When should I start looking for my new vehicle? What are the lead times?

We look at what lead times are, and when you should start looking for your new vehicle...

Depending on which finance scheme you choose, when you have a lease car, you may have to give it back at the end of the contract, that’s how leasing works. Which means that, at some point during your contract, you will have to start looking for a new vehicle.

But, when should you start looking for a new vehicle?

In this article, we look at when you should start looking for a new vehicle, what lead times are and how long the process can take. We also look at what happens when your old car goes back, so you are fully prepared when the time comes.

When should I start looking for a new vehicle?

If you have leased your vehicle through OSV, then your Account Manager will contact you around six months before your car is due to go back.

We recommend that you start looking around this time as it then gives you plenty of time to arrange a new vehicle before your car has to go back. The time will come around quickly, so it’s  better to do it sooner rather than later, otherwise you could find yourself without a car (we talk about that scenario further in the article).

As you would have already learnt, there is a process to leasing and this can take some time. Therefore, it is always a good idea to be as organised as possible and arrange a new car before your contract is up.

What is a lead time?

The definition of a lead time is;

‘The time between the initiation and completion of a production process’

In terms of leasing, lead time means the amount of time it takes from placing the order to it being delivered from the supplying Dealer.

The lead time varies depending on the manufacturer and the model as well as other factors.

What affects lead time?

There are a few things that affect the lead time of a car. These include;

The demand for the vehicle

Some new models spark more interest and excitement than others. If the demand is high for the vehicle you want, then there could be a waiting list which can naturally affect the lead time.

Order cycles

If your vehicle is not yet on the forecourts, then this will impact the lead time. If you have ordered a car that is not yet on the forecourts then you will have to wait until the official release date of the model. Take a look at the models that are coming out this year here.

green cars parked in a line on the pavement

If the car is in stock

If there is a stock allocation of a particular model then we can often get the car delivered to you sooner than the cars that have yet to be built.

The time of the year

There might be additional lead times placed on certain models. This can be the case if a manufacturer is mid-way through developing another model or a model is getting a face-lift or an update.

How accurate is lead time?

The lead time is only an estimate, but it is a good estimate at that. That said, we cannot control the manufacturer lead times, and sometimes this can take longer than estimated. Lead times can be anything from two to three months to a couple of weeks, but it can be longer for more specialised models.

car on the assembly line with orange robots sparking in the for front

This is why we do not give you an exact delivery date when you order a vehicle, we can only give you an estimate. There may be delays that are out of our control and you can understand that we do not want to make a promise we cannot keep. This is why we don’t promise a delivery date, you can read more about that here.

That said, every care is taken to deliver the vehicles as close to the delivery lead time as possible, but for some makes and models this can take up to six months. It is possible that it will take longer, but you can read more about why your car might be delayed here.

If your car is delayed, then we will keep you updated as to why and where the car is. We will also help you make other arrangements if needed.

How can I get a quicker lead time?

If you want a quicker delivery, then you could choose a model that is already in stock. Lead times are much shorter on in-stock models because they’ve already been built and they might have already been pre-registered. You can read more about the difference between a factory order and a stock car here.

What happens at the end of my lease contract?

So you’ve arranged your new car, now you just have to get rid of your current lease car.

What happens at the end of your lease contract depends on the finance house. Some finance houses will contact you and arrange for your car to be collected, others will leave it up to you to arrange for your car to be collected. You will still carry on paying and racking up the miles, so it’s best to know when your car is going to go back so you can arrange it in advance.

An auction house will pick up your car and inspect it for any damage. This will either happen a week or so before the collection of your car or on the day of collection. An advantage of the car being inspected a week before is that they will tell you if there’s any damage you need to get fixed. You then have a week to get it fixed before it goes back, avoiding any unwelcome invoices later down the line. However, if you do not have a week, then you will have to ensure that your car is fully prepared for inspection. You can find out more about that here.

man inspecting a car with a clipboard

What do I do if my new vehicle hasn’t been delivered and my lease car is due to go back?

In the event that your new car has yet to be delivered and your current lease car is due to go back, then don’t panic. It can happen, and finance houses are familiar with this scenario.

Some finance houses will allow you to extend your lease contract no problem and others won’t. In the event that they do not let you extend your lease contract, we would advise you to take a look at a short term rental. Other finance houses will allow you to extend your lease contract but on a more formal basis and it might be at a different price.

You can read more about extending your lease contract here.

As we said, don’t panic, there is a solution.

In conclusion, you should start looking for a new car around six months before your lease contract is due to end. This gives you plenty of time to go through the leasing process and get your vehicle ordered before your contract is up. The lead time is how long it takes to place the order to delivery. There are many things that affect lead time including whether the car is high demand and the time of the year. You can read more about what affects delivery date here. If you want a quicker lead time, then we would advise you to look at a vehicle that is already in stock, as they have shorter lead times. However, in the event that your car is delayed, you may be allowed to extend your current lease car until your new car is ready for delivery. Hopefully this has cleared a few things up about when to start looking for a new car and what a lead time is, as well as what happens when your current contract is up.

Been promised a delivery date? Click here to find out why your broker should not promise you a delivery date.
Rachel Richardson

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