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Do Leased Cars Have to Be Serviced at the Dealership?

Do Leased Cars Have to Be Serviced at the Dealership?

| by Michelle Yang, Esq.

Regular car service and maintenance is important to keep your car in good working condition over time. If you have leased a car that needs to be serviced, it’s importance to make sure that service is handled at the right place and at the right time.

Dealerships often emphasize the importance of getting maintenance done at their service center, but is this a requirement or just a recommendation? Leased cars do not have to be serviced exclusively at the dealership. While some lease agreements require the lessee to perform all maintenance at the dealership, it’s not a universal rule.

Has your leased car been experiencing issues under warranty? An experienced lemon law attorney can help. Cali Lemon Lawyers by Prestige Legal Solutions, P.C. is has helped thousands of consumers get the compensation they deserve. Contact us today for a 100% free case evaluation ¿Hablas Español? Contáctenos ahora para recibir más información.

In this article, we will consider the factors that determine whether leased cars have to be serviced at the dealership and pro tips for maintaining your leased car.

Everything You Need To Know About Service For Your Leased Car

What are the Legal Provisions For Car Leases and Servicing?

A proper understanding of the legal and warranty provisions for leasing a car will help you resolve your concerns and questions about servicing your leased car.

For example, if you have issues with a repair made under warranty, you can refer to the warranty terms to determine weather those repairs should be covered.

If your car issues persist even after series of maintenance, your car might be a lemon. In that case, you can leverage the lemon law for leased cars to get a refund of your down payment, monthly lease payments, or get a replacement vehicle.

The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act For Leased Vehicles

According to The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, dealerships should not deny warranty coverage because lessees choose to have routine maintenance or repairs outside the dealership. The MWA has several key provisions that are relevant to leased vehicles:

1. Clear and Conspicuous Disclosure of Warranty

The leasing company must clearly and conspicuously disclose the terms and conditions of warranties. This includes information about the coverage, exclusions, and the duration of the warranty. The warranty must be in writing and provided to the consumer in a reasonable time. For example, a new car warranty typically lasts for three years or 36,000 miles. The warranty may cover defects in materials and workmanship, but it may not cover damages caused by misuse or neglect.

2. Tie-In Sales Provisions

The Act prohibits tie-in sales provisions, which means that a warrantor cannot require a consumer to buy an item or service from a particular company to maintain warranty coverage. This provision can be relevant if the manufacturer or lessor tries to stipulate that certain services must be performed exclusively at a particular dealership or service center.

3. Express and Implied Warranties

The MWA recognizes both express and implied warranties. Express warranties are those written or orally stated by the manufacturer or seller. Implied warranties are those implied by law, such as the Implied Warranty of Merchantability.

Factors to Consider Before Choosing Where to Service Your Leased Car

Factors to Consider Before Choosing Where to Service Your Leased Car

While you have the freedom to choose where to service your leased car, there are several factors you should consider before making a decision. These factors include:

1. Lease Agreement Terms

Review your lease agreement to see if there are any specific requirements or recommendations regarding where you should service the vehicle during the lease period. Some leasing companies may stipulate that certain maintenance or repairs must be done at the dealership.

2. Cost

Dealerships often charge higher service rates than independent shops due to higher overhead costs, such as maintaining large facilities and employing certified technicians. Independent shops, on the other hand, may have lower overhead costs, allowing them to offer more competitive pricing for routine maintenance services.

It might be best to get quotes from multiple sources so you can choose the most suitable. However, endeavor to consider quality too. Just like in car sales, cheaper does not always mean better.

2. Quality of Service

Look for a reputable and reliable service center with experienced technicians. Most dealership technicians are factory-trained and certified, providing a level of expertise that may not be readily available at independent shops.

On the other hand, some independent shops may have specialized expertise in certain types of vehicles or repairs, especially older models or niche brands.

3. Genuine Parts

Dealerships typically use genuine OEM car parts, while independent shops may use aftermarket or non-OEM parts. While aftermarket parts can be cost-effective, they may not always meet the same quality standards as OEM parts.

Using non-OEM parts may not void your warranty, but it’s essential to check with your manufacturer’s policy.

4. Warranty Coverage

Maintaining warranty coverage is important to protect against unexpected repair costs. Some manufacturers may void your warranty if you have your car serviced at an independent shop within the warranty period while others may allow it as long as the shop is authorized or uses genuine parts. Check with your manufacturer’s warranty policy for specific details.

5. Convenience

You also need to consider which option is more accessible, especially if you have a busy schedule or limited time for car maintenance. If Dealership service departments often offer extended hours, making it easy to schedule and drop off your car for service.

