Repairs Before You Return Your Leased Vehicle

Repairs and Restorations Before You Return Your Leased Vehicle

Leasing can be a great way to drive the car of your dreams, but alas, it’s not yours forever, and at some point you’ll have to return it to the dealership. When you do, they’ll perform an inspection to look for stains, damage and excessive wear and tear. They’ll allow a certain amount of normal wear on certain parts of the vehicle, but they’ll charge you for any necessary repairs and renovation—and they’ll charge considerably more than you’ll spend if you get the work done somewhere else. This is why many experienced vehicle lease customers handle repairs themselves before returning a vehicle. Most of the clean-up and repair you need to worry about is minor, so it doesn’t break the bank when you take it to a detailing or minor collision repair shop. In this article, we’ll take a look at a few of the “red flags” you should be aware of before returning a lease vehicle, and we’ll discuss some of the services APR provides that can save you literally hundreds of dollars on a lease return.

Interior Detailing

Photo of a detailing technician steam cleaning vehicle upholstery. A professional interior detailing is the bare minimum you should do before returning a leased vehicle. The fact is, we spend so much time inside our vehicles that we stop noticing some of the stains and marks we’ve left on them, but trained professionals have the eye, the tools and the experience to spot and deal with potential problem areas.Let’s take a look at a few services included in interior detailing that can help you get your car lease-ready.

Professional Stain Removal

Vehicles are like second homes to many of us.The average American spends 1½ hours per day in their vehicle, which sometimes includes eating and drinking. Over time, spills and stains are almost unavoidable,but you should definitely have them removed before returning the vehicle. Some stains are really difficult to clean and may require professional-grade chemicals or techniques to remove. For example, let’s take a look at the five worst things to spill in your car.

The 5 Worst Things to Spill in Your Car


Mayonnaise spills are both greasy and sticky. The oils in the condiment stain and eat away at upholstery if not cleaned in a timely manner.


Coffee is notoriously difficult to clean. Not only does it cause staining, but many coffee beverages contain dairy which sours if not cleaned. Sour milk is also an excellent bacteria nursery, so other foul odors can follow.


Gum is obviously sticky and ridiculously difficult to remove. Gum stains can actually get worse as you clean them, if you’re not using the proper chemicals with the proper techniques. Professionals are good at this.


Chocolate causes stains, and if it isn’t cleaned immediately it can attract ants and other bugs.

Soft Drinks

And number one … soft drinks; the absolute worst thing to spill in your car, and sadly most of us have done it. If not cleaned quickly, the soda will turn into a thick sludge and become very sticky, making it difficult to remove. Soda spills will also attract bacteria and mold if not dealt with quickly.

Odor Removal

Those spills, if not cleaned properly, can get mildewy and attract bacteria—creating some humdinger odors. These can be even more difficult to get rid of than stains; but most detailing shops have an ozone generator, which they use to fill the car with this modified version of oxygen. Ozone kills odors and germs at the molecular level without harming anything else in the vehicle. It dissipates quickly when the vehicle is ventilated, leaving zero harmful vapors. It also works great on pet odors.

Leather Restoration

As leather gets older, it loses surface protectants and becomes susceptible to dirt, oils, and UV damage. Leather seating is a common add-on to leased vehicles, and returning stained or damaged leather seats will definitely cost you. But detailing professionals have a few tricks up their sleeves for cleaning, restoring and repairing leather that can usually put you back in good shape.

Convertible Top Restoration

Photo of a fabric convertible top on a Ford Mustang. Whether it’s fabric or vinyl, a convertible top is exposed to dust, harsh weather, industrial chemicals, and other pollutants. Regular maintenance can go a long way, but sometimes your roof may need a little extra help to get it back to that “like-new” appearance. Detailing services can usually provide the repairs to get it ready for lease return.

Alloy Wheel Repair

Photo of a technician removing an alloy wheel from a vehicle for repair. Alloy wheels are susceptible to gravel, curb rash and the normal ravages of wind and weather. If you opted for alloy wheels on your lease vehicle, they need to look reasonably close to the condition they were in when you signed the lease. APR offers alloy wheel repair, which is much cheaper than buying new wheels, and we’re usually able to achieve stunning, like-new results.

Paintless Dent Repair

Photo of a PDR technician tapping the hood of a vehicle to remove a small dent. Paintless dent repair, or PDR for short, is a low-cost alternative to traditional body work. It only works on small dings and dents with no creasing and paint damage. Instead of grinding and filling dents, PDR technicians push, coax, tap and massage them back into their original shape without damaging the paint. It’s a very fast, surprisingly cheap procedure compared to traditional methods.

Coming Out Ahead on the Deal

Doing the detailing and repair work out of pocket usually makes good financial sense. By avoiding the bureaucratically inflated costs applied by lease companies, you can end up with more money in your pocket, once the deal is done.

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