What happens at the end of the new car lease?

By: Mark R Gittelman
On the day the new car lease is over it is time to take the lease vehicle back to the dealership. At this point you can either go into another new car lease or just walk away. But in either case the lease vehicle will be inspected and this can get tricky. Each dealer handles the lease return differently.

Some dealerships just say thank you very much and let the lease company handle the post lease inspection including contact, negotiation and billing for required repairs to the lease vehicle. You will also find that some dealerships will perform the off lease vehicle inspection and report to you directly.

What will they report on you ask. The new car lease contract stated you would be responsible for any damage to the vehicle that was considered above and beyond normal wear and tear.

This statement alone (that you signed off on) is very ambiguous and open to interpretation. What is normal wear and tear? Again this will be different between individual new car lease companies.

In my experience the lease vehicle provider will let you slide on a few minor nicks and scratches. But will charge you full retail price for repairs such as body damage and vandalism damage.

This is why you would want to prepare the lease vehicle for turn in before the off lease inspection occurs. You can fix the car cheaper on your own by shopping around for the best prices on the needed repairs.

When the new car lease company’s saw their customers upset to the point of refusing to lease a vehicle again they developed a strategy to assist on the new car lease turn in procedure.

Some company’s started providing a free inspection a month before the end of the new car lease contract.

This helped prepare the consumer of what to expect. This is where I came in. I worked for BMW North America as an independent contractor and performed these free inspections.

I was paid to go out to the lease vehicle and educate the consumer on what they would be charged for on turn in. What I found was most of these people never read their new car lease contract and where not ready for what was to come.

I would point out chargeable damage on the lease vehicle and provide helpful instructions for the repair of the deficiencies. The new car lease company paid for this service in full.

As a Side note you have to remember that the leasing company has planed to resell the lease vehicle in question as a low mileage perfect looking vehicle. This sale brings top dollar resale values and is how the company makes multiple incomes from just one unit.

First they made money on the new car lease and the required repairs to return the car to top-notch condition. Then they make money on the resale of the vehicle. This double profit system is why they are in this business.

If bad things happened to this car while you owned it you will have to pay for the restoration of the unit.

As far as the BMW inspection procedure the company had me take digital pictures of the damage and also the current odometer reading and VIN plate to assure they where in the loop about the current condition of the lease vehicle.

I would also perform a complete mechanical inspection and forward the results to the company. The inspection was very thorough and often the vehicle would require tires to be replaced.

BMW required 4/32 of tread or more to be on the tires at the time of turn in. Tires can be expensive on some vehicles.

Most people did not like the inspection procedure even though I was there to help them. For many this was the first time they could actually see the costs involved with leasing the vehicle and having to return the car or truck for resale.

It is human nature to get attached to your car. And to have someone point out its deficencies can be unsettling. My advice is to obtain a written guideline for what is required at the end of the new car lease contract.

Take the required steps and repair the lease vehicle yourself as opposed to letting the company do it for top retail prices. You can save hundreds of dollars buy doing it yourself. I hope this sheds some light on the end of the new car lease turn in procedure and that your lease vehicles turn in goes smoothly.

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