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With the spring thaw finally upon us (more or less), the automotive world is gearing up for another summer sales season.  While everyone assumes that direct mail is out as a marketing strategy, there are still a lot of mailers sent out, both by dealers and by manufacturers, as a way to present and promote vehicles.  And again, as we described in our first article on auto ads (which focused on online ads), presenting a lease deal is particularly advantageous in the small space available, because lease deals require relatively few numbers and text to present the offer to the largest audience.

Recap: What the ad will and won’t show

Any lease ad, regardless of the medium used (online, mail, newspaper/magazine, television, radio, billboard, etc.) will always show a few things to define what is being offered:

  • The monthly payment
  • The term
  • The amount of money due at signing
  • The number of miles included per year
  • The charge for any additional miles
  • Security deposit amount required

There will also be other disclaimers around what is not included (usually taxes and fees), the requirement to have credit approved by a lessor, and any other requirements that are assumed in the offer price.


While that makes it seem like a very comprehensive offer, there are some key things you won’t see in the ad, generally speaking, including these not so minor details:

  • The selling price of the vehicle
  • The vehicle’s residual value
  • The money factor (interest rate)

Reviewing a Couple of Lease Mailer Ads

Here are a couple of lease deals advertised.  These both were part of the same mailer, from a multi-store dealer group in the Los Angeles area.  As you can see they are promoting two different vehicles from two different brands, and while both have the same key information included, the format is still a bit different.


In this ad for a Jeep Grand Cherokee all the basics are there: the monthly payment, the term, the amount due at signing and the included mileage.  But there are a few interesting things that are also shown that you should pay attention to.  We highlighted in purple this condition “$1,000 Conquest Cash (Must have a current non CDJR lease)” because this is important – if you don’t have a competitor’s lease you won’t get this $1,000 incentive.  And if you don’t get it either you will need to put down more cash at signing, or your monthly payments would go up. Then there’s a phrase “Subject to prior sale.” I have some guesses, but I’m not really sure what that means.  If you don’t either, but the deal is otherwise interesting to you – ask the dealer.



This ad for a 2017 Acura TLX was part of the same mailer from this dealership group (besides a Jeep and Acura store I believe they sold 2 or 3 other brands).  Despite being part of the same dealership, the language is quite different, although all the same major items: monthly payment, down payment, term and miles are covered.  For example, while the ad for the Jeep used “Zero security deposit” this ad states the same fact with “No security deposit required”, and similarly the included miles and excess mileage charge are stated using completely different language.  Speaking of mileage: notice how few miles were included in this lease: 7,500 annually is only about 60% of the average American’s annual mileage.  When you see a lease payment that seems too good to be true, always check the required down payment and mileage! 

How to Make Use of the Lease Ad

While lease advertisements leave out some important details, they are a good starting point for knowing whether a deal will fit your needs and your budget, but just remember to consider the ad the starting point and not the end point.  Both of these ads were for vehicles that had an MSRP around $32,000 – so even a 72 month 0% financing special with nothing down would have run over $450 per month (excluding taxes and fees).  Thus, when you see a lease ad for a vehicle like this at $199 per month, you should know to read the fine print.  And you know what: if you happen to be considering a Jeep, currently drive a competitive brand and 10,000/miles per year fits you driving needs – that might be a great deal.  Likewise, if you don’t drive all that much, and a small sedan meets your needs, this Acura deal may be a great deal.  And, as always, don’t consider the advertised deal to a done deal – not every vehicle leaves much room for the dealer to negotiate further, but conversations with your dealer will make that clear, and it is very possible to do even better that the advertised special as long as you focus on getting a good deal on the selling price, and using that discounted price to help reduce your lease payment or required down payment.



Next Article: “Leasing a Final Model”

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