Leasing damage: how to avoid high final bills and even make a profit

Lease return: Scuffs are part of the deal, but sometimes they are billed at a hefty rate

Returning leased cars is often an unpleasant experience at the end – usually the lessor demands a hefty bill for even the smallest damage incurred during the leasing period. EFAHRER.com reveals how you can avoid this and even earn money.

As carefree as leasing is during the term, the end of the lease can be complicated. The lessor wants a car that is as good as new, but you have used the car more or less often, so wear and tear is quite normal. The trouble is often pre-programmed.

What you can already do during the leasing term

Drive a leased car carefully: It may sound old-fashioned, but it pays off in the end.

  • When parking, make sure you don’t hit the curb with the alloy wheels. Such scratches are classic defects that the lessor can end up charging you dearly for.
  • Don’t park in the tightest parking space, because otherwise there is a risk of parking scratches and dents from neighboring doors.
  • Treat the interior with care. Stains in cloth seats or on the headliner, scratches in leather seats or on the steering wheel, or even broken off parts are difficult to recover from and can cost you a chunk of money.
  • Do not smoke in your leasing car. Smoke stink reduces car resale value. When you return the car for leasing, this will be expensive to clean up, which will be at your expense.
  • Attention also with animal hair: If you have a dog, be sure to use slipcovers and clean the car regularly, because at the end of the term it is hardly possible to get rid of all the dirt.
  • If you drive a station wagon or SUV, we also recommend that you purchase a trunk tray – it makes sense even if you don’t have a dog, after all, these trays save you from getting irrevocable stains.
  • In addition, accessories such as a load sill protector or rubber floor mats are also worthwhile.
  • If you are basically satisfied with your lessor and want to lease a car again, signal this to your dealer/car dealership. It can be a good idea to lease a car there again, as dealers are often more accommodating when it comes to minor defects on the previous car if you remain a customer there.

How best to prepare for the end of the lease

Calculate a certain amount of repair, you have to pay in the end, with a. It is best to set aside a small amount each month for this purpose. Rule of thumb: About 500 euros come together quickly, so you should be prepared here. Some leasing providers, such as Sixt, also charge for the expert opinion at the end, which is incurred when the vehicle is returned. The cost here is about 150 euros.

Also keep an eye on your mileage quota. Don’t panic, with most leasing contracts there is a goodwill of around 2.000 kilometers. D.h. only when you have exceeded this goodwill, you have to pay extra kilometers – by the way, the goodwill also applies to less kilometers. If you notice in the first year that you are hopelessly over your free kilometers, it may be worthwhile to make an adjustment in the contract before you have to pay the extra kilometer price for the individual kilometers at the end.

Pay attention to the maintenance intervals, otherwise the guarantee does not apply in the event of damage. Important: do not choose the cheapest workshop. In most cases it is contractually agreed in the leasing agreement that inspections and repairs on the leased car are to be carried out by a contract or cooperation workshop. Stick to it! If you want to be carefree, we recommend that you take out a maintenance package at the time of leasing. Of course, the leasing rate will increase, but you will be spared nasty surprises in the form of high inspection bills. An example: The annual inspection of a SmartForTwo costs well and gladly 600 Euro at a Smart branch! And one more tip: When it comes to annual maintenance, keep in mind that maintenance is often due one year after initial registration, i.e. not just one year after the vehicle is handed over to you. Again and again we hear of cases where leasing customers had to pay a penalty fee because of this.

Treat your leased car with care: it's always worth it at the end of the lease


Go through this checklist before leasing return:

  • How clean is the car from the inside? Tip: Not everything has to be absolutely spotless, usually you can save the cost of professional cleaning if you don’t have massive stains or pet hair buildup in the car. Vacuum the car thoroughly, clean the gaps, for example in the seat suspensions. If you can’t get anywhere with the vacuum cleaner, parcel tape is great for removing stuck-on dirt. Clean the interior windows and all storage areas, as well as the dashboard, of course. For fabric seats and the headliner we recommend carpet foam for stains, for leather seats often liquid leather care works wonders. If all this is too tedious for you, then invest in a professional interior cleaning. Depending on the degree of soiling and the size of the car, this can cost between 60 and 250 euros.

