Tips for Returning Your Leased Vehicle

After a glorious 3 years, your leased vehicle is ready to find its new home! It’s a bittersweet end to an era, but such is life. To help you get through the lease return process without being dinged by extra fees, we’ve compiled some tips and answers to commonly asked questions below.


Should I schedule an inspection before I return my leased vehicle?

It’s not necessary to have your vehicle inspected prior to returning it—but it’s highly recommended.

We suggest having your vehicle inspected at least 30 days before the lease expires. This will allow you to address any issues that would result in an extra fee. For example, if your Subaru Lease Inspector notes that you have several scratches that would be considered abnormal wear and tear, you have enough time to get those areas repaired at an auto body shop.

If you plan on leasing another Subaru, ask your dealer if those charges can be eliminated or reduced. Oftentimes, dealers will waive those fees to keep you as a customer.

Am I required to return my lease to the same dealership?

Absolutely not. For instance, if you lease a Subaru Ascent in Montgomery but want to return it to our Birmingham Subaru dealership, we’d be more than happy to accept it without an extra charge. All we ask is that you return the lease by its maturity date and bring all potentially necessary documents with you, including service history, registration, title, proof of insurance, the vehicle’s manual, and your lease contract. We’ll take care of you and help with the lease return process.

Do I have to remove decals and bumper stickers before returning a lease?

Placing a sticker or decal on any auto paint can damage the vehicle, which will undoubtedly be at your expense (“Wear and Tear”) upon lease return. With care and determination, you can DIY remove that bumper sticker without damaging the paint. Either way, don’t assume your dealer will get rid of those stickers on your behalf. It’s best to remove all stickers prior to returning your leased vehicle, just in case.

If you must display your “Perot ‘92” sticker with pride, apply it to your rear or side windows. It’s much easier to remove stickers on glass—a razor blade and some adhesive remover does quick work of car decals.

Can I return a leased vehicle with expired registration tags?

If you check your vehicle lease contract, it should state that maintaining your registration is a requirement. So, if your Subaru Forester lease expires on October 31, but your vehicle’s registration is due on September 24, you’ll still have to pay for the new tags, unfortunately. Otherwise, you may be sent a notice weeks or months down the line to pay for the overdue tags in addition to your disposition fees.

Alternatively, you could return your leased vehicle early to avoid the registration costs. Check your lease paperwork or ask your Subaru dealer about any early-return fees.

However, there is a caveat—at least here in Alabama: If you plan on purchasing or leasing another vehicle, whether new or pre-owned, your new registration fees may be prorated. It’s best to ask your car dealer or a representative at your local DMV/BMV for more details.

Should I replace my tires before bringing my lease back to the dealer?

You must return your lease in its “original” condition. If your tires are within the normal “wear and tear” range, you shouldn’t need to buy new ones. But if your tires are bald or their tread is less than adequate, you may want to purchase a new set.

Unfortunately, returning your vehicle lease in its “original” condition also means having the same set of OEM tires that were installed when you signed your contract. That means you can’t just replace one old tire with a new one; all tires must match. Ask your auto dealer or inspector for advice. They may even have good tire deals to help offset the added cost.

Some car dealerships will waive this fee if you plan to purchase or lease another vehicle, as well.

How can I avoid getting charged for wear and tear?

Give your vehicle some regular TLC throughout the entire leasing period! Get it detailed, have its oil changed, perform routine auto maintenance—essentially, treat the vehicle well and you shouldn’t be dinged at the lease maturity date.

Some auto brands and dealers will offer special Wear and Tear/Use waivers. When you lease a Subaru, up to $1000 of Wear and Use charges will be subtracted from your final bill. Should you re-lease a new Subaru, your disposition fees will also be waived via Subaru’s Loyalty Disposition Fee Waiver Program. Score!

If you have any other questions about returning your car lease, or if you’d like to buy or lease your very first Subaru, contact our Subaru dealership near Hoover at (205) 588-6281. We’d be happy to help. We’re located at 1301 5th Ave North in Birmingham, AL, and offer a large inventory of popular Subaru cars, wagons, and SUVs. Swing by to see our selection!