Whether or not you can return a leased car to any dealer depends on a number of factors. Your specific leasing situation determines if the answer is yes or no. Let's look at some common lease-end situations and where you can take the vehicle to terminate your lease.

Returning Your Car at Lease End

Can You Return a Leased Car to Any Dealer?When your lease is coming to an end, your leasing company typically contacts you around 90 days before the termination date. At this point, you should already be thinking about what you're planning to do.

Normally, lease end presents you with a few options:

  • Turn in your leased car and walk away.
  • Turn in your leased vehicle and lease again.
  • Buyout your lease and keep the car.

In order to return a leased vehicle to a dealership that your lease didn't originate from, the dealer has to have an agreement with your lessor. In most cases, this is a captive lender, but it could be a bank or independent leasing company. In these cases, you're still going to be responsible for any required fees that are associated with the end of your lease.

If you have a lease from a captive lender – a manufacturer-specific financial company such as Ford Motor Credit or Honda Financial Services – you can return your leased car to any franchised dealership of that brand.

When your lessor isn't a captive, the letter you receive before lease end should explain where you need to take your vehicle to have it inspected and where you can turn it in.

Terminating Your Lease Early by Trading in Your Leased Car

Getting out of your lease early by trading in your car can be done at any dealer, but it doesn't always make sense. Because you can't just turn in a leased vehicle in the middle of your lease term and walk away, it can be complicated and costly to end your lease early, even more so if you don't do it right.

To check if a lease trade-in is the right thing for your situation, you first need to know how much the car you're leasing is currently worth, and what your buyout amount is. Don't forget to include the cost of early lease termination and any additional fees when you're calculating this.

One of the only times to consider an early lease trade in from another dealership is if there's equity in your leased vehicle. This doesn't typically happen, but in some cases, the residual value of the leased car is more than what you owe on the lease. If this happens, you can profit by trading in your leased vehicle.

The lessor estimates what the value of your car is – called the residual value – at the beginning of the lease. In most cases, the estimate is close enough that you’re always going to be upside down.

However, in some cases, the lessor could underestimate the residual value of the vehicle, which means you have built some equity. That, or you chose to make a large down payment (a capitalized cost reduction, in lease terms), which results in your early lease payoff amount being less than the value of the car.

No matter how it happens, if there's equity in your leased vehicle, it could be worth it to trade it in and use the equity to help you purchase or lease another car. To do this, the new dealer would pay off your lease and buy the vehicle for their own lot. The equity is then subtracted from the price of the new car.

Looking for Somewhere to Trade In?

If your leased vehicle is something you're looking to trade in, but your credit situation isn't what it used to be, chances are you need to find a dealership that works with subprime lenders. This way, you can trade-in the car and finance another one. If you don't know where to start, let us help.

Auto Credit Express works with a nationwide network of special finance dealers that have the lending capabilities to help people with bad credit get the auto loans they need. To get matched with a local dealership, simply fill out our easy and free car loan request form today!