About three years ago I was victim of carjacking. My car (Honda) which I owned got totaled and after a month of working with insurance I got a equivalent value of my car from insurance and the next day I leased a Chevy for 3 years / 36K miles. I was really upset because of the incident, so I did not negotiated very well with the dealer and I believe I did not get a good deal.

But most importantly I grossly overestimated the mileage that I believed I could use in three years. The reason was I tried to avoid using my car or driving due that carjacking incident. I am always worried something can happen and I become a victim again. So, I primary used public transportation, Uber and Taxi during the past three years.

Long story short, I have a few months until my lease and I have not used even 5K miles yet.

Question: I understand that it was my mistake to overestimate the mileage but how can I control the damage? I (believe) I have few options:

  1. pay the amount written on lease agreement and buy the car
  2. extend the lease for one or two more years
  3. (if it is possible) get an incentive from the dealer to lease another car

I talked with the dealer last week (I felt he is not very honest with me) and he said: option #3 is not possible under any circumstances.

Please let me know if there are other options that I do not know it about. Thanks.

  • 12
    I would suggest you are thinking about this incorrectly. Yes, you could have driven a lot more miles in the past three years, but that is in the past. The question is what is your best option going forward, given you have this low mileage car. You didn't list option 4-return the car to the dealer and terminate the lease. Yes, that doesn't get you any advantage from the miles left, but maybe it is the best option. Both 1 and 2 leave you driving this car for some time and 3 leaves you driving a car of the same brand for a while. Is there some other car you would really rather drive? Commented Jan 1, 2017 at 5:38
  • 2
    1 gets you the car at what should be an attractive price because the price is based on the contract number of miles. 3 is essentially doing 1 and then selling the car back to the dealer. The dealer's pricing may or may not make that attractive. For 2 you will start the add-on period with a lot of miles in your pocket, but you probably won't use them. You will be leasing a used car, so the rate should be low because there is less depreciation. On the other hand, no other dealer can compete with this deal, so the existing dealer will not have a sharp pencil. Commented Jan 1, 2017 at 5:42
  • 11
    Why do you want to lease another car?
    – Ben Miller
    Commented Jan 1, 2017 at 13:10
  • @Ben Miller you may be right. Buying a car might be a better option than leasing as I don't drive much.
    – Node.JS
    Commented Jan 3, 2017 at 8:52
  • 3
    Have you considered not having a car at all, continuing to use transit and Uber, plus renting a car when you need one?
    – stannius
    Commented Jan 3, 2017 at 20:31

3 Answers 3


The most important question is: What's your buyout price and what's your car worth?

If your 3 year old car has less than 5K miles on it, most likely it's worth more than your buyout price. If it's a car you would consider purchasing with 36K miles on it, then you're getting a great bargain if you can pay the same amount for a car with 5K on it. If you're not interested in purchasing the car for yourself, you should still be able to buy and sell it for a profit. If you don't want to deal with trying to find a buyer before your lease is up, you could try taking it to CarMax or somewhere similar and see what they offer you for your car. If the amount they offer you is more than your buyout they will assist you with the entire process and you could walk away with some cash. If your car is in great condition I'd bet you come out ahead.

Also, regarding your option #3 - you don't have to necessarily lease another car. If the car is worth significantly more than the buyout, any dealer would want it, so you could "shop around" and see who offers you the most for your car. Note you can also return your car to any GM dealer, so talk to other Chevy dealers too. Your dealer may be downplaying your options with the hopes that you'll just turn it in to them.

  • 11
    FWIW, I did the CarMax thing with my previous lease. It had something like 8-10k miles on it after 3 years, when I paid for 30k (I think?). They paid me something like $2500 more than it cost to pay off the lease and they did all the paperwork and then handed me a check. Just be aware that you will likely have to do this deal on a weekday during the day as they have to call the Chevy lease people who only work during normal business hours. (At least that's how the Acura lease office was.) Commented Jan 1, 2017 at 3:49

I'd go with option #3 and pretend that the first two options were never even on the table. All things are negotiable, especially in dealerships! A dealer will NEVER send you away if you are willing to give them some money.

The dealer is lying to you about option #3 because he thinks you will lease another car even without the incentive (maybe you already told him this?) so he is trying to take it off the table to maximize his compensation.

The problem, if I had to guess, is you. You are probably a reasonable, normal person who expects other people to also be reasonable and normal. Car salesmen are not reasonable, normal people when they are closing deals. They are self interested jerks and you need to become a self interested jerk when you deal with them.

Imagine a dealership as a theater. Everyone has a script...except you. All you need to know about the play is that the main character, you, is going to buy (or lease) a car. Maybe from this dealer or maybe from another, it makes no difference. Your character is a competent negotiator (who is also a bit of a greedy, ego driven jerk) who loves to say "no." Let this character pick out what you think is an insulting deal and let him negotiate for it. You'll be shocked at what can be achieved!

  • 4
    That third paragraph? Spot on. Commented Jan 1, 2017 at 1:09
  • 1
    I don't think you have to be a "greedy jerk," just a patient and a little bit stubborn guy who doesn't want to get ripped off. ;) Who still loves to say, "no," of course, and is also willing to get up and leave when they start saying, "no." I haven't had enough experience buying to have it happen to me, but I've seen dealers call my dad later trying to get him to come back after he left many a time. Sometimes, they were too late and he found a better deal elsewhere. The buyer really holds a lot of the cards in car buying, if not most or all, and the trump card is walking away.
    – jpmc26
    Commented Jan 2, 2017 at 2:15
  • 3
    I don't think a "greedy" "ego-driven" jerk is the best way to put it lol. Just be a savvy negotiator knowing various aspects of the game, but still grounded with principles and candidness. After all if you don't accept his terms you can walk away. This doesn't make you in any sense much "greedy". On the contrary that's very much rational and normal behavior. Just needs a bit of patience and resilience and calmness, that's it.
    – xji
    Commented Jan 6, 2017 at 22:06

First off I am sorry for what happened to you and it seems like you suffer some PTSD from the incident. While it may seem like trolling to do this, it is not my intention: you make want to seek some professional help. People certainly suffer some PTSD from far less stressful situations and your post indicated that it lead you into making decisions you were not happy about in hindsight.

All that being said it sounds like you are seeking to make an optimal financial decision now. If that is the case: walk away from this lease and never lease again. Leasing is the single most expensive way to own a car according to just about every financial publication and author.

Option #1 might be okay if you can buy the car for less than it is actually worth. In that case, that is the best way to exit this lease. However, its unrealistic to think that any transaction with a car dealership will not cost you in some way.

You also don't give any kind of indication of your financial status. If there are student loans, credit card debt, or under funded retirement you might want to make that a priority rather than what you drive. Owning some basic transportation and dedicating any savings toward those financial goals would probably be the best option.

A retired client of mine, that has a healthy financial profile (debt free millionaires with passive income to meet their daily living expenses), lease cars. They lease lower end sedans so the payments are low. In essence they are outsourcing care and maintenance on their cars. In relationship to their net worth any inefficiency from leasing is meaningless.

You may find yourself in a similar situation. Your income, pace of retirement savings, and net worth may allow you to absorb the cost of a lease. As such lease the car that you would like without going to crazy.

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