You’ve found your dream car and you’ve contacted the buyer who is very responsive and eager to pass the lease on. However, before you finalize the deal, it’s crucial that you inspect the car before taking over the lease to minimize any future costs on the vehicle and to ensure the vehicle has been well cared for by the current lessee.
Stay with us to go over the basics, which are always good reminders, followed by the more technical aspects of what you should be looking for.
Health and safety first
Despite the ever present novel coronavirus, we recommend inspecting the car in person while adhering to national physical distancing guidelines. This includes, but is not limited to, meeting on the street as opposed to in a garage or parkade, keeping a 2m/6ft distance from the current leaseholder, wearing masks, washing hands, and sanitizing all surfaces that are touched.
Meet during the day
In addition to discussing COVID safety procedures, ensure your appointment for the inspection is during the daytime. This may seem obvious but natural light and a bright atmosphere will help in assessing the physical appearance of the car. Additionally, you are more likely to be alert and less tired and keen to perform a thorough inspection.
Start with the outside
Most financing departments consider any dents or dings greater than 2 inches to be significant, so you want to keep an eye out for any scratches or physical damages that exceed this limit as these damages will result in additional costs when the lease is up.
You should also be aware that there are additional charges for worn out tires that need a replacement. Therefore, in a lease takeover deal ensure that the tire treads on all 4 tires are well above the 3.2mm or 1/8” threshold. To test the wear and tear on the tires first turn the wheel out so that all tire treads are clearly visible. Then hold a quarter with the Queen’s head down and place the quarter in the tread. If the top of the Queen’s head is visible, the tire is worn out. If the treads cover the top of the Queen’s head, you are good to go!
You should also ensure the tires are worn out evenly an all sides. If this is not the case, it could be a sign of tire misalignment and potentially greater operational issues with the car.
Move to the inside
Before you sit behind the wheel, take a moment to check out the upholstery of the car. In addition to asking the current lessee whether they have any pets or smoking habits, take your time and look for any animal fur or odours in the fabrics.
Once behind the wheel, turn the car on in a quiet environment to ensure you can hear any unusual noises that may be coming from the engine or other parts of the car that could indicate a potential issue. Does the stereo work? The windshield wipers? How about the A/C? And of course, take the car for a test drive as this is key to understanding whether the vehicle has any issues or not. We recommend having the current lessee sit in the back to maximize the distance between you two as a health and safety precaution.
Don’t forget the details
As with any car lease, there is a limit for the mileage the car can be driven in a year. Make sure the car does not exceed the allowable annual kilometers and is as advertised on our website. You should also ask for the original lease paperwork and verify all the details against the advertisement to ensure they match.
If there was any service or maintenance done on the car, the paperwork should be provided as part of the lease transfer package. You should also check the Vehicle Identification Number or VIN on any of the numerous free VIN lookup websites available to get a history of the vehicle and verify against the information provided by the seller.
Given that at the end of a lease you need to return the car with all keys that were originally leased out, ensure you confirm the total number of keys with the seller and takeover the lease with all, usually both, sets of keys that the car came with. This will help minimize excessive costs upon the termination of the lease.
Consider hiring a professional
There are numerous technical aspects to check for in a car in addition to ensuring a smooth test drive. Luckily, there are many trusted professionals that provide great value-added inspection services. Consider going to a mechanic who would know what additional items to look for to ensure you go through a smooth lease takeover process.
However, if you want to give it a shot yourself, we recommend checking for engine cracks and/or leaks, a clear, translucent oil that is not at a low level, and red transmission fluid. But if you aren’t confident in your ability to analyze what is under the hood, or perhaps this is your first time taking over a car lease, it is worth spending a few bucks to have the car checked professionally from a technical standpoint.
Before you meet up with the seller, create a checklist and stick to it so that you don’t get caught up in conversation and lose sight of what is important. Last but not lease, take pictures, and document everything so that you don’t find yourself playing a guessing game later.
Thanks for following our blog! Do you have any tips on what to look for in a car lease takeover inspection? Leave your thoughts in the comments.