What Happens If You Do Not Turn a Car in at the End of a Lease?

As stated in your lease contract, you must turn in your vehicle at the end of the leasing term. While repercussions and penalties are further stated in your contract, you can expect significant penalty fees or a repossession if you do not return the car, as the vehicle is not yours if it is not paid for.


Go to your lease contract to review bank penalties. Your lease contract also lists the lease buyout amount, or your last lease payment which is due upon the end of your term to keep the car. Most banks try to contact you before your lease is up to help you determine your best lease-end option. Contact your bank if you want to keep your car or extend the term; do not simply keep it past the lease end date. Some banks allow lease extensions, allowing you to stay in your car longer.

Lease End Options

You can finance the amount owed on the vehicle if you want to keep it. You do not have to finance through your leasing bank, you can choose whichever lender you would like. You can also return your lease and walk away at the end of the term. Or, you can trade it in for the buyout amount and put the vehicle toward another car purchase. If you're concerned about over-mileage or other leasing fees, trading in or selling privately may prove your best bet.


If you fail to return your lease and do not contact the bank to work out a purchase or lease extension, the bank can repossess the car. The terms of repossession are further discussed in your contract, but usually one missed payment is all it takes. The bank will hire a repossession company to collect the car, whether it be from your home, work or a parking lot. The bank does not have to notify you if it plans a repossession because you acknowledged the terms when you signed your contract.

Credit Reporting

Late payments and repossessions are both reported to the credit bureaus, damaging your credit. A repossession significantly effects your credit rating, and it is unlikely you will be able to lease again for years to come, as good to excellent credit is required to do so. To avoid the negative and expensive consequences of damaged credit, call your bank to determine your options or work out a payment plan if you owe money.