By Jim Donovan
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Drive off the lot in a brand new car. These days it isn’t only new car buyers who can do that. 3 On Your Side Consumer Reporter Jim Donovan finds that even people locked into a current car lease may be able to do it too!
Upgrade to a newer vehicle and maybe even lower your monthly payments to boot! For those locked into a lease, it’s not as difficult as it may seem.
“It’s a great time to get out of a lease that might not be right for you and your family anymore,” says Jeannine Fallon with the automotive website Edmunds.com.
It involves a practice in the auto industry known as a “lease pull-ahead” or an “early lease return deal,” and it’s expected to be more prevalent in 2013.
According to Fallon, “Right now car dealerships could use some more used cars, they have a lot of people in market and not as much inventory as they like. So if you’ve got a leased car that is coming to the end of term, they will take it from you early and give you a great deal on a new car.”
Ford and Lincoln, for example, often allow customers out of a lease anywhere from three to six months early, as long as they lease or buy another new vehicle from the same brand.
Ford calls it the “early bird.”
John Gatto, Finance Manager at Springfield Ford/Lincoln, says “Your early bird is going to pretty much just make your last three to six payments disappear, and then there’s also some loyalty programs behind that. So in a particular case going from a Ford vehicle to another Ford vehicle lease, there may be an additional incentives on top of everything else.”
Who takes advantage of an early bird?
According to Gatto, “It’s typically the buyer that likes all the new gadgets, likes all the new equipment, likes the newest model.”
But drivers looking to lower their monthly payments can benefit too. Fallon says, “They want to keep you in the family, they are going to work with you to give you a better deal that’s a better fit for your monthly budget.”
A lease pull-ahead isn’t the same thing as an early lease termination where you want to end the lease and just walk away. Pull-ahead deals are designed to get you into a new vehicle. So if you’re interested in a lease pull-ahead deal, be sure to read the offer carefully so that you understand the terms, conditions and possible fees.
Also, take note of your annual mileage limit of the new lease and be sure it’s not less than your current one.
Lease pull-ahead offers vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. If your vehicle lease expires within the next year, and you plan on leasing again or buying within the same brand, a pull-ahead deal may be worth exploring.