Skip to Main Content

Leased car repossession: What to know

Close up of silver car on tow truck bed
Tham Kee Chuan/EyeEm/Getty Images
Bankrate Logo

Why you can trust Bankrate

While we adhere to strict , this post may contain references to products from our partners. Here's an explanation for .

Many Americans choose to lease their vehicles due to the lower monthly payments for newer vehicles and the ease of replacing their car with a new one after just a few years. 

While leasing is convenient for many people, if you have trouble making your payments your leased car might get repossessed. But there are actions you can take before it begins to prevent it from being repossessed, or at least ease some of the consequences. 

Steps to take before repossession 

If you’re missing payments on your car leases, there is a chance that your vehicle might get repossessed. But you may still be able to delay or prevent repossession. 

  • Read the terms of your contract. Your lease contract will outline whether and when your car can be repossessed. It also outlines the costs and what you will owe after the repossession. Understanding what conditions need to be met and how you can avoid them before your car is repossessed can help you come up with a plan for moving forward. 
  • Come up with a plan. Think about whether you want to keep the car and if you can afford it. You might be better off trying to get out of the lease and replacing it with a less expensive one. 
  • Remove all personal items from your car. Your car can be repossessed at any time. Take anything that you want to keep out of the car, otherwise it might get driven away along with your vehicle. 
  • Consider voluntary repossession. If you know your leased car is about to be repossessed, you can agree to hand it over voluntarily. This can limit fees that you will pay and might reduce the damage to your credit. 

Ways to prevent a leased car repossession 

If the car you are leasing is about to be repossessed, there are some steps you can take to try to keep the vehicle. 

Make the missed payments 

Many lease contracts let you “cure” your lease if you make any missed payments. For example, if you’re paying $250 a month and missed the last two monthly payments, you could send $750 to the leasing company to cover your monthly payment and make up for the previous two to put you back in good standing. 

Contact the leasing company 

If you reach out to your leasing company, it might be willing to work with you to help you keep the car. This could include letting you defer payments or adjusting the terms of your contract to make the lease more affordable. 

Voluntary repossession 

If you give up your car voluntarily, the leasing company will likely charge fewer fees than it would if it had to send someone to tow it. While you will still lose the car, it can save you money and help you recover more quickly. 

How much a leased car repossession costs 

Once your leased car gets repossessed, you aren’t free and clear from your debts. You will still owe money to the leasing company and there will likely be significant fees added to payments you already owed. 

You can expect to pay: 

  • The costs of preparing the car for sale. 
  • The remaining balance of your lease, often reduced by the amount the company sells your car for. 
  • Any past due amount. 
  • Charges for excess mileage and wear and tear. 
  • Any costs incurred during the repossession. 

The bottom line 

Dealing with a leased car repossession can be stressful, but if you don’t take steps to prepare, you will be facing hefty fees and might have trouble affording a replacement vehicle. If you contact your lender ahead of time and try to get ready for repossession, it can minimize the negative impact. 

 

 

Written by
TJ Porter
Contributing writer
TJ Porter is a contributing writer for Bankrate. TJ writes about a range of subjects, from budgeting tips to bank account reviews.
Edited by
Auto loans editor