How to Get Your Car Ready for Lease Inspection

In 2015, more than 16.5 million new vehicles were sold, the highest since 2006. However, according to Edmunds and Kelley Blue Book, 25 percent of all new cars weren’t actually “sold,” instead they were leased.

Leases generally run for three to four years. At the end of the lease, you’ll have two options: either buy the car for the residual value (a dollar value that was calculated and agreed to at the beginning of the lease) or walk away from the lease.

Part 1 of 4: Read the lease and know your options

Check your lease terms and understand the different options available to you. There are two lease options:

  • Option 1: Buy the leased vehicle. The most important part of any lease is the residual value. If your car is worth more on the open market than the residual value, you might consider buying the vehicle and keeping it. Or you can buy the car, sell it, and pocket the difference.

  • Option 2: Buy a new vehicle. If you don’t have the money to buy the leased car outright, consider rolling the security deposit you put down for the current car into a new car. This will reduce the amount of money you’ll need to come up with to get into a new lease.

Part 2 of 4: Prepare for the inspection

Whether you intend to buy, lease, or walk away from it, your car will need to undergo a thorough end of lease inspection. The car will be inspected for mileage, wear and tear, and other issues that may reduce the value of the car. It is best that you prepare for the end of lease inspection in advance by following these steps:

Step 1: Check your mileage. About three months before the end of the lease, check your mileage.

Most three-year leases allow for 12,000 miles a year. By the time you turn in the car, the mileage should be 36,000 miles or under.

If you’re over the mileage cap, be prepared to pay an extra fee per mile, for the number of miles which are over the maximum miles allowed.

Step 2: Avoid increasing the mileage. If you think you might exceed the mileage cap by the time the lease is over, cut down on driving the car for a while.

The excessive mileage penalties add up very quickly once you go over the mileage cap.

Step 3: Detail your car. Get your car detailed inside and out before you take it in for the inspection. Be very thorough and make your car look its best.

Part 3 of 4: Validate all inspection points

All cars experience normal wear and tear. However, after a lease ends, most dealers want to do as little as possible to the car, and resell it quickly.

Step 1: Follow the pre-inspection checklist. Ensure that you pay particular attention to the following factors before the inspection.

pre-inspection checklist

Step 2: Fix any issues. Get a certified mechanic to fix any issues that you notice in the pre-inspection checking process.

Part 4 of 4: Pay attention to the details

At the end of a lease, it is imperative that you return the car, and its components, exactly as it was given to you. Here is a list of last minute details you need to get ready before the inspection:

Step 1: Collect both sets of keys. If you were given two sets of keys at the start of the lease, ensure that you return two sets of keys.

Step 2: Collect the original floor mats. If you replaced the floor mats, return the originals back to the leasing company.

Step 3: Prepare all repair kits and manuals for return. You need to return cargo covers, third row seats, lug nut locks, spare tires, jacks, repair kits, and owners manuals at the end of a lease.

Step 4: Undo any modifications. Undo any modifications that you have made and check that your car is in the condition you received it before you return the car, or else you’ll get charged for undoing your upgrades.

Leasing your vehicle gives you a lot of flexibility at the end of the lease term. You can choose to buy out your current leased vehicle, lease another car (either from the same brand or try something new), or simply return the car and walk away from the lease.

At the end of the lease agreement, you will need to return your car to the dealership. Your vehicle will need to be thoroughly inspected before it is accepted back. Follow the above steps to prepare for a lease inspection and ensure that your car is in good condition.

If you need professional help in checking your leased car, get a certified mechanic, such as one from YourMechanic, to perform a safety inspection as well.


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Pardeep

21 years of experience
1068 reviews
Pardeep
21 years of experience
Ford Fusion L4-2.0L Hybrid - 75 Point Safety Inspection - San Jose, California
I have ordered a 75-point inspection of the car since my dealership claimed it had an oil leak and the timing cover replacement was due (this kind of repair costs in the ballpark of a thousand dollars). I mentioned the need for a second opinion on that since the car had been bought relatively recently from that dealer (certified pre-owned) and not very actively used. Pradeep performed the safety inspection in a very timely manner and addressed my main question by honestly concluding that there was no leak but just some dust collected over time. This has saved me much time and money. Finally, I was also very glad to learn a tip on how to find a matching paint for a body scratch from him.
Ford Escape - 75 Point Safety Inspection - San Jose, California
Pradeep immediately found the suspension problem I was worried about and fixed it. We had just purchased this car and now feel a lot better about it now that he has checked it out.

H

26 years of experience
828 reviews
H
26 years of experience
Hyundai Accent L4-1.6L - 75 Point Safety Inspection - Sunnyvale, California
Honorio not only told me what is going on with the car but was so honest about everything. Looking forward to having Honorio taking car of my requests.
Acura RDX - 75 Point Safety Inspection - Palo Alto, California
Honorio went above and beyond my expectations. He was honest about which repairs needed to be done even though my service revision decreased his income. Will absolutely use again!!!! Thank you!

Robert

4 years of experience
61 reviews
Robert
4 years of experience
Nissan Versa L4-1.6L - 75 Point Safety Inspection - Lakewood, Washington
Robert is a rockstar. I can't express enough (again) the quality of his work and his ability to work around our schedules here. Honest, professional and courteous. I would recommend his services to any and everyone.

Juan

12 years of experience
55 reviews
Juan
12 years of experience
Mazda Protege5 L4-2.0L - 75 Point Safety Inspection - Vacaville, California
Professional, clear, & courteous when discussing results of inspection & recommendations going forward. If I still live in the area when I need to do future services, will definitely book again.

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