Many of us have a leased vehicle and will need to return the car at the end of the contract back to the leasing company. Sounds pretty simple until you read the fine print of the contract and realize you may be liable for excess wear and damage on the vehicle. What you think are small scratches, scrapes, blemishes and dings might add up to hundreds or even a thousand dollars if you brought your car to a auto repair shop to have them fixed. There are a few things to do in advance of your contract ending that could save you from a serious and unexpected bill.
1. Read your contract! What does it permit for small dents, scuffed bumpers, and curbed wheels, in other words, excess wear and tear? What sizes are tolerable? What amount are you allowed? What is the threshold figure?
2. If you have questions call your leasing agency well in advance of your contract termination date. Ask how much you will be charged if the damage is not repaired. Some lease companies might even permit you to e-mail them pictures.
3. Does your lease company conduct vehicle inspections to an Industry Standard or do they have their own variation, and can they provide you with a copy?
4. Would they provide you with the option of a pre-inspection which will tell you what you may be charged for and so give you an chance to repair the problems on your own?
5. Does the lease company require you to have the car cleaned/detailed before it’s returned?
Lease companies are generally very helpful when it comes to returning their cars, so you needn’t be afraid to call their Helpline for advice.
What to do next
Whether your lease company provides you with a pre-inspection report or not, you must do a complete inspection yourself. Search for anything that is both obvious and not so obvious that you might get charged for. Unless the damage is significant it is likely you will be able to perform the fix yourself by using one of the many products available on the market. All you have to do is determine the type of damage you have and use the internet to find a suitable product to help repair the damage. By doing this you can avoid the high cost charged by professional auto repair companies, thus saving up to $1000.