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I’m Way Over My Lease Miles, What Do I Do?

Good news, Oversteerlings! The time has come for another excellent round of Ask Doug, which is this weekly thing where you write in with decent automotive questions, and I ignore them all and answer something different because it praises me in the opening sentence.

If you’d like to participate in Ask Doug, you can! Just e-mail me at, and I will happily read your automotive query, and possibly forward it to my friends so we can gawk at your hilarity.

Anyway, with that in mind, on to today’s question:

Hey Doug,

I recently leased a 2017 Mercedes-Benz C300 for 4 years/40,000 miles. However, I already have 20k miles on it so far, and it’s yet to be one year since I got it. Since I travel a lot to and from Los Angeles to San Diego, I wanted to ask you: what are my options? The mileage is high, and will likely pass my lease allowance by end of this year or so.


For those of you who don’t want to read Ron’s remark, largely because he starts by announcing this question will pertain to a leased C-Class, allow me to sum it up for you: Ron got a 4-year lease with a 10,000-mile annual limit, and he’s already done 20,000 miles in a year. This, of course, is a problem.

Fortunately, Ron, you’ve come to the right place, because I can help you. I’m not going to tell you what to do, but instead I’m going to lay out your options, and you can decide what to do. And so, Ron, your options are these:

1. Stop driving so much. This one is simple, Ron. You’ve still got 20,000 miles left on your 40,000-mile lease, so you aren’t over the lease maximum yet. All you have to do is simply not quite drive as much, and you’ll be good to go! Then again, I suspect you haven’t done 20,000 miles in a year for fun, so it strikes me that if this were an option, you probably would’ve done it.

With that said, Ron, here’s the thing: you can always buy a second vehicle in order to relieve the mileage burden on your first one. Since this idea adds complication and cost to your life, it isn’t exactly a good idea — but then again, neither was buying a 10,000-mile annual lease when you drive 20,000 miles a year.

2. Pay the penalty. Go into your lease terms and find out what the over-mileage penalty is for your lease. Maybe they screwed up and missed a decimal point while they were doing the paperwork, and as such your lease only charges you $0.0004 for every mile you go over the 40,000-mile cap. This means you could drive to the moon and pay only $108 in overage fees, which is a pretty good deal.

With that said, they’re probably going to charge you more like 15 cents a mile, and you’re currently on track to go over by 40,000 miles, so the penalty will be $6,000. That’s not an insane number, but it’s more than you probably want to spend just to get out of a contract on a four-year-old vehicle.

3. Buy the car. Probably your best option is simply buying the car at the end of the lease. If you go to turn in your 2017 C300 at the end of your lease, they’ll want $6,000 in mileage penalty fees, and you’ll walk away with nothing. Or, just take advantage of the buyout price in the lease terms: Take that $6,000, use it as a down payment, and you can finance your C300 and keep it with no penalty at all, since you now own the vehicle. This is what most people do when they go dramatically beyond their allotted miles on a leased vehicle.

4. Move to Orange County. Ron, if you spend most of your time driving between Los Angeles and San Diego, have you considered simply moving to Orange County? It’s right in the middle and I, personally, love Orange County. In fact, I am going there tomorrow, and I’ll be driving around in a rented Lexus RC-F, which is also probably a lease. Fortunately, unlike you, I do not plan to drive it 20,000 miles in a year, but rather about 300 miles in a weekend. It should be lovely. Find a car for sale

Doug DeMuro is an automotive journalist who has written for many online and magazine publications. He once owned a Nissan Cube and a Ferrari 360 Modena. At the same time.

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  1. I swear this is true.   I used to work at a Toyota store.  We had a lady come in with a van she leased “for her brothers church” that was 2 years old with 187k on it!   Her lease was a standard 3 yr 12k.   Her options were:

    Pay $22,900 for the extra miles plus damage to the car and early turn in fee.  That was like 46k
    She could buy out the car for 22k since it had some options.
    Either way the thing was t work 7k
    She did not seem to think it was a probabl.
  2. Doug missed another option, which as another Doug I’ll provide to you.  Since you’re already over the mileage try to sell the lease on a lease swapping site.  Offer an incentive on the lease, and hopefully someone who doesn’t drive as much will buy it.

  3. I have very little sympathy for people who get so ahead of their leases. You know how much you drive to work, and add a bit for pleasure, the math is easy. Either he didn’t pay attention to what he was getting into or his job changed right after the lease started. He needs to buy extra miles, they’re $.25/mile but if you do it ahead of time they can add it to the payment instead of as a lump sum at the end. I’ve never heard of anyone being so off track that wasn’t planning on buying the car at the end. It’s like signing a 2 year lease on a studio apartment when your wife is six months pregnant: you know it won’t work but it’s cheap so what the hell, then reality sets in and you’re screwed.

    • good thing there’s people like you in the world to keep things orderly and just for the rest of us.

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