If you have a lease on your car, truck, van or SUV, and it is about to expire…now what? Do you return the car to the lessor and walk away, or do you pay the 'buyout' value and purchase it outright? Or should you simply re-extend the lease, or trade it in against a new lease?
If there are less than 90 days left on your lease, here are five things to do before your lease is up:
1. Clean the Car
Regardless of whether you plan to return, re-lease, or purchase the car, now's the time to give it a complete cleaning, both inside and out. Remember, it's not actually your car - it belongs to the lessor, so the cleaner it is when you bring it in for the lease-end inspection, the less chance you'll be charged any fees for cleaning.
Start by removing any personal items like sunglasses, car seats, and emergency gear. Don't forget to check the stereo for CDs!
2. Locate The Spare Keys
Leased vehicles are normally delivered with two sets of keys, which means that you'll be expected to return both sets when you turn the car in, otherwise, you'll be on the hook for an electronic key fob that can cost anywhere between $200-$500.
3. Inspect For Damage
While most leases protect drivers against charges for regular 'wear and tear', leaseholders are ultimately responsible for any problems that require repair or replacement, such as cracks in the windshield; holes and/or tears in the upholstery; dents and scratches; and excessive wear on the tires.
4. Check Your Mileage
As soon as you receive your lease return notice, take a look at the mileage on your vehicle. Exceeding the miles you negotiated in your lease can be costly, so if you're coming close to the maximum mileage, keep a close eye on how many miles you log between now and your lease turn-in date.
The per-mile penalty can be as much as $0.25 per mile, which for some people can be a deciding factor in whether or not they should simply pay the excess mileage penalties, or purchase the leased vehicle outright. You can use this online calculator to project what your lease-end mileage charge will be.
5. Explore Your Options
Now's the time to contact your dealer to ask about special incentives for returning lease customers. Here at Miller Auto, our team of non-commissioned salespeople can help you decide whether you should continue to lease a vehicle, buy out your lease, or purchase a different new or pre-owned car, truck or SUV.
The Return Process, Made Simple
Even if you've only leased your current vehicle for 36 months or less, you might be pleasantly surprised at all the new features and options that are now available on the latest models from Buick, GMC, Lincoln, and Nissan.
By following this list of things to do before your lease is up, you can look forward to a smooth, simple lease return process.