When a Car Lease Ends

Odometer reading imageEnd of Lease Odometer Reading

What happens when a car lease ends? I will shed some light on the subject, but keep in mind that there are many variables involved on how the end of the lease will be handled.

The original lease contract will provide details on what is expected at the end of the term. As a former independent off lease inspector for several large leasing companies I have had the insight of seeing hundreds of leases through their final days.

My function was to inspect the vehicle to give both the customer and the company some current information on the true condition of the automobile. I would supply a detailed description and pictures to the company of any physical interior, exterior or powertrain damage.

I would also take a picture of the current miles and sign an odometer statement. Each lease company and their participating dealerships handle things differently.

One thing that I have learned is that if you're getting into another lease from the same company and/or dealership they are more likely to show leniency and may waive some penalties and fees to continue your customer loyalty.

3 Things a Lease Company Looks at

leased ford explorer imageLeased F-150 Pickup

There are some standard items that most lease companies pay a great deal of attention to. One of these things is the actual mileage that's put on the vehicle during the term. Most contracts I've seen stipulate a mileage limit.

When customers go over this they're charged a fee per mile or hundred miles. These charges can add up quickly and have become another profit center for the lease generator.

Don't be afraid of this, because often the overage charges can be negotiated if you're rolling into a new lease. Another big sticking point when a car lease ends is the physical condition of the vehicle. Most contracts stipulate that normal wear and tear is acceptable.

But in the real world sometimes vehicles will experience accidents, vandalism and overall damage that may be considered more than normal wear and tear. Most lease companies will perform a final inspection and provide the lease holder with a report.

The third item that many companies look for at the end of the car lease is the condition of the tires. Few people review these rules when they sign all the paperwork on initiation day. Let's use the basic three-year 36,000 mile lease as an example.

If the automobile still has the original equipment tires, chances are, they're very close to the end of their life. Most contracts include information about the condition of the tires when the car lease ends in the fine print area. However, all the companies I dealt with required 4/32 of tread remaining on all four tires.

Car Leasing Lessons Learned

In my experience one thing that I have learned is that nothing is set in stone. Even though the contract may give the legal advantage to the lease company in most cases they are willing to negotiate.

The reason for this is that leasing cars is a profitable business. They would like to retain the customer and continually put them in new vehicles every three years.

Some of the biggest horror stories I've heard over the years is when a customer severs all ties between the dealership and the lease company. If you decide to walk away the gloves come off. In my opinion this is viewed by the lease company as a customer lost for good.

If you decide to turn off the cash machine be ready to break-out the rule book. In this situation they are motivated to follow the contract to the letter and receive every penny they can to restore any damage to the car, truck or sport utility vehicle.

Car lease contracts can be extremely long and hard to read. Again in my opinion the most important information is about what happens when the car lease ends.

People entering a new lease should take some time to study the document. You can ask for copies and take them home and read them from a comfortable chair or have your lawyer review them before signing.

This next link takes you back to the main page about leasing cars. There you can read a few stories about what happens when a car lease ends.

Bookmark or share this page about lease contracts and leasing companies.

The homepage is up next and provides a good rundown of what other kinds of information is available on this automotive website. You can also find lots of answers to car questions.

People I know have had troubles with terminating a lease contract. In fact here is one story about a new car lease with a bad ending.