How to Lease a Pre-Owned Car

Once you find a dealer that offers leases for the pre-owned car you want, get prepared to negotiate the monthly payment.

Once you find a dealer that offers leases for the pre-owned car you want, get prepared to negotiate the monthly payment.

If you’re dreaming of driving a luxury or sports car without laying out a bunch of money up front, consider leasing a pre-owned car. Besides driving off in the car of your dreams, the modest monthly payments make leasing a used car an attractive proposition. To get the most benefit from the lease, look for pre-owned cars with a full warranty to keep repair costs to a minimum.

Determining Price

Before you jump into a lease, do a bit of homework. First, research the going rate for the vehicle you want to lease. Look for a used vehicle that will hold its price well since the dealer sets the monthly payments based on the potential retained value of the car at the end of the lease. That’s why SUVs and luxury and sports cars make such a good deal on a leasing plan. Search online and review classified ads for similar vehicles offered by private parties and automobile dealers to get a feel for the price. Next, start looking for a dealer who leases this type of pre-owned car. Look for a car with low mileage and all the options you want. Kelley Blue Book ( offers an online auto price guide that gives you an idea of what the vehicle should be worth. To get the most accurate value, you need to know everything about the vehicle, including its condition as well as the make, model, year, mileage and options.

Warranty and Repairs

Consumer Reports notes that 3-year-old cars have twice as many mechanical problems as a 1-year old car. This potential money pit makes a comprehensive warranty that covers mechanical failure during the lease period the best way to go. While some pre-owned cars are still under warranty, you may need to negotiate an extended warranty that covers the duration of your lease. Find out what the deductible is for any damages. Since older cars require more regularly scheduled maintenance, ask the dealer about maintenance package deals he offers to keep these routine expenses to a minimum.

Assuming a Lease

If you prefer to save the upfront fees or down payment of leasing a car from a dealer, look for a private party that wants to get out of her lease early. Before signing a contract with a private party, get the low-down on any existing damage or excessive wear and tear on the car. Take a look at the mileage limits to make sure you can handle any over-the-limit charges.

Before You Sign

Once you’ve found the ideal car, check the vehicle’s history before signing on the dotted line. Vehicle history reports are available from online websites for a fee. If you still are interested in leasing the vehicle after you determine the car’s history, take the car to a certified mechanic to confirm its mechanical condition. If the mechanic gives you a good report, put your negotiating skills to work so you get bragging rights about how little you’re paying per month for such a sublime vehicle.


About the Author

Nancy Wagner is a marketing strategist and speaker who started writing in 1998. She writes business plans for startups and established companies and teaches marketing and promotional tactics at local workshops. Wagner's business and marketing articles have appeared in "Home Business Journal," "Nation’s Business," "Emerging Business" and "The Mortgage Press," among others. She holds a B.S. from Eastern Illinois University.

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