What About Excess Damage Charges?
Dominick Gallo is nearing the end of a 48-month relationship. I’m planning to return the car I’ve been leasing for the past four years at the end of the month, the New York man said.
But be’s worried about extra charges, particularly excess wear and tear. “My car is in good shape, but it has close to 60,000 miles on it and it sure doesn’t look brand new anymore. Should I worry?? he asked.
A certain amount of wear and tear to a vehicle is normal. This may include small door dings, paint scratches and stone chips–the type of wear that result from normal everyday operation.
Each leasing company has its own definition of what is normal and what is excessive. You can find the standards in your lease agreement.
In general, however, most companies will charge for anything other than very small breaks or cracks to the windshield; dents and scratches that are larger than 1.5 inches; frame damage; mismatched paint; and mismatched tires, or tires with 1/8 inch or less tread at the shallowest point.
Most also expect the car to be in drivable condition, so have it checked if any warning lights are on.
In New York, excess wear and damage charges can only be assessed if certain conditions are met. The leasing company must:
actually repair the vehicle or get a bona fide estimate of the repair costs from a licensed appraiser;
provide you with an itemized excess wear and damage bill and a notice of your right to a second inspection of the vehicle if you disagree with the bill;
give you access to the vehicle so you can have a second inspection at your expense by a licensed appraiser.
If you disagree with the amount the leasing company wants to charge you, you can submit the dispute to the New York Auto Leasing Excess Wear and Damage Arbitration Program.