Part of the appeal of a car lease is that you have very little financial responsibility for keeping the vehicle running. Your warranty, insurance policy and the leasing company pay for most repairs and maintenance so that it can increase the chances of getting back a car that’s in good shape.
Reviewing what’s covered, in terms of repairs and maintenance, will help you decide if this makes a car lease more attractive than a car purchase.
Read More: What Does It Mean to Lease a Car?
Your auto insurance needs to cover repairs to damage that occurs that aren’t the fault of the manufacturer.
What Is Standard Maintenance?
Standard maintenance refers to the things car owners need to do to keep the car from wearing out prematurely. This means changing the oil and air filter every 3,000 to 7,500 miles, depending on the make of the car. It might include fluid changes or top-offs, tire rotations and getting the car washed when it’s obviously dirty to help preserve the paint.
With many car leases, you aren’t responsible for paying for standard maintenance, explains legal website NOLO.com, but you are responsible for scheduling appointments and bringing the car in for service. You’ll usually be notified by the leasing company that it’s time to come in for your X,000-mile service.
You might need to have it serviced at the dealership where you leased the car. This is one reason people like leasing vs. owning – if you take care of the car, you’ll have few out-of-pocket costs (other than gas) to operate it for the years you’re leasing it.
Read More: Leasing a Car vs. Buying a Car
What About Accidents?
Your auto insurance needs to cover repairs to damage that occurs that aren’t the fault of the manufacturer. If you’re in an accident, whether it’s your fault or not, you are responsible for the repairs, not the leasing company. If it’s the other driver’s fault, she’ll need to have her insurance pay for it, but you will arrange for the repairs. If the accident is your fault, you’ll have to pay your deductible.
Contact your leasing company to make sure they approve the repairs or that the repair shop you’re using, the parts they will use and the work is acceptable under your lease agreement. Leasing companies often require you to purchase an insurance policy that covers and costs more than what you’re used to.
Read More: Is it Cheaper to Lease a Car or Rent One?
What if Something Fails?
Leased cars come with warranties, just like new cars and some used cars, points out Credit.com. These warranties are usually very good manufacturer’s warranties, because the leasing company wants to get back a car that’s in good shape for it to lease again or sell.
You might also be offered the opportunity to purchase an extended warranty or some other type of extra care package to reduce your out-of-pocket costs if something goes wrong. Make sure you know what is excluded in your warranty so you know what you’re on the hook for.
What Is Excess Wear and Tear?
When you turn in your car at the end of the lease, the leasing company will inspect it for excess wear and tear. This is damage caused because you didn’t operate the vehicle like most people.
For example, if you are someone who brakes hard every time you stop, you might damage the brakes and related parts much sooner than the industry standard. If you have deep dents, large paint scratches or tears in the upholstery, that’s considered excessive.
Steve Milano has written more than 1,000 pieces of personal finance and frugal living articles for dozens of websites, including Motley Fool, Zacks, Bankrate, Quickbooks, SmartyCents, Knew Money, Don't Waste Your Money and Credit Card Ideas, as well as his own websites.