Are you returning your leased vehicule and being charged fees? You may be interested in the following information.

When you return a leased vehicle at the end of a lease, some merchants will charge fees to cover normal wear and tear costs. Other merchants will ask for compensation to bring the car back to a better condition than what is considered normal wear and tear. If you do not agree with the merchant on this matter, the courts will have the final word.

Request for an estimate

Before returning your vehicle at the end of the lease, you should have a mechanic of your choice evaluate the vehicle's wear and tear. In case of a problem with the merchant, you will be able to use this third-party's written evaluation of the vehicle's condition.

When it is obvious that damages are not due to normal wear and tear, you may benefit from having repair work done by the mechanic of your choice. You may save money on the cost of the requested repairs.

Example of fees that cannot be charged

The merchant cannot request that you refund the replacement of vehicle's hood because of slight scratches or bumps caused by small rocks or debris during the normal use of the car.

Moreover, a rip in the fabric of a seat that is not due to normal wear and tear cannot incur exorbitant costs to be repaired. The merchant must charge a reasonable amount.

Leasing contracts usually include a clause that provides the kilometre allowance for the duration of the contract. For example, a 48-month contract can provide for a 80,000-kilometre allowance.

Specified kilometre allowance

When a contract specifically mentions applicable fees, the merchant can charge additional fees when you go over the kilometre allowance.

No kilometre allowance

If your contract does not include a kilometre allowance or does not mention fees for additional mileage, the merchant cannot charge any additional fees.

Some merchants may request that you pay to replace the tires of the vehicle you are returning. But it may not always be justified.

Tires considered excessively worn

The merchant cannot charge you for a new set of tires to replace tires that are considered excessively worn. Charging for the installation of a set of used tires is more appropriate, provided these tires are considered to show normal wear and tear.

Winter tires

Are you returning the vehicle while it is fitted with winter tires? Some merchants may charge fees to replace the winter tires with another set that corresponds to what was installed when the car was purchased: all-season tires or summer tires.

The merchant can only charge this fee if it is provided for in the leasing contract. This requirement is more acceptable if, for example, the merchant asks for the winter tires to be replaced if the vehicle is not returned in the winter. In such a case, the merchant should not request the replacement tires be identical to the original set (same brand and same model) if tires from another brand are considered equivalent. However, the merchant can make such a request if the contract provides for it.

What to do if a merchant sends you an invoice for repairs they have done following the return of your vehicle?

Providing your authorization before repairs are done

When you return a vehicle, the merchant should suggest:

  • to provide them the authorization to carry out repairs; or
  • to handle the repairs yourself, by contracting them to the mechanic of your choice. The merchant cannot make repairs or resell the vehicle without allowing you to see the damages for yourself.

The merchant must inform you of the situation via a formal notice letter. Always verify claimed costs and request details.

A merchant should not charge you to replace a part if it can be repaired at a lower cost. Moreover, the merchant cannot claim the full repair costs–rather, the loss in value, if this loss is lower than the cost of repairs.

You can dispute fees charged by a merchant to refurbish a vehicle at the end of a lease.

If you unsuccessfully tried to settle the problem with the merchant, you can dispute their claim in court. The page Presenting a case to the small claims court explains how to do so.

The merchant cannot compensate for expenses by using the security deposit. Instead, they must return the security deposit to you and then claim the necessary charges.

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