The process of returning a leased vehicle can result in unwanted surprises. If there is more wear than the leasing company deems “normal wear” in any part of the car, there will probably be corresponding charges to correct any problems.
Most drivers are aware of mileage limits and expect a per mile charge if mileage exceeds the expected level. Similarly, the return of a leased car in need of cosmetic body repair beyond what the leasing company allows can be a rude awakening for drivers.
Since the leasing company is really just a finance company, you can expect to be charged handsomely for them to handle the logistics and markup on the cost of any repairs. Each leasing company and car company has their distinct set of standards. For example, some car manufacturers providing customer financing offer allowances for some minor damage they deem “normal wear and tear” over the term of the lease. Honda for instance, has provided up to $1500 of allowances for their particular definition of what “wear and tear” means.
The details matter, however. For instance, the $1500 Honda allowance can only be the aggregate total of three different needed repairs with the value of $500 or less for each. Any paint repair or body shop type repair that costs more than $500 is not covered under the allowance and is the sole responsibility of the lessee – you. Ask yourself, have you ever been to an auto body shop where their estimate was less than $500? Understanding any damage not considered ‘normal wear and tear’ by your lease company can save you money and headaches.
Normal Wear and Tear For Leased Car
This will vary between car manufacturers, leasing companies and inspectors. The inspection and what is chargeable versus non chargeable damage is often a combination subjective judgment of the inspector using the specific language within the lease contract. Honda, Toyota, Ford, BMW, Mercedes, Chevrolet, – or whoever is the leasing company will all have their own rules.
For example, a cut up to a quarter inch in a seat cover is acceptable by Ford standards, but may not be by Subaru. A common quarter size door ding may be acceptable wear and tear except if the inside depth is overly stretched. The difference is whether it requires an inexpensive paintless dent repair versus a regular auto body repair and refinishing. Stretched metal generally requires a traditional auto body repair and refinishing which can raise the price from eighty dollars in one case to eight hundred dollars in another.
A general rule of thumb to apply when evaluating the outside of a leased vehicle is to use the “credit card” rule. It goes like this – if you can completely hide a scratch or dent on a single panel by covering it with a common credit card, the damage could be considered normal wear and tear. If the combined length of all scratches, chips, dings, dents, cracks is longer than a credit card, it will most likely be considered excessive damage and chargeable.
Damage To Look For In Your Lease Car Inspection
Below are a few items and areas to review with AutoColor or another third party so repairs can be done prior to returning your leased vehicle. It’s always best to have your lease company’s specifications with you when you have your pre-inspection done.
- Exterior Body Panels Including dings, dents, scratches, paint chips (excluding holes) *
- Glass damage is chargeable in most situations. Chipped windshields with heating elements may be repaired – other chipped or cracked windshields may require compete replacement.*
- Wheels – often time smaller scratches and gouges are allowed. Check with your lease company.*
- Interior Burn Holes – can be deceiving because the burn holes allowed are often larger than the 1/8” many lease companies allow*.
- Interior Cuts & Tears – also can be an issue if a cut is over ½” long*
- Interior Permanent Stains can be a problem if they are over ½” long*
- Tires – it is important to have no sidewall damage or plug patches. There should be no exposed cords or belts and must be appropriate size/rating for the vehicle*
- Lenses – usually there is no charge for scratches and scuffs of headlights, taillights or markers.*
*NOTE – each leasing company has its own set of criteria as to normal and excessive use. Prior to having a lease car inspection done at AutoColor or any reputable repair facility, be sure you have the specifications from your lease company with you as a reference.
Auto Color – Lease Car Inspection AND Repair Experts
AutoColor is the perfect partner to work with in correcting excessive wear issues. We specialize in repairing all of the minor collisions, scratches, dings and dents potentially classifying as excessive wear relative to vehicle lease returns. Click the following to learn more about how AutoColor can help you save money with your lease returns –
AutoColor of Madison & Middleton is uniquely prepared to make vehicle lease returns less costly for drivers. Give us a call at 608-831-9554