Every auto lease contains a vague clause stating that the customer bears responsibility for “excess wear and tear to the vehicle.” But what that really means is subject to different interpretations based on your car’s model and the leasing bank’s policies. So how do you avoid getting charged with an unexpected bill after you return your car when your lease is up?

Some leasing banks offer a free pre-inspection 30-60 days before the lease expires, letting you know how much you will be charged based on the condition of the vehicle. You can then decide to have the car repaired locally if it will save you money. When a bank pre-inspection is not available, you should seek the advice of an experienced leasing agent or body shop that is familiar with the different guidelines and billing history for each bank. You might be surprised to find out what should get fixed and what the bank will allow you to neglect.