ABC7 on Your Side: Swap your car lease

November 17, 2009 (CHICAGO) When you enter into a car lease the payments may be affordable, but what if you lose your job? Or work slows down?

To get out of a lease early, drivers would typically owe the remaining payments and possible other penalties. But some savvy Chicagoans found a way to make breaking a lease work for them.

Party planner Sarah Guifarro jumped at the chance to take her mom's old car and get rid of her newly leased car. But how would she get out of her lease?

"We're doing really well now but at the time it was really slow and that was one more payment I couldn't manage," said Guifarro.

Enter Bob and Karen Kuhn -- parents of two college students looking for a deal.

"We were looking for something that was economical and safe for our girls to take to school," said Karen Kuhn.

For $335 a month they swapped: Guiffaro turned over her lease and the Kuhns' daughters got Guiffaro's car without their parents paying a down payment or tax.

"There was no pressure salesman we just talked to Sarah and it was done," said Bob Kuhn. "We can have a new vehicle and we don't have to pay the tax on it. The tax is the big advantage. The person who leased the vehicle already paid the tax."

They used to transfer the financial obligation of the lease. The vehicle's are advertised with the mileage, location, time remaining on the lease and monthly payment.

"It's done through the leasing company we make sure that all the leasing policies are abided by both parties," said Richard Joseph,

Lease swapping can be a win-win for both parties, but some urge caution with any transaction like this -- and make sure both parties understand their the responsibility after the swap.

Secretary of State Jesse White warns the original lease to update new ownership.

"The person the automobile at the time may kill someone or injure someone or do something improper. the law enforcement officers will look at you first then you'll have to explain who the owner of the vehicle is now," said Secretary White.

In Downers Grove, Packey Webb Ford is now offering leases again. Ford like some other manufacturers had put leases on hold, but they're back and there are bargains.

"There's rebates involved, too. So, there's not only low rates, but they're coming with support of rebates that will beat up your taxes and lower your monthly payment," said John Webb, Packey Webb Ford.

Webb says leasees can negotiate good deals on their own directly from the dealer. But for some, the car lease swap is the best deal.

Guiffaro is able to drive her grandmother on errands in her mom's old car without the burden of an extra car payment.

"It's really nice not getting that payment. It's really nice just to be done with it and have a free car," said Guiffaro.

The Kuhns like lease swapping so much this was actually their second swap. Their first swap was for their Hummer. They took over the lease from an owner they say was desperate to get out of it.

"You're helping someone else. It's people helping people then and I think that's important also," said Karen Kuhn.

Important notes about lease swapping:

  • There is a fee to exit a lease starting at $50 at
  • The financing company must approve, so lease swapping doesn't work for all leases - in Guifarro's case Perillo BMW approved of the swap.
  • And the applicant will likely pay for a credit check.
  • On the up side, those eager to get out of a lease may offer an incentive. The Kuhns, got a $1,500 incentive from the Hummer's owner. The Kuhn's also recommend getting the car inspected before the swap.

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