Forgot to return the car I am leasing!
May 2, 2016 1:57 PM   Subscribe

I am leasing a car. I just noticed the "maturity date" was yesterday, meaning I forgot to return it on time. Doh! I feel like a total idiot, but then I was under the impression that there would be tons of notice about how to schedule an inspection, etc., so I wasn't expecting to need to pay close attention to when it needed to be returned. I haven't heard anything--no mail, calls, nothing.

I just want to swap it for a new lease with the latest version of the same car. I know in general I need to call the dealer to figure out how to do this and just ask them what the penalty is for starting the process late, but I am having serious anxiety about this terrible surprise chore and feeling really overwhelmed.

Here are my specific questions:
- If you have ever returned a car late, what was the penalty like?
- Will I need to negotiate on the terms for my next lease, or are they standard terms where the price is the same for everyone? (I was not responsible for arranging the current lease, so I've never done this before either).
- Do I need to wash a car before turning it in or can I bring it over right now as is? It is in very good shape in terms of mileage and damage, but it is pretty dirty.
posted by insoluble uncertainty to Travel & Transportation (5 answers total)
They'll probably be so anxious to lease you another car that they'll find a way to make it work for you. I wouldn't mention it being late and it'll very possibly be a total nonevent.

You should still be able to negotiate on your next car.

You should make the car reasonably clean, but before it is sold off to anyone else, they'll be doing a full detailing on it anyways, so don't get too uptight.
posted by jgreco at 2:13 PM on May 2, 2016 [2 favorites]

Are car dealerships in your state/country even open on Sundays? If not, you may be fine. Call them right now. Hit the car wash on your way over. If they're going to penalize you, then fold that problem into the new lease negotiations. If they don't mention it, start the new lease after you've already officially turned in the car.
posted by carmicha at 2:18 PM on May 2, 2016

This is no biggie. They'd LOVE to lease you a new car. Just strut in there like you own the joint.

They aren't going to penalize you, if they even start up with that mess, just tell them, Fine, I'll take it to the other X dealership, perhaps they'll be more helpful.

But they won't. They REALLY want you to lease another.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 2:29 PM on May 2, 2016 [11 favorites]

Response by poster: Update for future googlers:

The people at the dealership did not seem at all phased or even surprised that the car was late, and were very eager to lease me a another one.

However, they also did not seem to have any control over whether I am charged late fees or not since the fees come from Nissan central and not the dealership. It is standard to get $500 worth of damage fees waived for leasing another car through Nissan, so that might cover it. I don't know yet what the fees will be.

In order to return the car I had to schedule an inspection, and the next available appointment was two days out. Until the inspection happens the car can't be returned, so this meant the car was an extra two days late. So if your car is late, the #1 most important thing you should do is SCHEDULE YOUR INSPECTION immediately to get the earliest possible date.

Because I couldn't return the car for two days anyway I had plenty of time to shop around and walk out on dealership shenanigans, which saved me a bunch of money on my next lease.

I did finally find the notice with end-of-lease instructions: it was in the lower corner of my final bill, which I never read because the account was on autopay. I have have created a calendar alert for next time.
posted by insoluble uncertainty at 3:50 PM on May 4, 2016 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Final update: I received the end-of-lease statement, and no late fees were charged.
posted by insoluble uncertainty at 2:38 PM on June 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

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