Dear Harry: I have a three-year lease on a car, which will end in February. About a year ago, I changed jobs and now have to commute about 60 miles a day rather than the 12 that I traveled in my old job. A co-worker told me that car leases have mileage restrictions which I never knew about. My lease has a charge of 15 cents per mile for those miles in excess of 15,000 per year, and I'm already at 46,000. I estimate that I'll do at least another 3,000 to 5,000 by the time I return the car.
That's a lot of bucks! I don't know why the dealer never pointed this out to me. Is there some way I can get out of this, or perhaps another way to get some relief?
What Harry says: Car leases are tough and iron-clad.
It's unlikely that your dealer is still involved with the leasing, which makes any adjustments very unlikely.
If you have another car available, perhaps you can use it and put the leased car in your garage until the deal is over.
Or perhaps your spouse has a car with a lot less use that you can switch.
Certainly, renting another car on a short-term lease will cost a good deal more than that 15 cents a mile. Is car-pooling a possibility? How about public transit? Leasing cars is made to sound so inexpensive and easy that we are tempted to pass over many details that can hit us for larger than expected costs.
You've hit on the major one, but there is also the possibility for costs of minor body or interior blemishes, higher insurance costs, "fines" for going outside restricted travel areas and more.
You have to read those documents when your mind is alert. And be sure to get satisfactory answers to your questions!
Write Harry Gross c/o the Daily News, 400 N. Broad St., Philadelphia, PA 19130. Harry urges all his readers to give blood - contact the American Red Cross at 800-Red Cross.