How to Do It, Step by Step
Call the lender: If you've got your eye on a vehicle from a particular carmaker, try placing a call to the captive lender of that brand and asking if it offers leases on used certified pre-owned vehicles. You should be able to find the customer service number by searching the brand's name followed by "finance phone number." For example, a shopper hoping to lease a used Toyota Camry would call Toyota Financial.
Have a point of comparison: To effectively judge if a used-car lease is a good value, you have to have something to compare it to. If you don't already have a lease quote for a new version of the auto you want, get one. With that benchmark in hand, you can start shopping for a used-car lease.
Find the car: Edmunds has plenty of tools to help you find the right used car. Search for the model you're most interested in and remember to home in on certified pre-owned vehicles. Because you are shopping in the used market, you may not readily find your preferred color combination or mix of features. Be flexible. Select a few from different dealers. That way, if the first one isn't able to help, you'll have other choices.
Find a dealer who'll do the deal: Since used-vehicle leasing is not the norm, finding a dealership that can help you will likely take some time and patience. You may have to call a few to find one that can do these lease deals.
When you find a vehicle you like, call and speak with an internet manager or sales manager. Say that you've found a certified pre-owned car in inventory and you'd like to know if you can lease it. If you get a quick "No," don't be afraid to ask the manager to check with a higher-up to confirm. Since used leases are still relatively rare, the person you talk to may not know that it's an option. Don't be surprised if the manager says that he'll need to call you back.
If you don't get anywhere, move to the next option on your list.
Get a price quote: Once you find a dealership that is set up to offer used-vehicle leases, ask for a price quote. All the standard shopping rules apply: Negotiate a fair purchase price using the Edmunds appraisal calculator, which will show you a dealer's retail CPO value. Get the residual value in the event you'd like to buy the vehicle at the end of the lease. Finally, determine the total down payment and total monthly payment, including taxes and fees.
Compare again: Check the used-car lease's price against the new one. If the savings are good, it might be time to set up a test drive and maybe even make your deal.