You might feel nervous if you have damaged a car that you took on a lease. You still need to return the vehicle once the contract is over. If the car has had an accident within the lease period or even some other problems, you might be in trouble.
Car lease companies have different policies regarding damage to leased vehicles. You need to understand the terms before you agree to a lease.
Some car lease companies will penalise you if the car ends up with scratches and dents. However, there are acceptable things that they might forgive. For instance, if the scratches are only up to 25 mm and the bare metal is not showing, it might be okay. Any scratch that does not affect the driver’s line of sight could also be acceptable. Upon return, the tyres must meet the legal requirements stated by the government. Damage to lenses that does not lead to broken glass is also acceptable. Remember though that these conditions might vary depending on your chosen leasing company.
The car might experience damage as a result of an impact. You are responsible for repairing the said damage. If left unrepaired, the car lease company will charge you. The same rule applies to windscreen chips or wheel damage. You also need to clean both the interior and exterior before returning it. Wheel damage, abrasions and scratches over 25 mm are also unacceptable.
How much will be the penalty be?
The damage charges depend on the car lease company’s evaluation of the damage. It is also possible that you will receive an excessive quotation to repair the damage. It helps if you fix the damage yourself so that you can shop around for the best place to get it done.
Is it possible to dispute the damage charges?
Yes. The car lease companies need to follow guidelines in determining the damage charges. If they are excessive, you can challenge the amount and insist on another assessment. You need to inform the appropriate government agency about it. After the re-evaluation, if the assessment stays the same, you have no choice but to pay the damage charges.
A few reminders
Before you finalise one of the many cheap car lease deals available, you need to understand the terms. Take a photo of the entire car before you drive it. Focus on each panel, wheel, and the interior. Make sure there are timestamps on the pictures you take. You can dispute the assessment later if you can prove that the current appearance of the car is similar to how it looked when you received it.
Keep the receipts for all repairs done to the vehicle to prove what work has been carried out. You can also use them later to compare the cost if you get charged for any damage.
Do not panic if you experience an accident or other problems with the car you leased. You can still fix it and return the vehicle without the need to argue with the car lease company.