Leasing a vehicle is a terrific option for many drivers. It lets you get into a new car with less money down and manageable payments that you otherwise wouldn’t get with a purchase. It’s also nice to be able to switch your car at the end of your agreement and upgrade to a newer model or get a completely different one.
On the other hand, just like a lease on an apartment, you never quite own the car until you decide to purchase it. In fact, you don’t own it until you’ve paid it off completely.
Whether you lease or finance a car as a purchase, you’ll need to have full insurance on it. But, with a lease, the dealership expects you to give the car back at the end of the agreement; and you better believe that they’re going to want it back in good condition.
So what happens if you damage your leased car? What types of damages are you responsible for, and will you have to pay for them?
Here’s what you should know about damages to leased vehicles and what steps you can take to avoid any surprises at the end.
The short answer is yes; you can return a car with some wear and tear and damage, but not for free. In the event the damage is severe, they will ask you to fix it at your expense.
One simple fact of life is that nothing is free, especially a car. Buyers often assume that if you continue leasing from the same dealership, they will be more lenient with imposing extra charges.
But, nothing can be further from the truth. Just because you continue doing business with the same dealer doesn’t mean they’ll let you off the hook for damages and wear and tear. They will find a way to impose those charges on your new lease agreement.
Different types of damages have different kinds of fees. The severity of each also determines how much you can expect to pay.
At the end of your agreement, the dealer will do a thorough inspection of your car. They will look at the amount of tread left on the tires. If they have less than an eighth of an inch of tread, you more than likely will have to pay for new tires, which can cost you anywhere between $500 – $700 for a set of four. You will either have to purchase them on your own or pay the dealer directly for the cost.
If your bumper has scrapes or paint scratches, make an appointment with a body shop. It’s highly unlikely the dealership will let you return a car with bumper damage. Depending on the type, make, and model, a standard bumper replacement can cost anywhere between $300 to over $1,000.
In many cases, your bumper damage might be under the amount of your insurance deductible. If this is the case, you are still better off handling bumper repair on your own before returning it to the dealer. At the very least, you can shop around and compare prices for body repair services.
A cracked windshield needs to get fixed. Glass replacement can range anywhere between $250 to $300. Even a minor chip or fractured piece of glass will require that you fix before returning your car. If you don’t repair glass damage, the dealership will take it into account and put it on your tab.
Most dealerships have a general rule when it comes to dents. If a dent is smaller than a quarter and requires no paint, you should have nothing to worry about. But, if it exceeds the accepted measurements, you should fix them. The good news is that dent repairs are relatively inexpensive to fix, costing anywhere between $50 to $120 for a 1-inch dent repair job.
Realistically, the dealership understands that even the best car owners will not be returning showroom quality vehicles. It’s normal to have some scratches on the body after some time.
In most cases, minor scratches shouldn’t incur any charges at all. On the other hand, curbed wheels are a different story. You will either have to get them repaired or pay the dealership. The cost of curbed wheel repair can cost between $65 to $400.
You will not be able to get into a lease agreement without having full coverage insurance. This requirement also applies to financed purchases. You will need to have more than the minimum liability insurance coverage.
In the event you get into a major accident, and your car is a total loss, your insurance company will be able to cover the cost of the vehicle. In most cases, insurance will include comprehensive and collision damage.
Lease agreements contain information about acceptable and non-acceptable types of damages, from scratches to windshields and everything in between. Get familiar with your agreement. Keep a record of the condition of your car as well as your maintenance records. You don’t want to be paying for damage that was already there.
Leasing is still a terrific option for many car owners. However, be mindful that you will have to take extra good care of your car. On top of maintenance and other costs, you also have to be aware of your yearly mileage allowance.
All these factors can seem like a put off for leasing a car, but in reality, most of us want our cars to look good and be in the best working condition anyway. Leasing just gives us that extra bit of discipline to treat our vehicles nicely while enjoying the benefits of paying less and upgrading to newer models every couple of years.
If you have a leased with damage, we can help before you return it back to the dealer! Be sure to contact us for an appointment.
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