I don’t believe in leasing. Instead, I like to buy cars that last for years and drive them into the ground. My 1998 Toyota Sienna minivan is still going strong.
Still, I know that leasing has its attractions. You can trade in your car before the manufacturer’s warranty runs out and get something newer and nicer. And you don’t have to pay the sales tax up front, since you pay it as you go each month.
But danger may lie in wait when you surrender a leased car to the dealer. You could get a $3,600 bill for excess wear and tear, as Neil Rau did with his leased Mini Cooper. It was a real shocker, he told me.
It’s not unusual to get dinged for damage if you don’t return a leased car in mint condition. So, you should identify the repairs that need to be done and do them yourself.
The leasing company will make you pay prices far in excess of what you would pay on your own. For example, Dr. Rau ended up with a $1,500 bill for four tires.
The Mini dealer said they were special tires that could go for 100 kilometres or more when they were flat. Even so, that’s a mighty expensive set of wheels.
Why did he have to pay for new tires at all? After 56,000 kilometres of driving, “you would expect the tires would normally be at the end of their life. This seems to be a misinterpretation of ‘excess’ wear and tear,” a reader said.
Maybe it’s better to keep the car when the lease ends. If so, does anyone have any tips on negotiating a buyout?
I’m posting a few stories about bad experiences with end-of-lease charges.