Dear Driving for Dollars,
When you surrender a leased car, how do you know what you owe?
— Susan

Dear Susan,
If you are referring to a voluntary surrender — when you turn in your leased car because you can no longer make the payments — you will owe the total cost of the remaining payments and most likely, a stiff early termination fee and any other applicable fees, such as those for excessive wear and tear or excessive mileage. Voluntarily surrendering your leased car also will affect your credit in the same way that a car repossession will, so think about it carefully before you go that route. You may want to consider trading in your leased car for another, possibly cheaper, lease, which likely would save you the early termination fee. Your best bet, if your leasing company allows it, may be to find someone to take over the remainder of your lease by using a third-party service such as or

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Read more Driving for Dollars columns and Bankrate auto stories. Tara Baukus Mello is a freelance writer who has written about automotive topics of interest to consumers since 1995. If you have a car question, e-mail it to us at Driving for Dollars.