How To Do a Used Car Lease, Step by Step
Pick a brand that does used car leases: According to Edmunds data, these automakers' captives financed used car lease deals in 2015: Acura, Audi, BMW, Chrysler (which includes financing for vehicles from Dodge, Fiat, Jeep, Ram and SRT), Ferrari, Honda, Hyundai, Infiniti, Kia, Lexus, Lincoln, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Mini, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Porsche, Toyota, Volkswagen and Volvo.
The exceptions are Ford Credit and GM Financial, which finances vehicles from Buick, Chevrolet, Cadillac and GMC, according to spokespeople from those captive finance companies.
Have a point of comparison: To effectively judge if a used car lease is a good enough value to bypass a new car lease, you have to have something to compare it to. If you don't already have a lease quote for a new version of the car you want, get one. With that benchmark in hand, you can start shopping.
Find the car: Edmunds.com 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 CPO 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 cars from different dealers. That way, if the first dealership you talk to isn't able to help with a used car lease, you'll have other choices.
Find a dealer who'll do the deal: Since used car leasing is not the norm in the car business, finding a dealership that can help you will likely take some time and patience. You may have to call a few dealerships to find one that is set up to lease used cars.
Reach out to a dealership that has a vehicle you like and speak with an Internet manager or sales manager. Tell the manager you've found a CPO car in the dealership's inventory and you'd like to know if the dealership is set up to lease used cars. If you get a quick, automatic "No," don't be afraid to ask the manager to check with a higher-up at the dealership to confirm. Since used car leasing is 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 the dealership is unresponsive, move to the next on your list.
Get a price quote: Once you find a dealership that is set up to offer used car leases, ask for a price quote. All the standard car-shopping rules apply: Negotiate a fair sale price (using Edmunds' TMV® calculator, which will show you a CPO value), get the residual value (in the event you'd like to buy the vehicle at the end of the lease) and determine the total down payment and total monthly payment, including taxes and fees.
Compare again: Check the used car lease against the new car lease. If the savings are good, it might be time to set up a test-drive, and maybe even make your deal.