How to end a car lease agreement early

Updated March 23, 2017

Many people choose to lease a car rather than buy one outright because of several advantages, including a lower monthly car payment, lower upfront costs and the ability to return the car at the end of the lease contract. However, if you are unsatisfied with the car or are no longer able to afford the payments, you may want to terminate the car lease agreement. Although it is possible to end a car lease early, there are usually termination fees and penalties that you will be responsible for.

Read your car lease agreement thoroughly. Review the options available for returning your car early. Any termination fees or penalties will be clearly stated, as well as the circumstances under which the lease can be terminated. In addition to an early termination fee, you may also have to pay off the remaining lease amount.

Contact the dealer informing them of your intention to end the car lease early. Call or write the car dealership and let them know you intend to return the car. They will set up a date with you to return the car.

Detail the car and fix any structural or mechanical problems. Take the car to be detailed and have any dents, scratches or mechanical problems repaired before you return the car. It will cost you significantly if the car is returned in an unsatisfactory condition because the dealership will further depreciate the car according to the damages.

Take the car back to the dealer with all of the original paperwork and accessories. Pay any early termination fees, penalties and miscellaneous charges. Once the payments are made, the lease will be officially terminated.

Alternatively, you have the option to transfer the lease to another person. Advertise in the classifieds (both online and in newspapers) that you would like to transfer the lease on your car. The potential buyer must be approved by the lease company and sign a new contract before taking over the lease of your car. If approved, both you and the buyer must sign transfer papers. An advantage of this option is that you do not have to pay a termination fee or penalties, only a transfer fee.

Things You'll Need

  • Lease agreement
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About the Author

An avid technology enthusiast, Steve Gregory has been writing professionally since 2002. With more than 10 years of experience as a network administrator, Gregory holds an Information Management certificate from the University of Maryland and is pursuing MCSE certification. His work has appeared in numerous online publications, including Chron and GlobalPost.