Is It OK to Off Road with a Leased Vehicle? Will I be Charged for Scratches and Stains? »

Is It OK to Off Road with a Leased Vehicle? Will I be Charged for Scratches and Stains?

If you grew up like many of us at did, you probably went off roading with your friends at least a few times. In your high school days, you would have been driving (or riding in) a used 4X4 of some sort, which had been thoroughly cleaned since the last time it had been in the mud or on the beach. It was fun. But sometimes there are more serious reasons you might need to take a vehicle off-road. Maybe you work on a farm or you need to haul some construction materials up a sand dune. When you have a leased vehicle you plan to do these things with, it's a good idea to know what kind of damages are accepted and what kind you'll be charged for.


Small dents are generally acceptable. If they are larger than about an inch in diameter, you might be charged. If a softball makes a dent in your vehicle, you've got a problem.


As you'd expect, you'll incur charges for cracked windows. You'll have to have them replaced. Cracked windows aren't particularly likely to be caused by off road driving. Just be careful.


If your vehicle suffers a small scratch, less than 3 inches long, you probably won't be charged. Longer scratches or areas containing a dense field of scratches will be penalized. This is a reason we do not recommend off-roading in the forest. Tree branches and other obstacles pose a high risk of scratching.

Wheel Scratches

Perhaps wheel scratches are the most troublesome damages to avoid for lessees. It's sometimes hard to correctly park a car without scratching the wheels against the curb. Likewise, it's hard to avoid wheel scratches when you're out four wheeling on rocky terrain. You might consider changing the wheels during your leasing period. See if you can find some from a salvage yard because even small wheel scratches might cause fees.

Interior Stains

A few small stains might be overlooked but expect to pay the price if your seats and floor mats are in bad shape. If you plan to go muddin' (off roading in the mud), cover all of the interior surfaces in case you have to board the vehicle with muddy shoes on. Also, be careful when you have coffee and food inside the car. They can stain your interior pretty well!

What to Do Before Returning the Damaged Vehicle

Check your car for all of the types of damages we've discussed. If it needs repairs, get them done at a body shop or by a detailer. You'll pay less than the dealership would charge you. Just make sure they don't replace any parts unless it's with OEM replacements. Dent repairs should be the "paintless" type if at all possible. Also, clean the interior as best you can.

Don't try any off road driving unless you have a vehicle that's built for it. If you try to take a BMW 2 series through a ditch, it's not going to go well. You'll be looking at significant charges. Be cautious!

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