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9 Ways to Avoid Damage Charges at the End of Your Lease

We all know leasing can be a great alternative to purchasing vehicles for your fleet or for yourself. You get a fixed payment (usually lower than a loan), you don’t need to worry about depreciation, and you don’t have to worry about an ageing fleet, because your vehicles turn every few years.

BUT….there is something that frightens everyone a little bit. When the lease is up, the vehicle gets inspected and you get nailed for damage charges. That part is really expensive and seems like a waste of money. It is a waste! Here are some ways to avoid paying unnecessary damage charges.

1. MILEAGE –

Most leases have a set amount of miles you can put on during the lease term. You might get a 3 year, 30,000 mile lease, a 3 year, 39,000 mile lease, or a 2 year, 20,000 mile lease. The point is, if you go over the allotted miles, you’re going to pay for them. US Bank charges $0.25 for every mile over. If it looks like you’re going to go over your allotted miles, it is better to contact your leasing company and purchase more miles, if this option is available. This can be done for substantially less than paying the overage fee.

2. TIRES –

Your leasing company is going to inspect the condition of your tires. Normal maintenance will ensure that your tires are in good condition when you take your vehicle back. Chrysler Capital considers tires to be in acceptable condition as long as they have 4/32″ of tread left. If your tires have less tread than this, it is going to be cheaper to replace them yourself rather than pay the leasing company to do it.

3. PAINT –

If something does happen to your vehicle where the exterior is damaged, have a reputable body shop do the repairs. Your leasing company is going to notice if you try to cover the damages with some Rust-Oleum! Most companies consider damages under 2″ in diameter or less than $100 to fix as normal wear.

That’s considered excissive wear, I think.

4. GLASS –

Any chips or cracks over 1/2″ are considered excessive. Your auto insurance probably covers glass, so it’s a lot better to get this fixed before the inspector sees it.

5. MODIFICATIONS –

Most leasing companies consider modifications to the suspension and engine unacceptable. Usually, any lettering, wraps, or tinted glass is also going to get you in trouble. If you’ve modified your vehicle after you received it, its a good idea to take the time to get it back to stock before you turn it in.

6. FACTORY ACCESSORIES –

If your vehicle came with accessories like a cargo net, luggage rack, or multiple key fobs, make sure that they’re all with the vehicle when it goes back. Unless you want a really expensive cargo net or luggage rack. In that case, keep em.

7. AFTERMARKET ACCESSORIES –

If you’ve installed any aftermarket accessories like wheels, tires, and lights, they must be of equal or greater quality than the factory ones. If you’re not sure, it’s best to replace the factory parts before the vehicle goes back. You don’t really want to buy the factory parts – you took them off for a reason!

8. INTERIOR –

The interior is really easy to get dinged on. It is also the easiest to prevent damages on. If you’ve got stains, burns, rips, or cuts over 1/2″, they’re going to have to replace the interior and you’re going to pay for it. You can pay a detailing company to get rid of most stains, but they can’t help you with the tears. It’s best to prevent the damage before it every happens. Seat covers are the best way to make sure that the damage doesn’t happen. TigerTough seat covers fit your seats like a second skin so your truck looks good (and so does your wallet).

9. INSPECTION –

The leasing company is going to send an inspector to the dealership to make sure that your vehicle meets their specifications for normal/excessive wear. The vehicle is inspected and assessed to the lessor’s discretion, so it’s best to be present during this inspection to make sure that their report is fair and you can answer any questions they have.

Ally Auto has a really great tool for making sure that your vehicle is up to par before returning it – check it out here.