It’s part of our car buyer’s glossary series to break all the prerequisites to find out if you’re buying a new or used car from a dealership.
No one wants to be hit with extra wear charges when returning a leased car, but this can happen if your car is damaged or has other problems by the end of the lease term.
So, what is the extra wear charge?
This is a charge that must be paid to the tenant for the renewal of the vehicle for any damage that goes beyond normal use. This means that you allow the car to show some wear and tear, but not more than what a manufacturer thinks is right.
How is the charge determined?
Sometime in the last three months of ownership, a lease inspection for your car will be conducted at your home or workplace. The inspection is mostly done by an independent company, not the manufacturer.
They are looking for different things, but mainly any kind of damage to the exterior or interior of the car. Dents, dings and scraps are all checked to determine the cost of repairs. Carb rashes, dented wheels, cracked or pitched windshields, and torn or stained interiors can also increase your charge.
One thing that many people overlook is tires. In some cases, at the end of a typical 36-month lease, tires may become out of date for the lease inspector to be considered normal – especially if the tires are incorrectly assembled and worn unevenly. Lease inspection usually includes a tire category, and if the tire is worn excessively, you will be charged for it.
Every little scratch will not be considered an extra wear item. Whether it is appropriate to charge the inspector to determine the depth and length of the damage to be measured. Toyota has a guide on what to consider for extra wear that can give you a rough idea of what the company considers when inspecting your car. Check it out here. Other companies may offer similar guidelines, so do an online search to determine if your car manufacturer has a similar reference.
What can I do to avoid this fee?
Stay well in your car. Knowing from the outset that at the end of a lease, an inspector will keep an eye on it and you should be encouraged to take extra precautions when looking for damages. And if something happens, fixing it up front (especially if your insurance covers it) can save you money later.
If you have to pay a hefty fee for a visit, there is still a chance to reduce it by requesting a second visit. Between the two inspections, the problem area is taken care of by a repair shop. There is no guarantee that the inspector will find all your corrections satisfactory, but you may be able to minimize the injury. In this case you only need to schedule a second visit before the lease expires.
If your tires are tired, it may be cheaper than taking a premium for the new tires you will be installing. And keep all your documents, books, extra keys and remotes with you when you buy the car – the dealer is probably going to ask for it all back when you give them the keys.
There are more stringent ways to avoid extra wear charges. Dealers may increase fees if you continue to do business with them as a stimulus. This can happen if you lease another car, extend your existing car lease or buy the car directly. All you can do to avoid this is to take care of the car. It is easier to pay less attention to a leased car because it is not technically yours, but in the end the money you save will be worth the effort.