The Best Time to Lease a Car

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Leasing a car makes good sense for many people. Different factors, however, make leasing more attractive during different times of the year and affect the lease rates on new automobiles. The manufacturer has a large amount of control over leasing factors as the best leases are typically handled through the manufacturer's financing company. A dealer's willingness to negotiate also plays into the affordability of a new lease.

End of the Month

  • Nearly every car dealership will offer better lease deals near the end of the month. Every automobile maker offers volume incentives to dealers, so many dealers will sell cars at or below cost near the end of the month to hit a volume goal (often referred to as "stairstep"). Most stairstep offers end near the end of a calendar month, and management teams earn monthly bonuses based on volume.

When the Manufacturer Supports the Lease

  • When you see manufacturers advertising a lease offer on a particular model, it is typically because the manufacturer is "supporting" the lease. This is auto-jargon for factory-sponsored lease incentives. Manufacturers give below-market lease rates, high residual rates and sometimes "dealer cash" to allow the dealer extra negotiating power to lease higher numbers of a particular model. Manufacturers often do this to win sales volume awards or to clearance a particular model year.

End of the Year

  • End-of-the-year lease deals are often a combination of the preceding factors. Dealers are trying to hit year-end volume and sales targets, and so are manufacturers. Because both entities want to hit certain targets, both will typically make better deals than usual. Another time of the year that spurs similar deals is during regional auto shows.

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