Can I Modify a Leased Car?

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Contributing Writer

Bethany Hickey is a graduate from the University of Michigan-Flint, with a bachelor’s in English-Writing. She is a content writer for Auto Credit Express, CarsDirect, and many other automotive blogs, as well as the Poetry Editor for UM-Flint’s writing magazine.


, Contributing Writer - October 14, 2020

There are some rules on what you can and can’t do when you lease a car, and, typically, modifying a leased vehicle can cost you.

Modding a Leased Vehicle

If you return a leased car that you made modifications on, expect to pay out some cash and possibly lose your security deposit, if you were required to make one. In nearly every case, the leasing company wants to keep their vehicle in stock condition – meaning you must return the car in the same state it was in when you originally drove it off the lot.

Leasing companies lease their vehicles out to borrowers, and they usually prep it to be sold as a pre-owned car when it's over. So, they want the leased vehicle in good shape without personal modifications to it.

A leased car is also the leasing company’s property, and you don’t get your name on the vehicle’s title unless you purchase it at the end of the lease. When you lease a car, it's often compared to a long-term rental because you’re only paying for the time that you’re driving it.

Modding can void a manufacturer’s warranty, too. Say, for example, something goes wrong with the leased vehicle, like a mechanical issue, and you take it to the dealer to get it fixed. When they see certain modifications, they can automatically consider your warranty void. This leaves you solely responsible for paying for the repairs out of pocket.

Additionally, unless you intend to purchase it at the end of the lease term, modding a car could be considered a waste of time and money. Who wants to put money into modifications only to return the vehicle in the end?

Buy and Modify a Car, Instead

If you want to modify your car, buy one with cash or finance it with an auto loan.

When you take out a loan for a vehicle, you can do pretty much whatever you’d like, as long as it’s legal and drivable. You can still risk losing a manufacturer’s warranty if you modify a car with a loan, but you aren’t charged by your lender for modding your vehicle.

Since the car has your name on the title, it’s your asset, and you can do with it what you wish (within reason).

Generally, it’s easier to get into an auto loan than a lease, anyway. Leasing companies have pretty high credit score requirements, and it can be hard for borrowers with less than perfect credit to get approved.

However, borrowers with bad credit have more resources for vehicle financing. There are lenders that can work with credit issues, called subprime lenders. They’re signed up special finance dealerships, and they often assist borrowers who’ve gone through bankruptcy, a past repossession, or just poor credit circumstances. Finding these special finance car lots can be a little tricky, but we want to help.

Here at CarsDirect, we connect borrowers to dealers with the resources they need. To get started, fill out our free and secure auto loan request form, and we’ll look for a dealership in your area.

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, Contributing Writer

Bethany Hickey is a graduate from the University of Michigan-Flint, with a bachelor’s in English-Writing. She is a content writer for Auto Credit Express, CarsDirect, and many other automotive blogs, as well as the Poetry Editor for UM-Flint’s writing magazine.


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