Why Is The Dealer Trying To Charge Me An Inspection Fee To Buyout My Lease?

Illustration for article titled Why Is The Dealer Trying To Charge Me An Inspection Fee To Buyout My Lease?
Image: Honda

As Jalopnik’s resident car buying expert and professional car shopper, I get emails. Lots of emails. I’ve decided to pick a few questions and try to help out. This week we are discussing dealer inspection fees when buying out a lease, buying a used EV from a rental car company, and trading in a much newer car for an older one.

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First up, can dealers charge a fee to inspect a leased vehicle you are going to buy out?

My lease on a Honda CR-V ends in a few weeks and I’m planning to buy the vehicle. My Honda dealer tells me they are required to inspect the vehicle I have been driving for the past three years to make sure that it is mechanically safe to sell to me, and this safety inspection will cost $300. I have taken very good care of the vehicle, doing all of the scheduled maintenance and having had no accidents. Is this inspection legally necessary? Can I refuse to pay for it? I could understand having to pay for the inspection if I’m turning in the car, but not if I’m just paying off the remainder of what is owed on the car in order to own it.

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This seems shady and you are correct: most dealers have an inspection process for turning in a lease in case the car has any damage or something, but even then that inspection doesn’t typically cost you anything. There is a “disposition fee” that almost all lease companies charge to end your lease, but that is something different. As you said, you are going to buy it out from Honda Financial, there is no need for the dealer to be charging you anything. I would contact Honda Financial Services and see if there is a way to conduct the buyout without involving the dealership. Some brands allow for this while others make you do the process through the dealer. If the latter is the case, call around and find another Honda dealer in your region that won’t charge you the inspection fee. However, they may charge you some paperwork fees for titling and DMV charges to register the car.

Next, how come I can’t find any used EVs to buy from rental companies?

With Hertz going bankrupt and dumping a bunch of cars onto the market, I figure it would be a good opportunity to pick up a used EV for super cheap. But I don’t see anything in their inventory that is electric? Why is that?

While you would think that Hertz and other brands would keep some EVs in the fleet for folks looking for short trips, managing an EV is a bit more difficult than a gas car. If you are traveling and decide to rent a car you may not have a charging port at the hotel or parking location where you are storing the car. It would also require the rental locations to have charging ports, this increased investment and logistics likely isn’t worth it for them.

Finally, will a dealer that carries older cars be interested in my newer model?

Here is my predicament; I purchased a used Volkswagen Atlas(2018) in early 2019 and have not been happy with its reliability or overall performance on even mildly demanding terrain such as washboard dirt roads and “trails” appropriate for low clearance vehicles. In the interest of reliability I have my eye on a Lexus LX470/Land Cruiser which happen to be plentiful in the beautiful Southwest where I live. I’m wondering how attractive is it from a dealers standpoint for me to trade in my Atlas(20K miles) for a 13 to 16 year old vehicle on their lot? I want to lose as little money as possible in this transaction though I understand I will have to eat some portion of the money I have in it already.

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Most dealers are pretty happy to take in a used crossover on a trade as those tend to be easy cars to re-sell, but if this particular dealer is more focused on older models, they may not give you top dollar for the VW. I would first look into other avenues like CarMax, Carvana, or Vroom as they will all buy your car without having to buy from them, and take that offer to the place selling you the Lexus or Land Cruiser to see if they will match.

Got a car buying conundrum that you need some assistance with? Email me at tom.mcparland@jalopnik.com!

Tom is a contributing writer for Jalopnik and runs AutomatchConsulting.com. He saves people money and takes the hassle out of buying or leasing a car. (Facebook.com/AutomatchConsulting)

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DISCUSSION

nameiwillregret
IRegertNothing, CMDR 4th Antifa Light Dragoons

I sent Tom an email recently that I probably should have sent to Jalopdom.

I want to replace my sedan with a hatchback or wagon later this year. My wife already has a newer sedan, and I’d like something that can take 3 humans and 2 large dogs somewhere without anybody getting stepped on. There are a bunch of TDI SportWagens on the market which were bought back by VW and fixed because of Dieselgate. The models that were bought back all have additional coverage for the engine and fuel systems as part of the settlement terms. Has anyone run into issues with the fixed TDIs? I’ll take the car to my regular shop for a PPI regardless.