Dear Terry,

I’m still about 21 months from finishing up my car lease for a Mercedes S550 and can no longer continue the high lease payments. Right now, I’m behind by two months and planning to return the car before they send a repossession guy to my house.

Do I still have to pay the deficiency, which is about $59,000, if I voluntary return the car? How long would my credit be ruined by this voluntary return? Do they have the right to go after my personal savings?


Dear Joy,

The news is not good. Returning a car voluntarily before the lease is up will go on your credit report the same as a repossession, which means it will be on your credit report for seven years.

And the lender can sue you for the balance owed after the vehicle is sold, plus the costs associated with the selling of the car and any legal costs. If they get a judgment against you, they could try to garnish any bank accounts you have, though you could fight such actions in court.

Here are this week’s reader questions:
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If you have a question for Terry, e-mail him at

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