You may not realize it, but when you lease a vehicle, you’re automatically accepting more responsibility than individuals who are looking to buy.
While you do get to benefit from lower monthly payments, the company you’re leasing from does expect you to return their vehicle in great shape, meaning it has to meet all the conditions spelled out in the agreement you signed.
This entails keeping the vehicle free of wear and tear through regular maintenance. With that said, the upkeep of a leased vehicle can be a hassle, not to mention how additional costs and fees can easily pile up. Fortunately, there are many ways to service your leased vehicle all while keeping costs down. Here is how you can do that.
Treat It Like A Rental – Because It Is!
When you’re driving your leased vehicle, you should treat it as a long-term rental because, in essence, that’s what it actually is. The company or dealership retains ownership of the vehicle and expects you to return it in pristine condition.
If you don’t, you could be looking at additional charges to cover the cost of upkeep, and based on the agreement you signed, those could be very expensive.
Now you should already be aware of the terms of your lease, so one key element to always look out for is an explicit definition of ‘excess wear and tear’. This way, you know exactly the condition in which the vehicle should be returned and what or what isn’t grounds for additional maintenance fees.
DIY Auto Service
You can service your leased vehicle yourself to keep maintenance and repair costs down. Start by checking the tires. With proper care, your tires should be in good condition after two to three years. Keep them inflated according to the correct pressure, rotate them periodically, and check that your vehicle isn’t pulling to one side over the other.
If it is, you can ask the company for a free alignment. In addition to that, make sure you check the oil too. Leased vehicles are often required to return to the company for periodic maintenance (which includes oil changes), so don’t skip any of those appointments. And don’t forget to wash and wax your vehicle to keep it looking polished and protect it from environmental damage.
Additionally you are responsible for losses and repairs related to a accident. Make sure you follow through with your leasing agent on the damage assessment and use a properly insured and bonded towing and roadside assistance company for the accident recovery to fully cover the accident assessment and vehicle recovery.
Keep Track of Your Mileage
Unlike what counts as wear and tear, there are no gray areas when it comes to mileage. So if you exceed the amount you initially agreed on, then you will be expected to pay the price to make up the difference. The typical cap can be anywhere from 15,000 to 18,000 miles per year.
But if you have a long commute or an inclination for impromptu road trips then you might want to take your lifestyle choices into account. It’s always better to negotiate more miles upfront, especially if you will be sharing the vehicle with other drivers, so you’re not hit with a penalty upon returning it.
Schedule Professional Maintenance For What You Can’t Cover
Now some servicing you won’t be able to do yourself as it will require a professional’s expertise. With that said, it’s important to get the vehicle serviced based on the manufacturer’s service schedule.
Even if you find a garage that offers free servicing, many lease companies and dealerships won’t recognize that servicing because it may not be conducted to the manufacturers’ standards.
If you mistakenly take it to get looked at by the wrong company, you could end up paying a lot more in the long run. So make sure to look into this before taking your car for professional maintenance.