Negotiating a Vehicle Lease
Car lease negotiations involve more than just the price of the car and the monthly payments. Before you go in to the dealership, you should know what and how to negotiate so you end up with the car you want at a price you can afford.
Find a Fair Final Price
Just like buying a car, the final price of the vehicle is very important, and entirely negotiable.
Also called the “capitalized cost," if you can lower this dollar amount, you'll lower your monthly payments. Visit Kelley Blue Book or Edmunds before you start negotiations to determine a fair price for your vehicle.
Negotiate the Residual Value
The residual value is the dealership's estimate of the depreciation of your car during the time you will be driving it. It's used to determine part of your monthly payment.
The key word here is “estimate." If you wish to reduce your monthly payment, you can negotiate with the dealership to increase the residual value. You can do some research ahead of time by using a residual value calculator on a site like Cars.com.
Depending on your situation, increasing the residual value may or may not be ideal. For details, please refer to our Vehicle Residual Value page.
Reduce Your Drive-Off Fees
Almost all car lease agreements include “acquisition and disposition" fees, and these are not negotiable. But others, like a security deposit, can be lowered or even waived in final lease negotiations. It doesn't hurt to ask to have these fees removed or lowered if possible.
Offer a Down Payment
Unlike buying a car, lease deals do not always require a down payment. But if you're looking to lower your monthly lease payments, offering a down payment during your car lease negotiations can help.
NOTE: Consider keeping your offer amount in your back pocket until AFTER you've negotiated the final price and drive-off fees for your car lease. This will prevent your down payment from being factored into your final price in any way.
Increase Your Annual Mileage
Car dealers want their lease deals to include the lowest possible mileage, for two reasons. Lower mileage at the end of your lease will increase the potential resale value of your vehicle. In addition, the lower the negotiated lease mileage, the higher their opportunity to charge you fees for going over at the end of your lease.
Similar to negotiating the vehicle's residual value, you can also negotiate the amount of allowed miles on your lease. Again, this may or may not be a better deal for you depending on your personal driving habits and commuting circumstances.
You can find more information on our Leasing Mileage guide.
Determine Lease Length
One option dealerships may offer in lease negotiations is to give you lower payments by extending the length of your lease. This may be helpful for you—or it may simply cause you to pay far more over the life of the lease due to continued interest accrual.
Ideally, you'd want your lease contract to stay within the length of the manufacturer's warranty, to ensure that you're always covered in the event of repairs or an incident. Visit our page on Lease Contracts for more.
Remember, during your car lease negotiation, you are working to get the best deal, one that gets you in the driver's seat of the car you want, for a monthly payment that you can afford. If all else fails, you can always walk away and try another dealership at another time.