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Can You Lease a Used Car?

If you ever wondered if it’s possible to lease a used vehicle, the quick answer is, yes, you can.

But not all dealerships offer used car leasing, so it involves patience and calling around to find those that do. Offering a lease on a used vehicle can be a risky business because it’s difficult to know how a used car’s value may change over time.

Once you find a dealership, leasing a used car can be a great way to get behind the wheel of a newer used vehicle model, and it’s typically more affordable than a new car. You can also get more for your money, including a car with more options or a higher trim level.

Read on for tips to help you decide if it’s the right move for you.

1. Research and Know Your Options

You need to know what kind of car you want and what features are important to you. You also need to know what kind of monthly payment you can afford. That is why it is vital to do your research before shopping.

However, leasing a used car works differently than leasing a new one. The dealer will usually offer several models with additional features and prices to choose from with a new car. Leasing will depend on the dealership’s inventory of used, certified pre-owned vehicles and dealership certified. Some dealerships don’t offer the option of used car leasing at all.

Supply chain issues and the chip shortage impacted new and used car inventories. So finding a used car to lease may be more challenging than ever.

For that reason, it’s imperative to know what you want before you go into the dealership. If you don’t see what you want, be willing to look at other vehicles in your price range.

TIP: Bring a friend or family member with you when you go car shopping. They can help you decide and keep track of all the information.

2. Get the Vehicle History Report

Before you sign any paperwork, make sure you get a vehicle history report for the car. Typically supplied for free from the used car dealership, this report will tell you how many people owned the vehicle and its accident and service history.

If the vehicle history shows an accident in the report for the car you want, it may be best to walk away. The risk of mechanical problems down the road is just too high and defeats the purpose of meeting your transportation needs.

You can also ask for any service receipts for the vehicle, though the report will also list how often the car got serviced. That information can show you how its previous owner cared for the vehicle or not.

TIP: If the dealer doesn’t offer to show you the report, you can ask them to provide one or obtain it on your own through AutoCheck and Carfax for a nominal fee. These reports help provide peace of mind when searching for your next vehicle. Just ask for the VIN (vehicle identification number) of the car. Reputable dealerships almost always will provide the report free of charge.

3. Check for Manufacturer’s Certified Pre-Owned Program

Some manufacturers offer certified pre-owned programs for their used cars. These cars must meet specific criteria to be approved, and they come with additional warranties.

If you lease a certified pre-owned car, the vehicle is less of a risk. Carefully read the fine print on the car warranty or car service contract before signing anything.

TIP: Choosing to lease a used car that includes the remainder of its warranty is better than selecting a vehicle that doesn’t have that coverage.

4. Get an Independent Inspection

Safeguard your wallet by getting an independent inspection of the vehicle, especially if you’re not leasing a certified pre-owned car. This inspection from a qualified mechanic provides extra reassurance that the car is in good condition and won’t cost you down the road.

Review the inspection results and negotiate with the dealer to fix any problems before taking possession of the car. You can also walk away from the deal if it’s not acceptable.

5. Know All Your Costs

Leases for used cars typically last two to three years. Your budget is not just the monthly payment you can afford. You also need to factor in taxes, registration fees, and car insurance.

Be sure to ask the dealer about all the costs and the final total, too. Ask about the monthly and down payments and any other fees required. Asking will prevent you from surprises such as additional fees when it’s time to sign the lease agreement.

You also need to know your average annual mileage allowance and the cost for exceeding the limit. Most leases come with a mileage limit of 12,000 miles per year. If you go over this limit, you may have to pay a fee of up to 25 cents per mile.

TIP: Get a list of all fees in writing before signing the lease agreement. Don’t sign on to an extended warranty unless you really need one. Remember, leasing is temporary unless you want to do a buyback at the end.

6. Take Over a Lease Instead

If you are still interested in leasing a car that’s not entirely new, one option you can consider is taking over an existing lease. Although this isn’t very common, it’s an option. Several websites like and others will facilitate a lease takeover between an original lessor and someone who wants to lease a car for an even shorter term than a traditional one.

Although it could be an easier way to find a leased vehicle, it comes with its own set of issues. For one, you’ll need to be approved by the current automaker or the leasing company, and that process often takes time. You’ll also be on the hook for repairs necessary at the end of the lease, including repairing any damage done by the original driver. You’ll have to look closely at the contract to see if the lease requires any additional costs when the term ends.

Is Used Car Leasing a Good Idea?

In general, we suggest buying rather than leasing if you’re looking for a used vehicle. The process is simpler, and it’s far easier to find a used car for sale than for lease. Also, know that if you lease a 3-year-old vehicle without a warranty, you’ll be on the hook for any maintenance or repairs the car needs during your lease.

This will be a problem for most drivers since they will be paying out of pocket to repair a car they don’t even own. Imagine paying to fix a house you rent, and you’ll understand why this isn’t a desirable scenario. Read more about the pros and cons.

Still, we could think of situations where leasing might be preferable to buying. If that’s the case, do your research and know what you’re getting into before signing any paperwork. Following these tips will help you lease a used car with confidence.

Read Related Leasing Stories:


Where can I lease a used car?

To lease a used vehicle, you’ll need to call used car dealerships to see if they offer this option.

Why do people lease used cars?

If purchasing a used car is not an option due to finances, vehicle shoppers might turn to used car leasing. It’s also for people who prefer getting into a newer vehicle without the expense of a larger car payment. The average new car transaction topped $47,000, and the average price for used cars remained near record highs at around $27,000. Many people can’t afford such a price.

How many miles can you put on a leased used car?

it depends. You can select the average annual miles you think you’ll use during the duration of the used car lease. Typically, terms get set between 10,000 miles to 15,000 miles.

Doug Demuro
Doug DeMuro writes articles and makes videos, mainly about cars. Doug was born in Denver, Colorado, and received an economics degree from Emory University in Atlanta. After graduation, Doug spent three years working for Porsche Cars North America. Eventually, he quit his job to become a writer, largely because it meant that he no longer had to wear pants. Doug’s work has been featured in a... Read More about Doug Demuro

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  1. How long do you have to lease a car for before you can opt out or trade for another car?
    Is it cheaper per month if you lease a used car?
    If you lease a car how long before you are owner and is there addition charges to pay in the end?

  2. I disagree with the comments made about leasing a pre-owned car. There are many positive attributes to most pre-owned lease programs such as the possibility to return the car at any time without prepayment penalties or fees, lower cost of entry, lower lease payments and lower qualification standards. The market for Used Car Leasing is growing and the target customers are those looking for a great used car. Many of the used car lease programs also come with a 50,000 mile warranty which will soften the concerns of leasing used. Millennials and younger car shoppers place less importance on cars than “baby boomers”. Most are focusing more on monthly payments and value. 

    • Just keep in mind that you’ll be required to do all maintenance on a used vehicle that usually is costly.  Just had a friend pay off their vehicle which was out of warranty……..$1100.00 to have it serviced.

    • You can probably find someone to do that, but it will be very expensive. The advertised leases you see are set up to get the lowest possible payment taking into account the vehicle’s worth when the lease period is over. We’re thinking it might be cheaper to finance the purchase of a 2 year old car, then sell it when you’re done.

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