Don’t neglect maintenance on a leased vehicle
Leasing an automobile doesn't mean that you're not responsible for vehicle repairs. It’s a requirement of any standard auto lease agreement.
Auto leasing is the preferred ownership option for thousands of Canadian drivers, and most lessees understand the importance of maintaining their vehicles. It’s a requirement of any standard auto lease agreement.
Occasionally, however, some lessees neglect to perform the required maintenance on their vehicles, and it costs them money at the termination of their leases. They assume that it’s okay to ignore regular maintenance because they don’t actually own their vehicles, and this is wrong.
In addition to neglecting regular maintenance, lessees have been known to ignore safety recall notices from the manufacturer on their leased vehicle. That’s a problem.
If a recall notice to address a safety issue is sent out — such as a potential braking malfunction or a steering column mechanism — then car owners (whether they lease or own their vehicles) have an obligation to bring their vehicle to a dealership to have the defective parts fixed/replaced.
Failure to address safety-related recall issues in a timely manner puts drivers and other motorists at risk, not to mention the potential liability in the event of a collision.
Let’s take an example of a leased sedan with a four-year term. Throughout the lease, the lessee drives 96,000 kilometres and — other than a couple of oil changes and a tire rotation — almost no maintenance is performed on the vehicle.
In this scenario, at the termination of the lease, the lessee will be in for some unpleasant surprises. I’ve seen situations where vehicle neglect has caused excessive wear and tear, and the repair costs from maintenance avoidance has run into thousands of dollars.
Often, when lessees find themselves in this type of situation, they aren’t happy with the financial costs of terminating their lease. This type of situation is awkward for the customer and the dealership, and it can be avoided through regular maintenance and repair of the vehicle.
Some dealerships offer a separate product that can be purchased, which covers a large percentage of the end-of-lease charges (not including maintenance) at a nominal charge.
All standard auto lease agreements obligate lessees to maintain their vehicles to the manufacturer’s recommended specifications. Regular maintenance usually includes such things as changing the oil and filter, inspecting the brakes, belts and hoses, maintaining fluid levels, and tire rotation.
When you get to the end of the lease and it is determined that you must replace the tires, buy tires that are the right size (not too small) and with the correct speed rating. Often, lessees do not pay attention to this and end up with extra end-of-lease charges as a result.
Also, make sure that any bodywork/paintwork that must be done (for scratches and dents) is completed properly. I’ve seen some awful work performed that ends up costing the lessee double (they paid for the poor repairs and paid a second time to have it done properly).
New-car dealerships are the recommended repair facilities for all maintenance and repairs (including collision and vandalism-related damage); they are equipped with specialized training and the sophisticated tools to make any repairs.
Ultimately, it’s the lessee’s responsibility to maintain their vehicle. Leasing companies are sometimes willing to forgive normal wear and tear, but if a vehicle has been largely neglected throughout the term of the lease agreement, the dealership has little choice but to charge for the repairs.
If you’re driving a leased vehicle and it’s overdue for maintenance, make an appointment with the service department at your new-car dealer. It will save you a lot of time, money and aggravation.