How long should I lease a car for?

Want to lease a car for one, three or four years? We reveal all you need to know about car lease lengths...

Dealership featuring Mercedes E-Class

When you're in the process of agreeing a car lease deal, it is important to decide how long you want it to last. The duration of the lease not only impacts the size of the monthly payments, but also what maintenance you'll be liable for over the contract term, and how easy it might be to get out of the deal.

Here we look at what's available, and what might be best for you.

How long are car leasing deals?

Most lease contracts are either two or three years in length, although it is possible to arrange deals for between one and four years. You might find the occasional five-year lease deal, but it's rare, and contracts longer than that don't really exist at all.

A longer deal typically means lower monthly payments, although this is not always the case. Lease deals consist of an initial deposit, followed by regular monthly payments for the duration of the contract.


What does '3+35' mean?

A lease deal described as '3+35' would be three years in duration, with an initial deposit equivalent to three monthly payments. For example, if the car is advertised as £200 per month on a 3+35 contract, you will pay £600 in the first month (3 x £200), then £200 a month for the remaining 35 months.

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What is the best length for a car lease?

One-year lease deals are widely available, but two- and three-year contracts are most popular. Two-year leases offer greater flexibility to swap cars more frequently, but three-year leases generally offer lower monthly repayments.

Both are appealing options, because at no point will the car require an MOT test, although it will still need to be serviced in line with the manufacturer's recommendations. As the car gets older, servicing costs might also increase, and will make any optional maintenance packages more expensive.


Can I end the agreement early?

Another important consideration if you are looking at a longer contract is your ability to terminate it early if your circumstances change. If you are certain that you won't be left unable to afford the monthly payments, then the lower monthly payments in exchange for greater commitment may be attractive to you.

If, however, you might be left either unable to afford the payments or unable to use the car, it's better to opt for a shorter term, or a car finance option. This way, you avoid expensive cancellation fees, or the risk of the car being repossessed, and having to continue to pay for a car you can no longer use.

If you see a car you like the look of, but that's advertised as part of a deal that isn't the right length for you, it is worth contacting the leasing provider to check whether they can alter their offer to suit you.

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