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What to Do if Your Wear and Tear Charge is Excessive

Wear and TearCar leasing can be a wise choice for certain people, but even if you decide it's right for you, there's one part of a car lease that can be downright unfair - the excessive "wear and tear" charge.

Most of the time, you shouldn't have any problems with this, but if you do, it can be a very frustrating experience.

As part of all car lease agreements, you're required to take good care of the vehicle. You are essentially responsible for any damage you cause beyond normal wear and tear.

The problem - there is no clear legal definition of what excessive wear and tear includes, and your lease agreement may not spell anything out in detail.

And guess who decides what constitutes excessive wear and tear? Yep, the leasing company - the one that profits from you having these charges.

Some leasing companies have been accused of overcharging for wear and tear. This isn't surprising because you're always going to have some bad apples in any business, and espeically in a situation where the leasing company has the power and legal authority to charge you anything they want for wear and tear - it's probably more common than you think.

Most of the captive leasing companies (the ones that are associated with the manufacturer - such as Acura Financial Services), do provide details on what constitutes wear and tear, but you'll usually have to contact their lease department to find out.

Many follow the "quarter rule" when it comes to exterior damage - if you can cover it with a quarter, they will usually let it slide.

If you're in a situation where you feel there are excessive wear and tear charges, you need to demand a detailed written estimate outlining the specific damages along with the cost to repair.

Take the vehicle to a couple of independent body shops or another dealer and ask for a written estimate for the damages.

If the independent shops come back with a lower repair cost than the leasing company, you should fight the excessive wear and tear charges.

If the leasing company doesn't budge, you can contact your state's attorney general's office and consider hiring an attorney if the charges are extreme.

Most leasing companies associated with the manufacturer (captive leasing) will inspect the vehicle prior to lease-end and allow you to make repairs on your own if you feel the charges are excessive.

One way to combat excessive wear and tear charges before you lease is to try to get the security deposit waived upfront. This way, if the leasing company tries to charge you for excessive wear and tear, they will have a harder time collecting the money.

My Recommendation for Car Shoppers

TrueCar No-Haggle and Edmunds Price Promise are the quickest way to see the lowest car prices in your area. These sites show you no-haggle prices from dealers closest to you - and the deals are usually really good. This should be the first step you take when negotiating your car price. Follow this up with my checklist to make sure you squeeze out every last bit of savings.
- Gregg Fidan

Gregg Fidan

About: Gregg Fidan

Gregg Fidan + is the founder of RealCarTips. After being ripped off on his first car purchase, he devoted several years to figuring out the best ways to avoid scams and negotiate the best car deals. He has written hundreds of articles on the subject of car buying and taught thousands of car shoppers how to get the best deals.

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