Lease Wear and Tear
When it comes to car buying you want to work with people you can trust, so here at TriState Auto Champs we are breaking down the car buying process one blog at a time. Today we will be going over the end of lease processes and what you can do to avoid those pesky turn-in charges.
You’ve leased a car and soon you’ll be returning it to the dealership. After driving a car for three years, it is almost certainly going to have some signs of wear. Whether you suffered light dinging from mall parking lots or upholstery stains from a fidgety friend, these little imperfections can cost you. The leasing company charges for any damage they deem greater than normal wear and tear but this phrase in itself can be confusing. What you may regard as normal wear the manufacturer may consider excess. What’s most important for you as the leaser is to understand the inspection process.
Sometime around the last 90 days of your lease, the leasing company will contact you to remind you the contract is coming to an end. They will also schedule an appointment for your car inspection. Often the dealership or leasing agency hires a third-party inspector to go over your vehicle thoroughly and report any signs of excess wear and tear. This inspector can mean the difference between leaving the dealership happy or walking away with thousands of additional fees on a car you don’t even drive anymore. There is no way to trick this inspector, but you can present the best version of your leased car. This inspector will usually come to your home or office and spend about 45 minutes going over every inch of your vehicle.
The inspector will look for signs of wear in the following categories: Mechanical problems, Dents, Dings, Scratches, Scraps, Crack or Pitting on windows, Tire wear, Tears or stains to upholstery. Inspectors will record any and all signs of wear. This may include measuring scratches and taking photos of the damage. This information is input into a computerized template that estimates repair costs. A condition report detailing the inspector’s finding is given to you and the dealer with the calculated cost of repair.
Many manufacturers will provide specific information about the end-of-lease process and their definition of wear and tear on their website. It is your job as a responsible car owner to visit this website and do an inspection on your car before the inspector arrives. Many manufacturers aim to be reasonable when it comes to damages. Inspectors typically only look for dents larger than a credit card and deep scratches. Washing and detailing your car before the inspector visits can help to present your vehicle in the best light possible. This will also help make any problem areas more obvious to you before the inspector comes, giving you time to treat them.
Even if the inspection didn’t go as well as hoped, if you planned ahead there should still be time before you turn the car in to fix any damages yourself. An outside professional can easily repair small dents that haven’t broken the paint. It’s estimated that these professionals charge one-third of what the dealership charges for the same service. The same can be done for any damages to the windows and upholstery. After the repairs are complete reach out to the dealership to schedule a second inspection to verify the repairs were completed to industry standard.
On the day of the actual return, the car must arrive as it left, with all additional accouterment, especially spare tires, extra seats, the second set of keys, original floor mats, etc. These accessories are often useless without the car and costly to replace when forgotten or lost. Another thing to consider is replacing the tires. Again, the dealership/leasing agent charges more to replace these things than a third party dealer. If you replace your tires the second year of your three-year lease, you will get the benefit of new tires while also avoiding the charge for excess wear.
Remember if you are starting a new lease with the same manufacturer you had your original agreement with, you have a little bargaining power. Manufacturers will often reduce penalty fees by a several hundred if you agree to get your next vehicle with them. Should you need more time to fix repairs or choose your next car there is always the option of a lease extension.
Using TriState Auto Champs you will skip the headache. The professionals at TriState know how to negotiate your lease turn in; finishing the process well before your lease is up, avoiding the long procedure and associated fees. Often time, a TriState Auto Champs Customer Advocate can negotiate a dealer to buy your vehicle out of your lease early. Not only do you avoid the lease turn in process entirely, but your old lease is now used to roll equity into your new one lowering your costs. Ending a lease and beginning a new one doesn’t have to be stressful with TriState Auto Champs in your corner. For more information about making the most out of your lease, reach out today.