DOWN PAYMENT VS DRIVE OFFS VS DAS! Know the difference and avoid shady tactics!

Hello Lease Hackrs,

For those of you who are new to leases please make sure you are familiar with the differences between these three terms. Dealerships use the down payment loosely because they know most clients hear that and assume that is what they are paying out of pocket. Dealerships and brokers are notorious for advertising $0 down with a very attractive low monthly payment and not mention what the drive offs entail. They will usually have in fine print that state you must QUALIFY for a rebate, have a low mileage lease, and the offer is on a car that either is never in stock or a car nobody wants. (Usually a base stripped down model) So what is the difference between down payment and drive offs?

Here is an good analogy. When you finance a $100k home. You put a down payment (cap reduction) $30k to get the amount financed to $70k, which in term gives you a monthly payment of the $70k financed. However there are always escrow fees involved (drive offs on a lease) that you pay separately. Let’s say your share of the escrow fees are $2k which means your TOTAL DUE AT SIGNING is $32k to get to the financed amount of $70k.

To make things easy when shopping for a lease just ask for TOTAL DUE AT SIGNING or TOTAL OUT OF POCKET and what the monthly payment will be. This makes it very clear that you only paying that amount when you arrive and nothing more. This puts every dealership or broker at an even playing field and their monthly payment will reflect that. MAKE THEM QUOTE you total due at signing. The moment you see the term down payment make sure to correct them!

DEALERSHIPS CANNOT MARK UP DRIVE OFFS so don’t stress too much on the exact breakdown. Here is a good rule of thumb. 5% of the msrp should be your total due at signing and it will cover the drive offs and have a little left over as cap reduction. Hope this helps!


I don’t think this is good advice. A lease should have $0 cap cost reduction almost always. If your vehicle is totaled, GAP will cover the difference, but anything you paid upfront is lost.

The salesperson may think having no cap cost reduction is unusual, if he is not familiar with leasing, and give you pushback, but hopefully one of his colleagues or desk managers understands that the amount of the cap cost reduction coming from the customer has absolutely nothing to do with how much the dealership makes on the lease.

You can usually roll TTL into the lease as well, so your “due at signing” should be simply your first month’s payment and any MSDs you put down, if your leasing company offers such a program and you chose to take advantage of it.


His post was about explaining the differences, and you can always have a zero CCR or a 10k CCR.

And where did he say that TOTAL DUE AT SIGNING cannot be 0?

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I’d prefer that anyone new try to understand Leasing 101 and learn to negotiate “the hackr way” rather than just shop monthly and DAS.


Yes you would want the cap cost to come out to $0 in every lease. However, when you inquiry multiple dealerships via email and ask for the exact break down of all the numbers down to tee, your chances of success is very slim. Or it will require a lot of back of forth just to obtain those numbers. This makes it harder for you to shop around and your email and phone is flooding with spam. Asking for just DAS makes it a lot easier for you to compare deals and more importantly the response rate is MUCH higher.

If you go by the 5% rule for most luxury car the cap cost reduction is usually ~$200 after drive offs so you are not risking a lot in the event your car gets totaled. (btw not all manufactures come with gap insurance with leases. I believe Toyota is an option)

Here is an example I just did on a Q5 with MSRP $45,725. 5% of that is $2,286 and the actual total drive offs ended up being $2,231.32.

Maybe on mid $20k cars, you should go by 2-3% rule.


I think this is great information to add onto the wealth of information already found on here.
And it’s very refreshing seeing a dealer rep say this.

You’re right, I believe everyone should understand the concepts of a lease. But lease hackrs should not be too technical in the numbers when submitting a lead to multiple dealerships if ultimately you are just looking for a stellar deal.

Coming from someone who works at a dealership, colleagues often time just ignore these requests and never get back to clients for these 2 reasons.

  1. When a client wants specific MF, Residual, Drive offs, etc that salesperson automatically knows that client is only going to buy from the lowest dealership. Not all dealerships care about volume so if that salesman knows they are not a volume store. They would just ignore that request.

  2. Desk managers/ Sales manager hate giving that information out because of reason #1. They feel chances of making a sale for that client is slim to none and the response they give to the salesman is to just simply “bring them in.”

My whole point is to just make it easy on yourself and you’ll have a better chance getting the deal you want.


To clarify, I’m sure you mean $0 cap cost reduction paid by the customer. In cases where rebates/incentives more than cover the drive-offs, the remaining would be used as a CCR, which isn’t a bad thing.

