Leasing a car could be the best way to drive your dream today without getting a personal loan or paying for the car upfront with cash. While the car is yours for the term of the lease, you may not have the privilege of making any major modifications to the vehicle, such as upgrading the audio system, installing dashboard features, or even tinting the windows. Is there any situation where you can tint windows on a leased car? Here’s a closer look.
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When Can You Tint Windows on a Leased Vehicle?
Whether you live in a very hot climate or just appreciate a little privacy when driving, tinted windows may be a welcome addition to your driving experience. However, your dealer might not appreciate the upgrade and you could be violating your lease contract by making this type of modification.
While some lease agreements do allow for upgrades that might increase the value of your vehicle, tinted windows might not fit under the upgrade category. Some dealers might end up charging you extra to have the tint removed when you turn in your car or request that you remove it yourself — without damaging the windows — before turning the car in to avoid fees or penalties. Many car manufacturers and dealerships call this “excessive wear” on the vehicle and will charge a fee if they see signs of this type of damage to the original vehicle. Unless your dealer has already approved window tinting, you need to bring the leased vehicle back to the dealer in the same condition as when you picked it up from the lot minus the extra miles added.
You can always make sure your dealer approves of window tinting is to ask whether they offer tinting as part of a detailing or maintenance package. Some dealerships may offer window tinting services for an extra charge. Going this route means you can have the tinting done professionally and with a dealer’s approval.
End of Lease Requirements of Major Auto Manufacturers
When you turn in your vehicle, the dealership will do a thorough inspection to make sure the car has been well-maintained through the term of your lease and that nothing has been modified without the dealership’s approval. Pursuant to your lease agreement and the results of the inspection, you’ll be charged for excessive wear and use, a category which often includes tinted windows or the damage their removal can leave behind. Depending on the terms of your agreement, the dealer could also ask you to remove the window tinting without damaging the glass or have the window tint removed professionally.
If you’re unsure whether you will be charged, there are some companies provide free end-of-lease inspections for signs of “excessive wear,” including tinted glass. They can also help remove the tint without damaging the vehicle before you turn in your vehicle.
Curious to know which dealers might be open to having the windows tinted? Here’s a quick look at the lease-end requirements of major auto manufacturers:
- Audi: Audi requires a vehicle inspection before the lease agreement ends, which will determine whether window tinting is considered “Excess Wear.” Fees apply to any excess wear.
- BMW: If there is any excess wear and use present, you will receive an estimated cost for repair shortly after your vehicle inspection. This may include tinted windows, depending on your lease agreement, the make and model of your vehicle, and the dealership.
- Ford: Excess wear and use charges apply for glass damage. Before returning your vehicle, check with the dealer to determine if the glass needs to be repaired because of tinted windows or window tinting removal that might have left scratches on the glass.
- GM: Call to verify whether tinted windows are considered excess wear and tear. If financed through Ally Bank, charges for tinted windows will apply. If it’s a Chrysler, tinted windows fall under the “Excessive Exterior Wear” category, and extra charges will apply.
- Honda: The end of lease inspection will reveal whether there may be extra charges for tinting windows. You may be required to have window tinting removed or it will be charged as “Excess Wear and Use.”
- Hyundai: Window tinting may fall under the “Wear and Use” category so any charges will be determined at the inspection.
- Kia: Make necessary repairs, including restoring windows that have been tinted, to avoid excess wear and use charges.
- Lexus: Extra charges may apply for vehicle modifications. Check your lease agreement or call the dealer to determine whether the make and model of the car you’ve leased is subject to extra charges if the windows are tinted.
- Mazda: You can tint the windows but may be advised to remove the window tinting during the pre-inspection or risk being charged “Excess Wear and Use” fees.
- Mercedes-Benz: Tinted windows are permitted as long as it was authorized and/or installed by an authorized Mercedes-Benz dealer.
- MINI: Tinted windows are permitted if they are professionally applied and do not leave holes or scratches after removal.
- Nissan: You can tint the windows but will incur a charge if the tint is peeling, fading, bubbling, mismatched, or is considered to be a safety issue.
- Porsche: You can get windows tinted through a Porsche dealer to avoid scratches and fees, but charges apply if you got the tint independently and it causes damage to the windows.
- Subaru: A complimentary lease-end vehicle inspection will determine whether window tinting is considered “Excess Wear and Use” and subject to charges.
- Tesla: Unauthorized alterations or modifications may incur charges, so you’ll need to get approval from the dealer before tinting the windows.
- Toyota: Extra charges may apply for vehicle modifications. Check your lease agreement or call the dealer to determine whether the make and model of the car you’ve leased is subject to extra charges if the windows are tinted.
- Volkswagen: A vehicle inspection before the lease agreement ends will determine whether window tinting is considered ‘Excess Wear” and therefore subject to charges.
In short, if you want to have an easy time of tinting your leased car, go with a manufacturer that makes its tint policies clear. MINI, Porsche, Nissan, Mercedes-Benz, and Mazda all have the most relaxed policies on window tinting. So if window tint is really important to you (some people get it to help avoid skin cancer), choose one of these brands.
So can you tint windows on a leased car? With some brands, yes, with others, you should check with your individual dealer before leasing. Even if they do say it’s fine but they ask you to remove it prior to lease end, make sure you go to a shop that won’t damage the glass during install or removal or else you’ll be charged damages upon returning the car. It’s also worth asking your dealership to remove the tint once all other paperwork is done so if they damage the glass, you won’t be charged. A reputable dealership should not have a problem with this.