I co-signed for my sister car a couple years back. It was a leased car. And with leased cars you have to pay for all the damages you have caused. As a co signer am I the one responsible to pay for those damages that she caused?

  • 7
    In light of your learnings, consider whether you'd co-sign again in the future. Sister now has a credit record, and its her's to maintain or damage as she sees fit. It's not your problem. You went above-and-beyond to help her, but she has to care for her financial wellness while you protect your own.
    – Criggie
    Sep 29, 2022 at 1:33
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    @Criggie but with a leased car you have to pay for the damages when you return it. If she doesn’t pay then I have too and I did but I need her to pay me back for it. It was over 3000 I have 3 kids. That’s why I asked if I could do something to get my money back
    – Aw4931
    Sep 29, 2022 at 13:51
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    Would any of the damage be covered by insurance? $3000 is a lot for beyond normal wear and tear, or caused by passengers.
    – TTT
    Sep 29, 2022 at 17:58
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    @MonkeyZeus I agree with regular maintenance. But if you hit a curb and damage the suspension that's normally covered by collision insurance, and AFAIK collision is required with leased vehicles. If you're referring to not maintaining your tires, and because of that lack of maintenance you slide into a curb and damage the suspension, I could see the insurance company trying to possibly dispute the claim, but I doubt that's what happened here... :)
    – TTT
    Sep 29, 2022 at 18:57
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    You should have asked this question before you co-sign anything! Sep 30, 2022 at 12:44

3 Answers 3



When you co-signed, you accepted joint liability for the car (presumably because the lender didn't think your sister was sufficiently trustworthy on her own). If there are damages, the lender can come after either or both of you to pay for them. Since you were the financially responsible one, they're much more likely to come after you because it's a lot more likely that you have the money and a good credit score that you'd like to protect.

If your sister has the ability to pay the damages but isn't willing to pay them, you could potentially pay them and sue her in small claims court for reimbursement. But most of the time, if a lender won't lease someone a car, there is a reason for that. And that reason often makes the person judgement proof-- you can't get blood from a stone.

  • 30
    And now you know why cosigning is bad. Your sister's risks are so high that official lending institutions did not want to extend her credit. That's literally what cosigning means.
    – Nelson
    Sep 29, 2022 at 6:03
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    @Nelson "bad" is a matter of perspective. Many people do big favors for family and friends that a stranger would not consider.
    – Barmar
    Sep 29, 2022 at 13:41
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    Ok I get it. I already told myself I will never co sign for another person again. I just wanted to know if she is responsible for paying for the damages thst she caused. And if she doesn’t pay back for the damages what I could do. You don’t need to downgrade someone when they were trying to help a family member out. It’s rather rude.
    – Aw4931
    Sep 29, 2022 at 13:47
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    @Aw4931 short answer: yes she's responsible for those damages and it's money she owes you. As to what you can do to get reimbursed, you can ask in LegalSE. I suspect small claims court. One thing to consider: how much can she pay? As Justin Cave said you can't get blood from a stone. Another consideration is whether you want to sour your relationship with your sister over 3K.
    – Aubreal
    Sep 29, 2022 at 14:13
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    Barmar: Co-signing is bad. If I want to help a relative or friend, and I can afford it, I'll give them the money. (This is rare obviously). I never, ever, in a million years, will co-sign for anything. People think co-signing is just a formality, in reality it is just the same as giving the person the money.
    – gnasher729
    Sep 30, 2022 at 9:07

The co-signer is responsible for the payment, and paying it was the correct course of action on your part. As for getting your money back from your sister, that may be difficult, but I believe it's possible.

You did your sister a huge favor by helping her purchase a car. You did her an even bigger favor by giving her a loan for $3000 when she needed it in an emergency. One would hope that she would be thankful for this. If she doesn't have much money right now, involving the courts is not going to help you, and would make it less likely that she would want to pay you back even if she could.

If you still have any sort of relationship with her, my suggestions would be:

  1. Ask her to pay what she can, with some sort of minimum amount, perhaps $10-20 per week until she gets back on her feet.
  2. Can she help you with something to work off a portion of the debt? Perhaps running errands for you, cleaning, babysitting, etc.

I have experience with being on both sides of these options, and the best advice I can give is to be civil and stay on good terms, if possible.


Is a Co signer on a leased vehicle responsible for damages?

In general, yes.

Per https://pocketsense.com/what-are-my-responsibilities-as-a-cosigner-on-a-car-lease-12445429.html

You have the same obligation to maintain the car as the primary borrower. If the principal borrower fails to maintain and repair the car, you will have to pay, as it is a shared responsibility. If the car is not maintained, the leasing company will impose charges at the end of the lease. This can include excess wear and tear, such as damage to the interior and scratches and dings that aren't repaired.

If the primary borrower – and you – fail to pay the charges, it will affect both of your credit scores.

You'd have to read through all of your sister's lease legalese to verify that you didn't just drop $3,000 out of the kindness of your heart but odds are very high that you were in fact liable for the cost.

When our lease ended we lucked out with a wear-and-tear clause which stated that we're not responsible for up to $1,000 of excess wear-and-tear. The line item showed we used up $700 because the car needed new tires when we returned it. Three months before the lease ended I had to shell out a few hundred for new pads and rotors so I'll call it a wash.

You did the right thing by paying the $3,000 so that your credit doesn't get ruined but now you have the tricky task of how to proceed with getting the money back from your sister.

The presumable fact that your sister has paid all of the car payments during the lease is nothing short of amazing, to be honest. Many co-signers get hit a lot worse than $3,000; I'm not saying that this statistic validates what happened but it could have been much worse.

  • Upvoting for your last paragraph. I agree that is pretty amazing. I wonder if some of that $3K actually included the return fee and some unpaid balance; that would actually be more believable than $3K in damages.
    – TTT
    Sep 29, 2022 at 18:34
  • @TTT $3K+ in damages at dealer prices ain't that much these days. Could be just a few small-ish things with a lot of labor and at top prices for OEM parts. A decent independent mechanic using aftermarket or rebuilt parts might charge $1K for almost the same thing. Sep 29, 2022 at 22:17
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    @SpehroPefhany Could be, though I'm starting to think that the $3K was probably the total of everything. (Return fee + mileage overage + damage, etc.) It wouldn't surprise me if they would have been better off flipping it at CarMax...
    – TTT
    Sep 30, 2022 at 1:02

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