Unloading that Gas-Guzzler

You fell in love with the big behemoth on the dealer's lot, but now soaring gasoline prices have cooled the affair. There are still 24 months to go on the lease, though, and getting out of it can cost you big bucks. A better idea is lease assumptionâ€"that's legalese for trading your leaseâ€"and there are several web sites that can help you.

“The shortest distance between two points is always under construction.”

—Noelie Altito

You fell in love with the big behemoth on the dealer’s lot, but now soaring gasoline prices have cooled the affair. There are still 24 months to go on the lease, though, and getting out of it can cost you big bucks. A better idea is lease assumption—that’s legalese for trading your lease—and there are several web sites that can help you.

Start at Edmunds.com for some pointers on what to watch out for when you get into lease transfers, then click over to a site like LeaseTrading.com, Swapalease.com, or Takemypayments.com. Basically the routine is to register your vehicle and then negotiate with potential buyers. Although SUVs are out of favor right now, your vehicle could offer the buyer the chance to pick up a bargain, since he/she would avoid a big down payment. Even so, you may have to offer a cash incentive to entice buyers and you’ll pay a moderate fee up front to register on the site. But even with those payments, the final cost is likely to be a lot less than buying your way out of the lease.

Chances are good that you’ll be able to transfer your lease with no strings attached, but with about 10% of lease companies, you’ll hang on to some liability for the vehicle even after the transfer. Another 10% of leasers, usually bank-based lenders like Chase Auto Finance, don’t allow lease transfers at all. Check out these issues with your lease company before you start.

28%

Percentage decline in the sale of SUVs in the 1st quarter of 2008.

(Autodata, 2008)

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