COVID-19: Leasing and Suspending Finance Payments

March 31, 2020


1) I want relief from my car payments

The automaker financing companies that have policies in response to the COVID-19 public health measures have decided that payment suspension will be available on a case-by-case basis. Some lenders that are prepared to delay payments are not advertising the possibility. The APA has compiled a directory of  manufacturers and how to contact them for lease/loan questions.. Hyundai`s info related to suspension of payments was early and more transparent than most. Ford, Honda, Nissan have similar policies in place but the APA hasn`t seen a commitment specifically stating the customer`s credit history will not be impacted. Consumers in Quebec reported that some auto lenders impose substantial charges beyond interest to provide a temporary suspension of  payments, so that is something to watch out for. The APA is canvassing the brands for more information. Here are the criteria, generally, to suspend lease or finance payments:

The customer experienced an unforeseen change of financial situation through no fault of their own. Job loss is the obvious one (i.e. you work for an airline in the era of COVID-19)

  • A steady payer, not previously in arrears
  • No signs of a general meltdown in your personal finances (they may check with a credit reporting agency)
  • Up to 3, sometimes 4, months can be suspended and tacked on at the end of your financing term.
  • Hyundai has said specifically that your credit rating will not be affected
  • The policies don`t say it clearly, but the suspension of payments may attract additional interest charges due to the longer repayment period, which is understandable.


Do not miss a payment before speaking to the lender. It could hurt your credit rating, which may reduce your ability to get breaks from other lenders or recurring monthly services you currently subscribe to. Call ASAP, so the payment "holiday" can be arranged well before you`re due. If you`re late, you go into the "in trouble" file. You`ll likely still hold onto the vehicle (after all, nobody is available to pick it up) but you`ll have less leeway, and it could cost more than being proactive.


2) My lease is over but I don`t want to turn in my vehicle yet

One reason could be that you don`t want to shop for a new vehicle with physical distancing in effect. Another may be that uncertainty about the economy and your personal finances is making you skittish. Most leasing arms of the automakers already offer the opportunity to extend a lease relatively easily by 1-3 months -- sometimes longer in the event of an event beyond the control of the parties. Typical situations include a fire at the plant that assembles your next vehicle, long delays at the port of entry into Canada for your next vehicle, or a long backorder on an electric vehicle.

Contact the leasing arm of your automaker to ask to have the lease extended. This is something you will have to work out with the lessor before the lease is over. Make sure the automatic withdrawal of your lease payments will continue after the end of the current lease, and that your vehicle insurance is maintained. In many cases, only the term of the lease changes but the mileage allowance and lease end value are unchanged.


3) My lease is over, but there is nowhere to turn my vehicle in

This is an issue primarily for consumers in the Province of Quebec where dealerships are closed by government order at least until April 13. Write your lessor and let them know that your lease return date is up, but that it is not possible to return the vehicle as nobody is available to receive it. Include the following information in your notice:

  • Full Name (first and last, as it appears on your contract)
  • Full Address
  • Telephone Number
  • VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) and/or your contract number
  • Original selling dealership

Take an image of the odometer reading on the last day of the lease to include with your notice. Let the lessor know where the vehicle is being stored and that it is available for pickup or delivery. Stop the automatic withdrawal of payments, or you could be out a lease payment without realizing it. Maintain the vehicle`s insurance coverage.

Dealers in Ontario have imposed special procedures to impose physical distancing. Customers are received by appointment where possible, and interactions limited to the extent possible.


Damage appraisals at lease-end

AutoVin, the end-of-lease inspection service, suspended their lease pre-inspection service as of March 23. The final inspection after you turn in the vehicle is still being performed. Document all damage on the vehicle and make sure to include your summer rims and tires in the trunk or in the vehicle. This is the wrong time to go about fixing cosmetic damage on your vehicle, and many auto detailing and cometic repair services are closed. Photos may help in the event the vehicle incurs additional damage after you return it, or to bargain down the sometimes inflated damage appraisals from third-party inspection services.


If you have any questions or concerns that the APA can help you with, please reach out to us by email or by leaving us a voicemail message and we will get back to you.


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Examples from manufacturers (click to download PDF)



Related COVID-19 Articles 

June 3: Dealerships reopen after COVID-19 shutdown

April 26: Personal Automobile and Property Insurance

April 17: Expiring Warranties & Repairs

March 31: Leasing and Suspending Finance Payments

Directory of Manufacturer Contacts


 From Automotive News Canada:

Automakers want Ontario showrooms opened to deal with expiring leases

Facing an onslaught of customers returning leased vehicles, some automakers are calling on Ontario to reconsider rules forcing the closure of dealership showrooms during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our dealers are now dealing with record numbers of lease returns at our peak season and they are unable to process them,” Hyundai Canada CEO Don Romano wrote in an email. “Most customers are being told to call the financial companies and extend. Finance companies are overloaded and unable to manage the calls. Many customers don’t have incomes and can’t drive due to the stay-at-home requirements. Therefore, many customers simply want to return their cars, but they can’t.” Read More.