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Car Leases Can Be Tricky. But When a Dealer Takes a Trade-In Without Paying Off the Lease, TrustDALE Gets Involved


Car leases have their challenges, but for some people, they really work. A lease can allow a driver to obtain a car they couldn’t have bought. But what happens when you try to trade in a leased car? Usually, the dealer taking the trade-in has to pay off the lease. That’s what this consumer was expecting until she got a bit of a surprise.

An Incomplete Trade-In

Denise Corbitt needed a new car. She had just moved to Atlanta from Houston, and she went to a local dealership to do what millions of Americans do. She traded in her old vehicle. In her case, the trade-in had an active lease. To complete the trade-in, the dealership cut her a check to pay off the lease, so she could pay the company directly and trade-in a car she owned free and clear. They calculated what she owed, and wrote the check.

But when Denise went to pay off her lease, the lease company had a different amount in mind. They told her that the check she got from the dealership was $1,200 short of the payoff amount. So she went back to the dealership.

The dealership claimed that it was up to her to pay the remaining $1,200 if she wanted to trade in her car. She tried to work with the dealership to come to an agreement, but after two months of trying, nothing changed. So she called TrustDALE.

TrustDALE Gets It Done

We sent this case to one of our producers, Marnie. Marnie talked to Denise and then contacted the dealership to gather more information. It turns out what the $1,200 the dealership refused to cover was, according to them, the result of deferred payments. They said they would only pay for the amount left on the loan according to their calculations of the payoff date, not the amount actually owed. So Marnie decided to look for more information about that process.

After digging into the law, Marnie found what she had suspected. If you take over the loan on a car, you have to take over the whole loan. There simply wasn’t a legal option for the dealership not to pay the remaining $1,200 owed on the car. So she reached back out to the dealership with that information.

The dealership took that information and made a complete about-face. The owner called Denise personally to inform her that they would be sending a check for the rest of the money, and even apologized for the trouble she had to go through.

At TrustDALE, we get results. We are persistent but kind. We know that often the customer service people consumers deal with don’t have the authority to do much about a bad situation. We make it our business to talk to the right people in the right way, and usually, people want to do what’s right.