Quick Tips for Pull-Ahead Offers

1. Read offers carefully so you understand all the terms, conditions and possible fees.
2. Be certain you actually want to lease again. If ownership is your goal, a pull-ahead offer won't help you.
3. Figure out how much time is remaining on your current lease.
4. Check out Edmunds' Incentives and Rebates page for any factory-backed lease specials that might set you up for a good deal.
5. Find out your lease payoff amount from your bank.
6. Compare the payoff amount to your car's value with the Edmunds appraisal tool.
7. Don't overbuy. If you have a budget, do your best to stick to it.

If you're currently leasing a car, you've probably gotten a fair number of ads or emails suggesting that you trade in your current car for a new one. If you haven't gotten one yet, don't worry. You will soon.

These pitches promise a new car for similar or lower lease payments. They may say that the dealership wants your car because it's low on used-car inventory and needs exactly what you have. It may not matter that you've hardly had your new leased car long enough to need a second oil change because the time to trade up is now, so the story goes.

These offers sound good, and the sheer number of attempts to reach you can add a sense of urgency. But is there anything to them? Are the offers too good to be true? The answer can depend on the type of advertisement you've received and who sent it.

Edmunds visitors save an average of $2879 off their new car. How much can you save?

Why You're Getting the Offer

In the car industry, these advertisements are part of what are known as "pull-ahead" programs. Their goal is to "pull" customers back into the buying cycle ahead of when they would normally start looking again, which would usually be at the tail end of a three-year lease.

Three years may seem like a relatively short time. But in the eyes of carmakers and dealerships, waiting three years for a customer to come back and do business again seems like a lifetime. So instead of waiting until your lease is over to seduce you with offers of a new car, these pull-ahead communications will start coming to you well before your lease matures. Ads might even hit your inbox before your lease is at the halfway point.

These programs aren't just about making a new deal, though. Some manufacturers use these programs to spread out the lease returns of certain models so that a large number of the same cars aren't hitting auction blocks at the same time. Too many of the same car showing up simultaneously at auction will eventually drive down that car's value.

Finally, the used-car department of your local dealership may really, truly want your used car, especially if there is a shortage of clean, late-model cars available.

So if you can be persuaded to turn in your car early, it can be a triple win for the dealership and carmaker.

With all this at stake, it becomes easier to understand why carmakers and car dealerships invest so much energy in getting you back in the dealership ahead of schedule.

Deals From Carmakers and Deals From Dealerships

There are two types of pull-ahead programs: those that come from the people who made your car and those that come from the people who sold it to you.

Advertisements from the carmaker will usually have well-defined benefits. Some will offer to waive your last few car payments if you get into a new car now. Other offers may forgive excess miles or waive disposition or damage charges on top of giving you a sweet deal on your next new car.

When you get a pull-ahead offer from a carmaker, you know what to expect.

Pull-ahead programs from dealerships are a little harder to decipher. Offers with phrases like "payments as low as" or "little or no money out of pocket" make it hard to determine what exactly they're offering other than the prospect of a good deal on a new car.

This isn't to say that dealership offers are all smoke and mirrors. Because of the behind-the-scenes work of predictive algorithms within dealerships, these offers generally only target people whose vehicles put them in a position to finish a lease early and get into a new car.

It's an imperfect science, though. The dealer can't guarantee that you'll be able to get out of your car for no money out of pocket and into another car for the same or lower payment. Hence the vague language. If you get one of these notifications, however, just know that a deal is possible.

Is This a Good Pull-Ahead Deal?

If you're intrigued by the offer you've received but don't want to take a trip to the dealership for nothing, here are a few tips to help you figure out ahead time if your chances are good, bad or nonexistent:

1. Read offers carefully so you understand all the terms, conditions and possible fees.

2. Be certain you actually want to lease again. A pull-ahead offer might look great now, but it won't put you closer to car ownership if that is your eventual goal.

3. Figure out how much time is remaining on your current lease. If you are in the last year, you are in the best position for a lease pull-ahead deal.

4. Check out Edmunds' Incentives and Rebates page to see if there are any factory-backed lease specials that might set you up for a good deal.

5. Find out your lease payoff amount from your bank. If you make your payments online, you'll likely be able to find your payoff by logging into your account. You can also get your payoff over the phone.

6. Compare your payoff amount to your car's value. You can check the value using Edmunds appraisal tool.

If you owe a lot less than your vehicle's appraised value, chances are good you'll be able get out of your car and into a new one with no money out of pocket. You might even be able to do that and lower your monthly payment.

If your payoff is about equal to the value of your car or you owe more than the car's value, you may still be able to get out of it and into a new car with no money out of pocket. Available incentives and rebates will be a big part of the equation.

7. Don't overbuy. It's easy to get wrapped up in the prospect of a new deal and end up spending more than you'd originally planned. If you have a budget, do your best to stick to it.

If you've done your due diligence and the deal pencils out, there's nothing wrong with leaving one lease early — especially if you're able to lower your payment, get some extra options you didn't have before, or both.

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