Leasing a Vehicle – What You Need to Know
Leasing a vehicle is the same as leasing an apartment; you take possession of someone else’s property for a specified length of time, and return it at the end in a similar condition. But when leasing a car things can be much more subjective then leasing an apartment. For example: If you end an apartment lease with holes in the walls, obviously it’s not in the same condition. However, if you return a car with a very minor dent, is it still in the same condition? Wear and tear on a vehicle is much more obvious than on an apartment, and as such, what’s considered “normal wear and tear” is very subjective. Here are some quick tips for you to ensure that your lease is smooth from start to finish, and you don’t end up with any unexpected fees in the end!
Start Prepared and End Prepared
When you start your lease you need to be prepared! Make sure you have a safe place (a binder or duotang would be great, as this can travel with you) to put all of your lease paperwork. The more organized you are the easier it’ll be to deal with when your lease is up.
Bring Your Camera
Bring your camera with you the day you take possession of the car. Take pictures of the inside and outside of the car making sure to focus on things like the rims and the carpets. The more detailed you are, the better off you’ll be. Also, it may be helpful to take the pictures before you leave the lot, as then the person you are leasing from sees the images being shot.
Protect The Car
One of the best things you can do for yourself is to protect the car. This will prevent any damage or issues with the vehicle later on, ensuring less hassle in the end. Seat covers and plastic floor mats could be your best friends in this case!
Maintain the Car
Although I’ve stressed this many, many times, PLEASE MAINTAIN YOUR VEHICLES. If you’re leasing a car, it’s best to do all work and maintenance at the dealership (some dealers specify this in the lease terms), whereas others will let you take your car wherever you’d like. Wherever you decide to service your car, make sure you do it regularly (follow the manual) and keep all service records. If you’ve been paying attention, the service records should fit nicely into that binder we discussed earlier.
Now, when it comes time to hand the car back over, there are a few things you should take care of before returning the keys:
Have it serviced one last time
Whether the car is due for a service or not, give it a tune up. Make sure everything’s in tip top shape before it hits the curb at the dealership. If you’ve got any exterior damage (dents, scratches, etc.) have them repaired or at least get estimates before meeting with the dealership.
Have The Car Detailed
Get the car thoroughly cleaned, inside and out. Have them shampoo the carpets and make sure the car is spotless before checking in with your dealership. This will save hassle for both you and the dealership in the end.
Take the Car to the Dealership
When you show up at the dealership bring your service records and your lease start photos. Bring your camera as well and take the after lease photos while on the dealer’s lot to ensure that you are looking at it at the same condition as it was when it arrived at the dealers.
Once you’ve followed all these steps there shouldn’t be any issues. The main concern for dealers is that your car is taken care of, and provided you follow these steps you should have no issues ending your lease.