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Negotiating Terms and Comparing Lease Offers


When shopping for a lease, you can negotiate some terms and conditions--for example, the length of the lease and the mileage allowance. Other terms and conditions--for example, the residual value and the rent charge--may not be negotiable, but you can compare them from lease to lease to find the lease that best meets your needs, your budget, and your driving habits.

The vehicles you are considering may differ in some way (for example, the accessories may differ). Also, the leasing terms and conditions may differ. Be sure to take these differences into account when comparing lease offers.

Some items in a lease are truly not negotiable, for example, those items preprinted on the form. But by shopping around and comparing the terms offered by different lessors, you may be able to save money on these nonnegotiable items.

Before you sign

Leasing is a complicated financial transaction, so it pays to learn about your rights and responsibilities when leasing a vehicle. Contrary to what some people believe, there generally is no 3-day right of rescission under federal law when either buying or leasing a vehicle. A dealership may have its own policy for vehicle returns within 3 days, but be sure you see these policies in writing before signing any agreements.

Before signing your lease agreement, be sure to review your lease documents to make certain the terms and conditions you have negotiated have been entered in the blanks:

  • If you negotiated the value of the vehicle, make sure this negotiated amount appears in the "agreed-upon value of the vehicle" line on the lease form.
  • If you have a trade-in, make sure the negotiated net value appears on the "net trade-in allowance" line on the lease form.
  • If you make a cash payment for the "amount due at lease signing or delivery" for the first payment, security deposit, and (or) capitalized cost reduction (like a down payment), make sure this amount appears on the "amount to be paid in cash" line on the lease form.
  • If a rebate or discount is included in the deal (and if you haven't received it in cash or it wasn't used to pay a prior credit or lease balance), make sure this amount has been credited in the "amount due at lease signing or delivery" on the lease form.

Next: What's negotiable?

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Last update: May 5, 2003