Can I Back Out of a Car Lease After Signing?

A car lease is written contract with financial ramifications for cancellation.
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Before you sit down to sign a lease for a new vehicle, make sure it's exactly the car you want, and more importantly that it is a car that comes with payments you can afford. Turning the wheels around and heading back into the showroom with your newly leased vehicle can be a costly mistake.


The Lease: A Final Contract

When you sign an auto lease, you may notice a sign in the finance manager's office stating, "There is no cooling off period." Unlike a mortgage or other loan, a car lease contract is final, and there is no three-day right to rescind your contract. You cannot turn in your keys and change your mind. You have signed a contract to lease the auto for the terms and price described on your lease, says the Federal Trade Commission.


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You are responsible for the remaining payments that are left on the lease plus other early termination penalties that may be outlined in your paperwork. Furthermore, once you drive the car off the lot, the car is now used and worth considerably less, even if there are just three miles on the odometer.


Unprocessed Paperwork Scenario

If your paperwork is still sitting in the finance manager's office and you can make a case for your costly mistake, ask to speak to the general manager. Explain your situation. The dealership may feel your pain and let you cancel the lease, as the paperwork hasn't officially been put through yet, but this is not a likely scenario. However, if the paperwork has been processed and the title has been transferred to the car, the car is now yours, and you are stuck with the car.


Request a Lease Restructure

If you want to cancel the car lease because it is too expensive for your budget, you may better off asking the lender or leasing company if you can restructure the lease to a payment that is more affordable. Explain your situation in detail and ask for a lower lease price for the car. Many financial institutions have programs set up in place for dealing with legitimate hardships. Explain that you are willing to extend the term period of the lease to cover the original agreed-upon lease price, advises This tactic may work if you describe in detail why you cannot afford the car and put it in writing.


Dealing With a Fraudulent Lease

Suppose your car has been tampered with; for instance, the odometer has been rolled back from a higher mileage reading to make the engine appear less used. If so, you may have a case for canceling the lease. Tampering with an odometer is a federal crime, and you should return the vehicle to the dealership and demand the lease to be canceled. If the dealer has misrepresented the lease by manipulating the car's residual value, or by charging excessive early termination fees or deceiving you in any way, you should contact an attorney if the dealer will not cancel the lease.