What to Do When Your Vehicle Lease Ends

My car lease is almost up, now what?

This is a common question when nearing the end of an auto lease. In most cases, you have three options:

1. Walk away from the lease.

Walking away from a lease may cost you in disposition or termination fees, mileage charges, and additional costs for wear and tear.

2. Trade the vehicle in.

Most times, you don’t have to trade the vehicle in to the dealership that leased you the vehicle. This may help you avoid those end-of-lease fees that may be associated with walking away from the lease.

3. Purchase the vehicle.

This will also help you sidestep the disposition and other end-of-lease fees. You’ll have the first option to purchase the vehicle. If you don’t purchase it, the dealership gets the next opportunity and the leasing company after that.

First Steps as You Near the End of Your Lease

Before you make a decision, look up the residual value and true value of your vehicle. The residual value is the amount you can purchase the vehicle for at the end of your lease. This number is essentially set in stone.

The next number is the true value. This is what a dealership would intend to pay for your currently leased vehicle. You can choose to research this number through online websites like Kelly Blue Book or NADA, however these platforms will only provide estimates. The official true value can only be found by inquiring what a dealership would pay for your vehicle today.

Should I Buy?

The steps above will indicate two things: What you would have to pay to purchase your vehicle, and what equity your vehicle still has. Once you know these numbers, you can consider whether purchasing the car is right for you.

Purchasing your leased vehicle is a good idea if:

  • Your car has excessive wear and tear. This means when you go to trade in the vehicle or walk away from the lease, you’ll be charged additional fees for fixing any damages. If you purchase the vehicle, you can choose to pay to fix those items when it’s convenient for you and your budget.
  • You’re way over—or under, on mileage. If you’re way over, you’ll owe a hefty charge for trading your car in. If you’re under your allotted miles, you’ll likely have equity in your vehicle’s value versus what you would purchase it for.
  • You love your car! Yes, sometimes the numbers don’t have to match perfectly. You may be exactly at your mileage allotment, and you still want to keep the car you’ve had for the past few years. This might be a great option too, and we’re happy to help you do so (and potentially save some money on monthly car payments) with our Lease Buyout Program.*

Need help deciding which option is best for you? Our Loan Department is happy to talk through your decision with you, and help you get the best possible deal. Get started by calling 732.312.1500, Option 4 or apply for our lease buyout loan online or fill out our quick online inquiry form and a representative will contact you.

For more information, check out our previous blog post: Reasons Buying Out Your Lease Makes Good Financial Sense

*APR = Annual Percentage Rate. Not all applicants will qualify, subject to credit approval. Additional terms & conditions may apply. Actual rate may vary based on credit worthiness and term. A First Financial membership is required to obtain a First Financial auto loan and is available to anyone who lives, works, worships, volunteers or attends school in Monmouth or Ocean Counties. See credit union for details. A $5 deposit in a base savings account is required for credit union membership prior to opening any other account/loan. Federally insured by NCUA.


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