Leasing a car can save you money on monthly payments, but it can also cost you money under certain circumstances. The key is making sure you comply with the contract to the letter. Overlooking certain aspects of a lease agreement can get rather expensive for you quite quickly.
Here’s how to save on lease turn-in fees.
Have the Inspector Come to You
A pre-return inspection is mandatory at the end of your lease. While you might be tempted to take the vehicle to the dealership from which you’ll acquire your next automobile, having an inspector come to your home or place of business is a smarter play. Dealership inspections tend to be more rigorous. Getting the inspector on your turf makes it easier to plead your case in instances that might be left to the inspector’s discretion.
Undo Any Customizations
If you changed the road wheels or steering wheel, lowered the ride height (or raised it), modified the engine or tinted the windows, you’ll be required to return them to the state in which they were when you acquired the car. While it’s OK to make the car your own while it is in your possession, the leasing company will want it returned to its stock appearance to make it easier to sell as a used car. You’ll be charged for any such efforts that must be carried out by the company.
Stay on Top of Maintenance
Every new car comes with a book within which the service department places stamps as required maintenance services are performed. Make sure the book gets stamped and goes back with the car. Keep the receipts, too. Yes, they can just check a computer to see if it was done, but it never hurts to have additional proof. This will also be in your favor should the car experience a mechanical issue during the term of your lease and you need to file a warranty claim.
Understand What Constitutes Normal Wear and Tear
Door dings, a minor scratch on the hood or upholstery stains typically fall into the category of normal wear and tear. However, heavily scratched bumpers, cracked or broken windshields, and severely worn tires will be counted against you as being excessive. Malfunctioning features such as power windows, audio systems and the like will also trigger costs if the warranty is expired. This can make even the best lease deals more costly. It’s best to take care of these items on your own, as you can usually get them straightened out for less money than will be assessed against you at the dealership.
Consider Purchasing Wear-and-Tear Insurance
Got kids? Drive in harsh environments on a regular basis? Cleaning cars isn’t your thing? Wear-and-tear insurance could save you money on lease turn-in fees. Most leasing companies offer it for a nominal fee. If you can’t get it that way, ask your regular insurer if they will sell you such a policy. Yes, dealerships offer it too, but you’ll pay a markup over the actual cost to get it.
Mind the Mileage — Seriously
This one gets most people in trouble. Every lease is capped at a certain number of miles you’ll be allowed to drive during the term of the contract. It falls between 10,000 and 12,000 miles annually in most cases. Exceeding these limits will incur additional charges. Negotiate them upfront if you think you’re going to drive more miles than the contract allows. It’s less costly to build them into the lease than it is to pay for them on the back end.
Lease Another Car of the Same Make
Manufacturers will cover some of the turn-in fees if you buy another car from them, even if it’s different model. As long as it’s the same brand, or anther brand under their corporate umbrella, you’ll be golden.
These tips for how to save on lease turn-in fees will help you maintain the financial advantage leasing affords.