What you can do during leasing return

Insist on being present at the inspection! Take a witness with you, in the best case it is a specialist (mechatronics engineer, vehicle engineer).a.). If the appraiser comes across a quirk that you think is less tragic or more wear and tear, go into negotiation. Example: An alleged crack in the rim can also turn out to be a simple scratch that can easily be repaired via Smart Repair.

Classic parking damage to the bumper: you should have such damage repaired before the end of the lease

What to do in case of expensive bills from the lessor?

There is hardly a car that is returned to the lease without any problems and without being cleaned again. The crux: Often, after the end of the leasing period, an expert opinion or a cost estimate flutters into the house with items that you can hardly comprehend. You have two options to save money:

a) You give the car to a so-called refurbisher before the end of the leasing period. There are companies that specialize in this. Large garage chains such as ATU also offer this service. What is done there? The exterior and interior of the car is reconditioned in such a way that it passes the appraisal with as few complaints as possible. Advantage: You have enough time in advance to take care of it. Disadvantage: There is no guarantee that the lease will be returned without any problems. You also run the risk of having too much work done on the car, which the lessor would not have objected to later. By the way: In EFAHRER’s experience, car dealerships are more accommodating when it comes to returning the lease if you conclude your next leasing contract there.

b) You wait for the end of the term, you are present at the appraisal and then you go to the negotiation. Sometimes it is possible to convince the dealer that a defect is due to wear and tear. For all other damages are not obliged to have the repairs done by the lessor! So it’s worth doing your own research now on how to fix this one more cheaply. Therefore, it is also advisable not to return the car exactly at the end of the leasing period, but to have the appraisal done a few days before, so that you still have time for rectification of defects.

The magic word is Smart Repair – instead of replacing entire body parts or doing extensive work, Smart Repair makes it easy to repair the damage. The best example is scratches in the rim. Here, too, it is worth contacting several smart repair providers (some also call themselves paint doctors). For this purpose, you can use the photos you have taken yourself or you can visit the service providers on site.


Pro tip: Make money at the end of the lease term

You have always taken great care of your car? In the best case, you have even driven fewer kilometers than the mileage package provided for? Then it could well be that your car is still worth significantly more in residual value than once pre-calculated in the leasing contract.

Many leases give the lessee the option to buy out the car at the end of the lease term for an amount that was already set at the beginning of the term. So become active at the end of the leasing period! Do some research on used car platforms like Autoscout24 or mobile.de, at what prices private sellers offer similar cars. Watch how long these offers are active. Especially if you have leased a car with a sought-after paint job or with a thick equipment, the chances are often good that you can sell the car well.

By the way, a similar procedure can also be worthwhile if you have made scratches and scratches. Because sometimes buying out of the lease and reselling it is more profitable than returning the car and incurring repair costs. Ergo, it is worthwhile to take out your pencil and do the math.

Does this also apply to e-cars? Yep. At the moment it is highly attractive to buy a new car as an electric car – the reason is the e-car premium. In the case of a used Stromer, you can not claim this from BAFA, because for this car (usually) already paid a premium. However, it may be that your e-car is in such demand that buyers may still be found, especially since waiting times for new cars are sometimes over a year. If you want to buy the e-car out of the leasing and further, we recommend you to let carry out also a battery check with the TuV or in the workshop of confidence. It shows at the end how healthy the battery still is, that is, how much capacity it still has compared to when it was new. Good battery health is also a very good selling point.

This might also interest you: E-car on subscription: Alternative to buying and leasing

E-cars can now also be rented on a subscription basis at a fixed monthly price – similar to e-bikes, for example. This includes almost all maintenance costs. The offers differ greatly from each other. EFAHRER presents the most important providers here.

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