Who is responsible for repairs on a leased car?

Hi Markus… I came upon your website on a Google search and am intrigued by your insights. I have always owned cars and never leased and am for the first time determined to do so like all of my cars and trucks are very old (newest is 2001). When you lease a vehicle according to your guideline, and it is delivered to your location, how do you handle bringing in that vehicle to a dealer to get free maintenance service such as oil change during the term of the lease? Especially since you did not lease it from that local dealership. I apologize if this is a dumb question!

When it comes to anything about new-car leasing, there are no dumb questions.

Those in the leasing biz make it complex on purpose. Because, when we are confused, we do not make good choices. And these bad choices put a lot of profit into a car dealership’s bank account.

In this blog, I frequently talk about never, ever going to a car dealership. Never visit a dealership when getting prices. Never visit a dealership when signing the lease paperwork. And never visit a dealership when maintaining your newly-leased car.

My clients know that everything can be done from home. We take delivery of our new car in our driveway. We sign the lease contract at our kitchen table. And when it comes to getting our car maintained, we never do it at a car dealership.

In my most popular posts, you can see me regularly warn my readers about these “stealerships”.

Now, about your main question – “free” car maintenance for a leased car…

Free maintenance is another in a long list of dealership scams.

It is a trick to acclimate us into getting us into their “stealership”. This Pavlovian conditioning gets us used to the idea of making frequent trips to the dealership’s service department – even under the guise of “free maintenance”.

This is why we are introduced to a “Service Advisor” while the F&I office prepares our paperwork. And this “Service Advisor” reminds us to bring in our new car within 1,000 miles to change the “break in oil”. This is pure nonsense. I write about the oil-change hustle here.

The bottom line about an oil change is I only change the motor oil once during the term of my entire car lease. Yep, once. At the same time, I ask to have my tires rotated, fluids topped – and I never change the cabin air filter (no matter how hard they push it).

The only other maintenance I pay for being premium windshield wiper fluid. (The cheap stuff “eats” windshield wiper blades.) Using the good stuff means I usually double the life… so I only need to replace the wiper blades twice during the entire lease.

Again, this is all about conditioning us to bring all our repairs and maintenance to the dealership.

Now, about that “free maintenance”…

One of the many advantages of new-car leasing is – well… we always drive a new car.

These new cars typically drive tens of thousands of miles without any maintenance needed.

In fact, I have yet to see a single lease agreement that forces us to maintain our leased car. Not a one…

And, I have yet to see an end-of-lease checklist look to see that we “maintained” our car.

Yet, it is implied (subconsciously) that we need to maintain our leased car. Heck, the dealership even tries to sell us “repair insurance” in addition.

The real reason it is implied that we maintain our car is to put more profit into the dealership’s bank account – even if the maintenance is “free”…

Dealerships will GLADLY put less than $25 worth of oil and filters into our “creampuff” at no charge. Why? Because when we turn our car back at lease end, they will buy it from the leasing company and flip it for a massive profit. Instead, this tutorial shows how we flip our car to put the massive profit into our bank account.

On a related note: if our car needs warranty work (which is different than maintenance), we are not bound to service it from where we leased it. For example, if we lease a Toyota RAV4 at Lancaster Toyota, we can have SpringHill Toyota honor the manufacturer’s warranty and fix it for us. Auto manufacturers pay dealerships for our warranty work. Bottom line: we can take our car to any dealership and to get it fixed under warranty.