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What do you suggest if a dealer give you everything you agree to the drive offs ie $880 then they state they forgot to include the amount due to registration? This happened when I went with a friend for a lease on a 3 series. We went to the dealership after he committed to sign the final paperwork and the salesperson was told and paid the $880 via a form to charge his credit card via email. When we got to the finance guy who was trying to upsell with wheel and tire etc. at the end he said I just need $400 and we are done. My friend gave the card and then I double checked the emailed I was CC on and it showed he had paid the original amount. He went to the salesperson and he was flustered and spoke with the finance manager. Apparently the finance manager had screwed up and left out a fee when doing the calculations. They wouldn’t budge when my friend just said take it out from other fees. He tried to play hardball, but then the finance guy walked out and sad I will shred your information since you didn’t complete the lease! In the end he paid the money, but I was pissed and the salesperson was very upset with the finance manger. What would have been the right thing to do?

Call his bluff and walk away if needed. Don’t reward scum tactics


To walk. But it’s personal choice.

Just walk. Finance don’t just “forget” fees. It is automatically calculated when you desk/load a deal. Just another shady sales tactics.

If you had it in writing along the lines of “total due at signing including drive offs” for the most part they must honor it because it is legally binding. If somehow they really forgot, then they will have to just discount the car even further for their own mistake.

I tried that by showing the last email that stated total due at signing then the $800 from the salesperson. I asked them to discount it they said it wouldn’t allow them to remove fees owed for taxes. They wouldn’t further lower the price on the car. He tried to call their bluff but unfortunately it was too good of a deal. The salesperson seemed honest the finance manager did not.

These were parts of the last emails before the pickup.

“This car has a slightly higher MSRP at $53,710, but what if I could do the same deal on this car? $800 up front, $538 a month for 36 months and 10k miles per year.” Then he sent a email once I tried to push him a bit lower, but I accepted the following:

“First I need to let you know that I do not have a true sign and drive program right now where I can do the deal with no money out of pocket so with this deal, the least that I could do for money due at signing would be the first month payment and the DMV fees which comes to $800.” Then I agreed. “The good news is that if you would be prepared to pay the $800 up front I can do the lease on my car for the $538 and10k miles per year. If this would be a deal, I can write it up and take the car off the market today. I know I was not able to lower the monthly payment, but I still think this is a great deal for the car I have.”

The payment of 800 and 538 was supposed to include taxes and all fees except those that were due upfront being the $800.

It was for this 2018 330xi? You should have walked.

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Why hide behind “friend” and keep switching between “he” and “I”? @Jon showed you your deal.

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I did it for my friend. I was the one who negotiated with the dealer. Dealer only met him at the signing with final paperwork. My friend forwarded me all the info the dealer requested to complete a credit check and for the due at signing. I take responsibility for my screw up of not suggesting walking. I was with him at the signing, that is when things went bad and we went from $800 to 1179.

Ok, but I don’t buy it. Sorry.

Same exact experience on my recent Volvo lease.
The deal agreed over previous conversations/emails was $335 a month and $335 due at signing.
When I went to dealership for signing, it was like… Oops…! Somehow sales person “forgot” to add the registration and they asked for extra $360.

It was an hour drive for me I went with all family members. So I said, I have invested so much time on this that instead of haggling over $360 I can sign $340 a month instead of $335 but that’s pretty much it.
To my surprise sales manager said no, they can’t budge. So I said thanks and started walking out then sales person came rushing at the door and said sales manager agreed for $340.

I exactly knew what was going on but I was too tired and was ready to sign at $340 anyways. So I did.

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I think in these scenarios I’d say to the dealer, "we have three options:

  1. I can leave now, but we don’t want that… or we can
  2. Print out the contract and go through it line by line, I wouldn’t want you to forget anything else… or
  3. You can just “fix it” and we can all be on our way!
    Your choice!"

Write a review on their social media page and tell others what happened. Very shady sales tactic but I still see it happen all the time. When a client informs me they got an outrageous deal, I am almost 100% certain that that dealership is not fully disclosing the numbers until they arrive. All dealerships purchase their cars at the same price from the manufacturer. There is always a line we rarely cross because that really puts the deal in the red.

By the time they are in f&i and get the bad news, they are so heavily invested that they usually just agree to “bump” since it ends up being the same deal they would’ve otherwise gotten from another dealership who was being transparent in the first place.

Some dealerships still practice this because unfortunately it still works…