When your leasing contract is up and it’s time to turn the car in, there are smart ways to accomplish this and then there are those that result in you paying more than you should in charges and penalties. Why not be smart and avoid unnecessary expense and headaches? Here are three ways to streamline the car lease return process that will help you do just that.

Know what’s involved ahead of time. – Before your lease contract is up, you will get a letter in the mail from the leasing institution detailing exactly what you need to do to return your car. The document will also list your other options, such as buying the car outright at the agreed-upon price in your original lease contract. If you have any questions, there’s a number you can call to get them answered. Don’t wait until the last minute on this. If you want things to go smoothly on the return, plan ahead.

Go over your leased car with a keen eye. – Normal wear and tear won’t cost you, but dents, dings, deep scratches, stains and worn tires definitely will, along with other types of damage. If your leased car looks like you lived in it and shows signs of abuse or severe wear and tear, you’ve got some work ahead of you. Have all damage repaired and problems fixed, including touch-up repair on minor exterior paint scratches. Get your car detailed inside and out. If tires are worn, have them replaced, since this is the one of the first things dealers look at during a vehicle inspection. If you fail to heed this recommendation, be prepared to be socked with fees and payments to bring the car back up to par. Keep in mind that your car should look as close to the way it did when you picked it up as possible.

Make an appointment for the return. – To speed things up on the actual turn-in date, make an appointment with the dealer. Then, be on time. Be sure to bring all items that came with your car when you first leased it, including extra keys, key fobs, and owner’s manual. What the dealer will do when you turn in the vehicle is take down all the information, including the vehicle identification number (VIN), the year/make/model, mileage, number of keys turned in, your name, address, and account information. You and the dealer representative will sign this document. Make sure you get a copy of it for your records. If you will be turning in one leased car and signing up for another, it’s best to have this all figured out before hand. No need to waste time on the lot or in the showroom going over details. That’s what the Internet is for. Do your research so you’re well-prepared. That means having the necessary amount due at signing of your new lease. Buying the leased car outright? Have the funds ready for that as well. Walking away because you’ve either purchased or leased another car elsewhere, don’t need a car, or have made other arrangements? Just know what you’re going to do before you arrive to turn in your current leased vehicle.

Returning a leased car should be as easy as one, two, three. If you’ve followed these steps carefully, the task should be accomplished in no time.


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