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Don’t Get Burned By Lease Turn-In Fees

This is how to avoid unexpected lease turn-in fees.

Many of us choose to lease our vehicles for the monthly savings and because we enjoy having a new vehicle every few years. But it’s important to remember that we don’t actually own our leased vehicles – we are the caretakers. As caretakers, it is up to us to maintain the mechanical and aesthetic condition of the vehicle to avoid any expensive surprises when we return our vehicles.

The grocery store parking lot paint chip or dinged bumper from the crazy holiday shopping frenzy could end up costing you hundreds or thousands of dollars. It’s important that you know what wear and tear is worth fixing in advance, so you can safely avoid surprise fees.

Scheduled Maintenance

Keeping a written record of any standard car maintenance you have done so you can prove that you regularly changed the oil, checked fluid levels, rotated the tires, etc. This way, if you experience any engine or drivetrain problems you can prove that they aren’t your fault.

Repair Damaged Bumpers, Bald Tires, and Cracked Windshields

Without question, you will save money by fixing tires, windows, and bumpers yourself. If your tires have at least 1/8 inch of life left, you’ll probably be ok. Otherwise, it is in your best interest to replace them yourself.

A damaged bumper is a costly charge if you leave it for the leasing agency to fix. Fixing dislodged, dented, or gouged bumpers ahead of time will definitely save you money in the long run. Hold onto receipts for any repairs so you have full documentation.

Major cracks in the windshield not only leave the driver vulnerable to flying road debris, but it also leaves your checkbook wide open – not a great feeling. Windshield repairs are usually cheap and simple, so best to get that done ahead of time.

Pay Attention to Annual Mileage Limits

Most leases come with specific mileage limits. Typical allowances range from 15,000km to 30,000km, so it’s important to know exactly what you’re working with. Excess mileage penalties can be as high as 25 cents per kilometre, meaning that 10,000 extra kms could cost you $1,500.

Leasers generally let you buy extra mileage ahead of time for significantly less than the penalty fee. If you know you’ll be doing some serious driving, it’s a good idea to look into purchasing extra distance.

Try to Be Present For Your Inspection

In most cases, your dealership does not inspect the car upon return – instead, the leasing company will send a contractor to conduct the inspection. It doesn’t matter how much you trust your dealer because the inspection likely won’t be under their control.

Ask if you can schedule the inspection to be conducted at your home or place of work. If you are present for the walk-around, you have a better chance of gaining the sympathy of the inspector.

Minor Dings, Scratches, and Stains are OK… Maybe

This is where it pays to read the fine print of your lease agreement. If your lease agreement covers small scratches (the size that can be physically covered by a credit card), then it should be ok to leave these un-repaired.

Some companies won’t charge you for body panel dings that are less than four inches in diameter, but others will charge for any damage greater than one inch. Make sure you carefully read through the agreement, and fix any damage that isn’t covered immediately.

Consider Wear-and-Tear Insurance

Maybe you’re a little clumsy, or you have small children that are prone to spilling things. If so, it might be worth your while to buy wear-and-tear protection for your leased vehicle. Your leasing agency or dealership might offer wear-and-tear insurance that could protect you for up to $1,000, $3,000, or even $5,000 of damage.

Dealers are free to charge whatever they want for this insurance, so do your homework to avoid paying an unnecessary premium. These policies usually cost the dealer about $500.


Luggage compartment covers, spare tire covers, headrests, third-row seats… Make sure you return absolutely everything that came with your vehicle the day you picked it up when you give it back.

Follow these tips and your lease turn-in should go without surprises. If your vehicle is in need of any paint correction, ding repair, or small collision repair before handing it back to the dealer, just give us a shout.

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