in any way, shape, or form.

Word of Advice - Prepare It

No matter the option that you chose, make sure that your vehicle is properly prepared. This means washing and detailing it and checking the tire levels. You want to present your vehicle in the best possible light, as that will help minimize any penalties that you may be charged with and/or allow you to get the most value for it back as possible if you decide to sell the lease to someone or the vehicle itself.

You should also take pictures of it for your own documentation and for insurance purposes.

Ending your lease early is not impossible. Just make sure to explore all of your options before proceeding! Good luck.

Joe Webster
Written By:Joe Webster
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Joe Webster began his journey in the auto transport field by attending the University of Southern California (USC), where he graduated with a Bachelor of Business Marketing. 

After college, he started his career in the auto transport industry from the bottom up and has done virtually every job there is to do at A-1 Auto Transport, including but not limited to: Truck Driver, Dispatch, Sales, PR, Bookkeeping, Transport Planner, Transport Manager, International Transport Manager, Brokering, Customer Service, and Marketing. Working with his mentor Tony Taylor, Joe Webster has learned the ins and outs of this industry which is largely misunderstood. 

With over 30 years experience in the industry, we've been helping people ship their vehicles, motorcycles, RV's, heavy equipment, household goods and more across the country or overseas without a hitch. Ask us anything.

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