How to End Your Car Lease Early (Explained by a Car Dealer)

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Last updated Apr 20, 2023
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One thing you learn as you get older is that there’s no such things as an “easy way out.” Although, when it comes to ending your car lease early you may have a few options. Depending on your circumstances, there are a few creative ways you can end your car lease early without hurting your bank account.

Car dealers, and their manufacturers are always looking for two things;

  1. Ways to make more money; and
  2. Ways to sell more cars.

If your lease isn’t due for another few months, but you really want to get into a new car, the odds are that a dealer is going to put their best foot forward to help you make that a reality. Why? Because they’ll make money selling the new lease, and they’ll sell another car. Both of those things benefit the dealer.

Although, this positive attitude needs to be taken with a grain of salt. Your current lease agreement is a legally binding document. It says you will make a certain amount of payments over a certain term, and that if you don’t, there will be specific consequences.

Buying a car (and getting a good deal) is all about leverage. If your lease isn’t due for 3 months, and you have a legally binding contract that says you’ll make the remaining payments, you don’t have too much leverage. Don’t fret though, because remember, the dealer and the manufacturer do want to help you get into a new car, but they also don’t want to give up the money they could be making if you completed the full term of your lease.

With all this being said, there are some creative ways you can approach this situation. Let’s get into the weeds of how you can end your car lease early.

Will they “forgive” my payments?

The short answer is “no.” The long answer is “probably.” Why do I say that? Because a lot of factors are in play.

First, how many monthly payments do you have left on your current lease? One, two, twelve? If you have less than three, the odds are high that the dealer and the leasing company will work with you to forgive your remaining lease obligations in exchange for getting into a new car (although there are caveats to this that we’ll cover below). On the other end of the spectrum, if you have six, eight, or twelve payments left on your lease, there is less likelihood that the dealer or the leasing company will have any interest in helping you out. Why would they? You’ve got a whole year’s worth of payments to continue making, and with each check you write, they make money.

Take a look at your original lease agreement and locate the termination date of the lease (the date you would return the car if you completed the lease). You can typically also find this information in your online payment portal, if you have access to that. This date is the most important thing for you to keep in mind, and it’s the date that the dealership and the leasing company will be referring to when they consider how “friendly” they’ll be in forgiving your remaining lease payments.

When will they “forgive” payments? (Lease pull ahead programs)

To end your car lease early without penalty, you’ll want to research lease pull ahead programs. Car lease pull ahead programs are specific incentive programs that leasing companies create to entice prospective customers to lease a new vehicle.

Leasing companies generally do not provide this information in a publicly available way. Instead, each month the captive finance company (BMW Financial Services, for example) will send it’s dealerships (BMW dealerships) a list of new and ongoing incentive programs for customers.

These lists are humongous, complex, and not particularly easy to understand. Within these monthly guidelines dealers may find pull ahead programs (among other things) that are intended to incentivize customers to buy new cars. Keep in mind that incentive programs are different for each region within the United States. Two dealerships may have two very different incentive programs in any given month. This is partly why you don’t see lease pull ahead programs advertised nationwide.

You can try and find this information online, although your best bet is to call your local dealership, or the leasing company itself.

End of Lease Options Chrysler Capital
Here’s an example of lease end options from Chrysler Capital. At 90 days out from lease end they’ll start to help you if you want to lease a new car with them again.

If you want to research online for lease offers, my recommendation would be to search for a specific manufacturer, for example “Chrysler lease offers” and go directly to the manufacturer website (like the example above).

Or, another option that is worth your time is a website called LeaseHackr, where individuals share lease deals they are aware of. Be warned that the offers you see on this website may not be available in your specific area.

It’s important to understand that dealers and leasing companies typically have more incentives in place if you lease the same vehicle, or with the same manufacturer again. Generally speaking, there are fewer programs if you end your lease early with Audi and then get a BMW, other than a conquest program to encourage a current Audi owner to move to a BMW, for example. That isn’t to say that programs don’t exist (they do), it simply means that incentives and offers are greater when you stay with the same brand from one lease to the next, especially when you want to end your current car lease early.

When does it make sense to end your car lease early?

To this point we’ve talked about how you can end your lease early, but we haven’t spent any time discussing when it makes sense to actually do so. If you’re reading this near the time of its publication (April of 2020), then you know we are in the midst of the global coronavirus pandemic. It may be surprising to read this, but now (this month) is a good time to end your car lease early and get into a new car.

