Money Talks, So Should You

'Pull-ahead' could be your ticket to a new car or truck deal

Auto dealers signal willingness on 'early lease return' deals.

Brian O'Connell
by Brian O'Connell, MainStreet contributor

NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Edmunds.com asked U.S. auto consumers an interesting question this week: If you could shed your car or truck lease and get a new vehicle with lower payments, would you do it?

Edmunds says auto dealers are actually willing to play ball on “early-lease return” deals — which lead to some great leasing deals for U.S. road warriors, Edmunds says.

“Early lease-return deals can be a win-win for both buyers and sellers,” Edmunds.com senior consumer advice editor Philip Reed says. “Consumers can move on to a newer vehicle sooner than they expected without paying more money, while dealers can reinforce brand loyalty and boost used-car inventories or unload their slower-selling models.”

You can likely already guess the next question: How can you get in on the action, and get a better car or truck at a lower lease rate?

READ: Is it worth it: Leasing an automobile

The answer to that lies in the phrase “lease pull-ahead offers,” Edmunds says.

In a word, lease pull-ahead means an auto company will pay for a specified number of months remaining on your auto lease, if you agree to buy or lease another vehicle from that manufacturer. Such deals can pay off if your car or truck lease is about to expire (say, in six months), and you want to avoid paying penalties for exceeding the maximum mileage on your vehicle. Automakers want to pursue such an arrangement to keep you “in the family” and reduce inventories.

Edmunds estimates that 2013 should be a banner year for lease pull-aheads, with about 500,000 early returns across the U.S.

If your payment record is good, chances are the dealer will contact you and see if you want to get out of your lease early and into a new car with less expense. By and large, if your car’s trade-in value is higher than the lease buyout price, you may have some good leverage to negotiate a deal on a new lease, or even a purchase for a car or truck.

READ: How to negotiate a lease

In some cases, Edmunds says, you can even turn the remaining lease payments into cash.

So what’s you best move for a new lease deal? Edmunds offers the following tips:

  • Read the offer carefully so you understand all the terms, conditions and possible fees.
  • Note how much time remains on your lease; if you are in the last year, you are in the best position for a lease pull-ahead deal.
  • Consider the mileage factor: Are you under the limits of your lease or over? Take note of the annual mileage limit on the new lease and be sure it's not less than your current one.
  • Ensure that the drive-off fees from the first lease will carry over to the new lease.

Edmunds offers a useful, if informal, tutorial on lease pull-ahead deals. If you’re eligible, and don’t mind staying in the same automaker “family,” it could be one of the best financial moves you’ll make all year.

Brian O’Connell has 15 years of experience covering business news and trends, particularly in the financial, health care and career management sectors. He has written 14 books and appeared on CNN, Fox News, CNBC, C-Span, Bloomberg, CBS Radio and other media outlets and in such publications as The Wall Street Journal and The Street.com. He is a former Wall Street bond trader.