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Fees to Be Aware of At the End of Your Car Lease

Education | 08/29/2021 22:00

It can be easy to get caught up in the car leasing gimmicks that are floating around all media and advertising spaces today. Many of these ads will claim that a lease is only $58 per week or $139 bi-weekly. These companies will state that it is easier to get into a new vehicle through a lease than it is by outright buying the vehicle.

It may sound wise in nature, yet this is not always the case, and we want to talk about it in this article. In reality, leases are often much more expensive than they advertise and end up costing more than just financing the car in the end. How does this happen? Through the fine print, hidden fees, and extra costs that come with breaking leases or engaging in something that is not included in the confusing contract you sign when you agree to a lease.

In order to protect yourself from unknown fees before you sign that dotted line, we’re going to look at some of the hidden penalties you should review in a car lease.

Fees at the End of a Car Lease

Hidden Interest and Taxes: Interest and taxes are surely applied to your car lease, even if it’s something they leave out of that ‘$58 per week’ marketing ad. When these two elements are factored into the equation, it’s more like $80 per week, and that’s just with the terms provided when financing a car. This can vary based on state, county, and dealership, which is why you should always factor in a lofty sum of money to cover interest rates and taxes.

Can I negotiate these lease charges? 

Although you may be able to negotiate other elements of the lease, you will most likely be unable to negotiate the interest rate, much less the taxes. Be sure to check if there are any tax breaks available in your state for a car lease (note: they are usually not enough to compensate for the high-interest rates that are charged by dealerships today).

Administrative Fees (Twice): Dealerships will apply two different administrative fees to your lease as a part of doing business with them. The first fee will come when you initially lease the car. The second fee will come when you return the car after the lease is completed. These fees can be as much as $750 each time, justified as a way to compensate the administrative staff that will have to process the paperwork for the termination of the lease.

In most cases, the average consumer is not surprised to see that fee the first time they take the car off of the lot. But, when they see the fee again after they return the car, they are shocked to learn that an extra $1,500 in total was omitted from that monthly payment number when they first inquired about the car lease.

Termination Fees: Yes, you will be penalized if you decide to terminate a car lease before the agreed-upon date. You are probably thinking to yourself: but why? Isn’t the dealership receiving the car back in a better condition than if I had kept driving it? 

Whether you are moving, downsizing, or lost your job, any of these reasons will make it necessary for you to terminate the car lease. And, you have that right to do so, but you will be hit with a termination fee. 

The fee amount will vary based on the information in the lease you signed. Many people will find they end up paying the full amount of the lease via the termination fee, even if they turn the car in a year early. Be sure to ask the lessee to disclose what this fee is to you if you predict yourself needing to terminate the lease prematurely.

Mileage Variations: A general car lease will enable people to drive 12,000 to 15,000 miles per year, give or take. If you go over this mileage count, you will have to pay for it – at 10 to 20 cents per mile. If you do the math, that means you would owe $1,800 on an extra 3,000 miles you drove over the preset amount. Extra mileage is one of the biggest ways a dealership makes a profit off of this lease – they can almost count on you breaking the agreement. If you predict yourself needing to drive a fair amount in the coming years, this is a major reason why a car lease may not make sense for you.

Mileage Punishment – Auction Fees: Not only are you going to be slammed with fees per mile that you go over the agreement, but the dealer also reserves the right to tell you that you have to sell the car returned at auction. This means you are responsible to cover the difference between what the car sells for at the auction, and the initial value of the car that was configured based on the pre-defined mileage count. So, let’s say the dealer figured the car would be worth $13,000 after you returned it within the mileage count. If you go over that mileage count and the dealer determines the car is now worth $10,000 at auction, you are required to cover the $3,000 difference that they ‘lost’ as a result of your negligence. 

As you can see, this gives the dealer way too much wiggle room when it comes to the interpretation of the car’s worth. This is something you will want to hash out with the dealer before signing any paperwork. 

The Down Payment Omission: And finally, back to that $58 example above: this is a payment amount that is described after the down payment has already been put down on the lease. If you put a $5,000 down payment on the lease, your bi-weekly payment may only be $100 or $200 because you already paid handsomely to drive the vehicle. The moral of the story: that ad-based monetary amount is false.

Need help refinancing your vehicle? We recommend you talk with our team first before signing any leasing paperwork. Auto Approve is here to help.


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*APR and Fees Disclosure: Auto Approve works to find you the best Annual Percentage Rate (APR), which is based on factors like your credit history, vehicle and desired payment terms. Fees to complete your loan refinance vary by state and lender; they generally include admin fees, doc fees, DMV and title. Advertised 6.24% APR based on: 2019 model year or newer vehicle, 730 minimum FICO credit score, and loan term up to 72 months. All loans subject to credit and lender approval.
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