How to Turn In a Car At the End of Its Lease

5 strategies to save money at the end of a car lease

Jaguar XKE driving through the Petrified forest National Park, Arizona
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Time to turn in your car lease. Is it time to celebrate or time to worry? Turning in a lease can be stressful for many. Being anxious about owing a lot of money at the time you turn in the lease has some real merit. Going over your annual allotted mileage, damage beyond typical wear and tear and plain old overlooked maintenance can cost a whole lot more than you might expect. Preparing for the worst is the best way to come out ahead financially.

Make Your Inspection Early

All leased vehicles need to be inspected when the lease term is up. If you are worried about surprise expenses, stalling to get your inspection is definitely not a good idea. The sooner you know of any problems, the sooner you can deal with the situation. The moment you receive notification about your upcoming inspection, make the appointment and get it completed. 

Keep an Eye On Your Mileage

Any salesperson will tell you, mileage is important when it comes to a lease. It is a good idea to know how many miles you will drive at the time you purchase the vehicle, however, sometimes you do not predict accurately. As your lease nears, you have two options when it comes to mileage.

  • One is to limit your driving. Some people even go as far as parking the vehicle the final weeks to the lease term.
  • The other option is to pay up for miles over the allowed amount. Check your lease agreement to determine how much you will need to pay per mile over your agreed upon limit.

    Detail Your Car

    Getting your car detailed is an important and often overlooked part of turning in your leased car. You can easily hire someone to detail your vehicle, but I find you can do a great job on your own. In the past, I have been disappointed with the results after paying for my car to be detailed.

    That does not mean it is always going to be the case. However, with a few cleaning tips, you should be on your way to a like new vehicle.

    • Blow out the center counsel of the vehicle with compressed air.
    • Vacuum the entire vehicle out.
    • Wipe down all surface areas with a magic eraser.
    • Clean the windows.
    • Wash and wax exterior.
    • Do not forget to clean the tires and rims.

    Showing your vehicle off in the best light will help the dealer see its value. Show up with with a worn down vehicle and you could potentially end up owing more due to excessive wear and tear. Be sure to make your car looks as good as possible in order to save some cash.

    Leasing is a great option for many drivers. It gives buyers an alternative to high car payments. It allows buyers to get a new car every two or three years. Do not let the turn in process scare you away from a lease. Many people turn in their vehicles with no problem at all. Know what to expect and keep an eye on the problem areas. Mileage can greatly affect the cost, but again more miles means you lose value on a purchased vehicle too. Remember when there is additional wear and tear on your lease, you would also lose value had you were trying to sell a vehicle you bought outright.


    Make Repairs

    So you had your inspection and a couple things were pointed out. Maybe you forgot a small dent or scratch. Chipped windshields are also common. Look into filing a car insurance claim. Windshields are almost always worth filing. Get body shop estimates on other damage like dents and scratches. Consider filing a claim if the estimate is over your deductible. Taking care of damage on your own ahead of turning in your lease is a good idea. It can save you a lot of money in the long run. Right now is your chance to shop around for the best price for repairs or work with your insurance carrier. At the time you turn in your vehicle, you will be at the mercy of your lessor.

    Plan for Expenses

    Just because you are leasing a vehicle does not mean you can let regular maintenance go. Oil changes, worn down tires and brakes all need to be kept up.

    Keep records of all of your maintenance. Get new tires after two years so you can enjoy the benefits of driving and full tread in a three-year lease. It can be extremely frustrating to pay up for new tires at the end of your three-year lease without ever even getting to drive on them.

    Emergency funds are important for everyone! It is scary to think of all the people surviving with zero savings. Set some money aside just for turning in your lease. Driving a car is expensive. It really does not matter whether you lease your car, buy it and make payments on a loan, or buy it outright, it is never without expenses. It is a depreciating object that you will most likely never make money on. Expecting the extra expense and saving for it is your best option. Any money you do not need can be put toward your next car purchase.

    Save on Your Next Car Lease

    Turning in a car lease should be exciting. You are about to get a new car! You can learn a lot about car leases by going through the process first hand. Maybe your first least did not work out the best. Losing money on your first lease is a possibility, but it does not mean every lease has to be that way. Learning from your mistakes gives you the upper hand in your next purchase.

    • Buy from the same manufacturer. Most of the time you can receive good discounts for sticking with the same manufacturer as the last.
    • Choose the right mileage. Learn from your prior lease. Did you go over your limit? Did you pay for many more miles than what you used? 
    • Determine how long you want the lease. The length of a lease can impact your payments. Now that you have had a lease, it should be easier to make these types of decisions.

    Skip Turning In Your Lease and Buy It Instead

    Buying your lease is totally doable and often a reasonable deal. Determine what the residual value is also known as the purchase option price by looking through your lease agreement. Then do some checking on your own. Run some searches for vehicles (try Kelley Blue Book or Auto Trader) the same year, make, and model of your current vehicle. Compare the two to help you decide if purchasing this vehicle is a good idea.

    One thing is for sure, this is a sure-fire way to get the use out of those tires if you just recently purchased new ones. Many people choose to purchase their lease. Usually, it is a cut and dry process without much haggling. It is a good option if you do not have any foreseeable problems and you have been maintaining it properly. way to get the use out of those tires if you just recently purchased new ones. Many people choose to purchase their lease. Usually, it is a cut and dry process without much haggling. It is a good option if you do not have any foreseeable problems and you have been maintaining it properly.