There are two reasons why.

  1. First and foremost is that leasing companies are offering very aggressive incentives to sell new cars right now. With that in mind, you should be able to negotiate a good deal.
  2. Residual values are most likely going to decrease starting next month (May). The residual value of all cars is most likely going to decline as there is an economic downturn and less demand for vehicles. With that in mind, if you leased a car this month (April) your lease payment will most likely be substantially less than if you lease the same car next month. (May).

At the end of the day, if you’re looking to end your car lease early you need to recognize that you have a legal obligation to fulfill the contract you signed. With that being said, you know that dealers and leasing companies want to lease you a new car, and you can use that to your advantage to ask for incentives and programs to help offset the remaining payments you have on your current lease.


  1. Pat Acabodillo

    Hi Ray, I’ve been a follower of your YouTube channel since you started with those short videos (about 7min). In fact I watch your new videos daily. I just have to seek an advice on my car lease if you can.
    To give you a background, me & my wife leased a ’19 Honda CRV with Honda Financial and we are halfway of the term. But with this recent Pandemic crisis, our work hours are shortened hereby affecting our take home pay. We can still pay for the CRV monthly but a bit tight. I talked to our Honda dealer what my options are. What they offered was to put me in another lease but lower monthly by about $100 plus and in a Honda Pilot to be specific. They said because of the rebates & promos on the Pilot right now, it will help our situation. Same lease as before 36 mos/36k miles. Just wanna know your thoughts on this. I asked them why not put me in a cheaper car, they said there is more money on the Pilot right now. The $100 plus difference will be a big help in our expenses right now. Thanks in advance sir and more power.

  2. Michael Astuto

    One suggestion I would give, and I actually have done this, is about 6 months before lease is up I go to CarMax and other dealerships and get the value of my car vs total buy back owed. I did this with my Mazda CX-5 2018 Lease. CarMax bought me out and I made $1k!!! I now have a Toyota Tacoma and will definetly being doing the same!!!

  3. Shawna Brown

    Hi. I’m a fan of your honesty and humor on You Tube.
    I have a 2019 Toyota Corolla lease ending 10/04/21.
    I have a step son with a $15k budget from his father for a Toyota Corolla.
    My questions:
    (1) would it be better for me to end my lease Oct 4 and negotiate with Toyota for a 2021 financed Prius
    (2) end my lease Oct 4, purchase my leased car then sell my car to the father and then later negotiate a financed Prius with Toyota the end of December?

  4. Joe Caprino

    Do you have any videos/info on getting the best deal on a lease? I’ve looked on your website and your YouTube videos, but didn’t see any.

  5. Jason

    Hi Ray and Zach.. I love your channel.
    I am currently leasing a 2018 Audi SQ5 Prestige (loaded) in perfect condition with 17.7k miles on it.. I have 6 more payments (at 1K per mo). I am trading the car to Tesla for a Model Y which is on backorder.

    Audi is showing a customer payoff amount of 46K. Tesla is offering to buy my car for 45K. In 3 days I have my next car payment so my math shows me at even money.

    HOWEVER, and this is where I am asking for some guidance… Audi has a “dealer payoff” amount of 50K for Tesla to buy the car now placing me in a negative equity situation. I called Audi and they said the payoff to me would indeed be my residual + payments. (46K) but to any other dealer (outside the VW Group) it would be at “fair market value” at 50K. (Which Tesla shared with me (Audi refused))

    I subscribed for 1 month to run a Blackbook report and I am not sure how they are calculating” Fair market value”. Seems like Audi is selling close to a private party or retail prices, and it would then appear that I am getting lowballed by Tesla..

    Am I thinking about this correctly..?
    Also, how is the consumer supposed to know what the secret payoff amount (that Audi refused to disclose) is? This seems like a total scam by Audi.

    How is this possible?
    Have you heard of this before and what is the best way to handle this?

    Keep up the good fight..


  6. I. Barsky

    I want to pay off my lease of a Lexus nx300 early and keep the car. It seems to me that the beside the pay off amount there are other costs like
    accsessories $500.00, Dealer fee$ 799.00, License /title fee $450.00, Tire/battery VTR fee 8.50 ,Elec. filling fee $130.00, and Sales tax 1,606.42.
    They say that they will take off the Accessories fee, but what about the other fees. Did they take out sales tax from every payment? I live and leased in Florida. What other fees can be eliminated?


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