Returning Your Lease Car

Find out what to expect when it comes to returning your car.

What happens at the end of a car lease?

The exact procedure will vary depending on the finance company, but generally, the lender will contact you a few months before the contract is due to end to discuss what happens at the end of the lease.

It’s more than likely that they’ll give you the option of signing up to a one, but you can just arrange to hand the car back and leave it at that. Either way, the leasing company will arrange to inspect and collect the car at the very end of the contract. Organising collection of your lease vehicle

Organising collection of your lease vehicle

It’s a good idea to organise the collection early and with plenty of detail – you may be able to do this when the leasing company initially gets in touch. Some companies will be more flexible than others, but it should be possible to have the car collected from your home or work address.

If you’re taking out another lease then it may be possible to have your existing car collected and the new one delivered at the same time. Again, though, this depends on how far in advance you’ve made arrangements with the lender.

What you'll need when it's collected

The finance company will want any documents relating to the car, such as the service history. It’s unlikely that you’ll have the V5 registration document if you’ve been leasing the car, because the leasing firm is the registered keeper, but if you have got it, you’ll certainly need to give that back as well.

What happens during the inspection?

The car will be inspected before the leasing company takes it away to check for any damage and note its general condition. Vehicle inspectors use the Fair Wear and Tear Guide issued by the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA), which clearly describes what is and isn’t considered a reasonable amount of damage on a vehicle leased for a certain period of time.

Can I expect any charges?

If the car is in good condition and has nothing more than very minor wear and tear – the type of which you’d expect for a vehicle of its age – then you shouldn’t receive any charges at all. You will be charged if it’s damaged or if you’ve exceeded the agreed mileage limit.

What happens if I've gone over the mileage?

The exact amount of mileage you’re allowed to cover without incurring additional charges is set out at the start of the contract. If you’ve gone over this amount, then you will be charged by the leasing company, usually on a per-mile basis. The exact charge per mile will be detailed in your contract.

Returning a lease car with damage

If the car is damaged, then you’re in for a bill, because the leasing company will need to get it repaired. If you’re in any doubt about its condition then it’s a good idea to contact the finance company before the vehicle is inspected to discuss any potential issues. You may find it’s cheaper to get any damage repaired yourself before you return the car.


It may be possible to extend your lease contract. If you want to, then speak to the finance company as soon as possible. Some will be more flexible about extensions than others, but the earlier you contact them about it, the better your chances.

No, you don’t. When you lease a car, you’re effectively renting it for the duration of the contract, so you won’t get any money back at the end of it.

Some forms of car finance allow you to hand the car back early – but leasing isn’t one of them. If you want to cancel the contract then you’ll have to pay off the remaining amount in full, even if you have years left.

If you’re struggling to afford the payments then contact the finance company as soon as possible, as they may be able extend the contract and lower the monthly payments or attempt to find another solution.

If you return your lease car early, you will likely have to pay a penalty. This penalty is usually calculated as a percentage of the remaining lease payments.

If you damage your lease car, you will be responsible for the repairs. It's always best to get these repairs fixed by bodyshop or a SMART repair centre before handing the car back.

If you don't return your lease car by the end of the agreed lease term, you will be considered in default. Legal action will be taken against you.

If you lose your keys to your lease car, you will need to contact your finance company immediately.