However, you may opt for independent shops if they’re closer to you and also offer flexible scheduling options, such as early morning or evening appointments.

6. Relationship with the Service Provider

Building a relationship with a trusted mechanic at an independent shop can provide more personalized service and attention to your car’s needs. They can become familiar with your car’s history and driving habits, allowing for more tailored maintenance recommendations and proactive care. 

Lease Agreements and Maintenance Requirements

Lease Agreements and Maintenance Requirements

A lease agreement, also known as lease contract, is a legally binding contract that outlines the terms and conditions of a car lease. It specifies the responsibilities of both the lessee (the person leasing the car) and the lessor (the leasing company or individual).

Most lease agreements include standard clauses related to car maintenance responsibilities. These clauses typically outline the lessee’s responsibility to:

  • Follow the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule, including oil change, tire rotations, and other regular maintenance services.
  • Keep the vehicle in good working condition and free from excessive wear and tear.
  • Promptly notify the leasing company of any repairs or maintenance needs.
  • Return the vehicle in the same condition, except for normal wear and tear.

Warranty Coverage For Leased Vehicles

Warranty Coverage For Leased Vehicles

Leased vehicles are typically covered by the manufacturer’s warranty, which covers defects in materials and workmanship. The lessee is responsible for paying any deductibles associated with warranty repairs.

In addition to the manufacturer’s warranty, some lease agreements may also include a wear-and-tear maintenance package to cover excessive wear and tear beyond normal use, such as damage to the interior or exterior of the vehicle.

Also, the dealership may offer maintenance services for leased vehicles.

However, you are not obligated to have your car serviced at the dealership unless expressly stated in the lease contract. You can choose any qualified auto repair shop to perform maintenance on your leased car.

It is also important to keep detailed records of all maintenance performed on your leased car. This documentation can help you avoid any disputes with the car leasing company regarding the condition of the vehicle at the end of the car lease term.

Servicing Leased Cars: Dealership vs. Independent Service

For servicing your leased car, you have two main options: the dealership where you leased the car or an independent car service provider.

Both options have their unique advantages and disadvantages, and the best choice for you will depend on your individual needs and preferences. Let explore the advantages of both services so you can make the best decision that aligns with your budget.

Servicing Leased Cars: Dealership vs. Independent Service

Advantages of Servicing at the Dealership

  • Qualified Technicians: Dealership technicians are factory-trained and certified to work on your specific car model. So, they have the knowledge and experience to properly diagnose and repair any issues that may arise.
  • Genuine Parts: Dealerships generally use OEM parts to ascertain that the parts are of high quality and are optimally compatible with your car.
  • Warranty Coverage: If your leased car is still under warranty, servicing it at the dealership often helps guarantee that the fixes comply with the manufacturer’s specifications. This is essential to maintaining warranty coverage for the duration of the lease.
  • Software Updates: Dealerships are more likely to have the latest software updates for your vehicle, which can improve performance, address safety issues, and enhance various features. This is especially important for modern vehicles with advanced electronics.

Advantages of Using Independent Service Providers

  • Lower Costs: Independent service providers typically charge lower rates than dealerships, often due to lower overhead costs. This can help you save money on routine maintenance services.
  • More Flexibility: Independent shops may offer more flexibility in terms of scheduling and appointment times, in cases like roadside assistance. They may also be more willing to negotiate with you on the cost of repairs.
  • Personal Attention: Independent shops often provide more personalized service than dealerships. This means that you may get to know your qualified mechanic beyond the service appointment and feel more comfortable discussing your car’s needs.
  • Access to Specialized Services: Some independent shops specialize in certain types of repairs, such as European cars or hybrid vehicles. This can be helpful if you have a car that requires specialized care.

The best way to choose a service provider for your leased car is to do your research. Read online reviews, and talk to experienced lawyers for recommendations. Schedule a free call with us at Cali Lemon Lawyers to discuss your situation and get the best solution suitable for you.

Tips for Maintaining Your Leased Vehicle Effectively

Maintaining your leased vehicle effectively is crucial to enhance its longevity, maximize its value, and avoid any additional charges at the end of the lease term. Here are some essential tips for keeping your leased car in top condition:

  1. Understand the lease terms.
  2. Follow the recommended maintenance schedule.
  3. Keep detailed records.
  4. Use authorized service centers with proper quality control.
  5. Pay attention to routine maintenance checks as engine oil, transmission fluid, brake fluid, coolant, tire pressure, etc.
  6. Address minor issues promptly.
  7. Drive responsibly.
  8. Protect the interior.
  9. Maintain good car hygiene.
  10. Consider additional protection plans such as wear-and-tear coverage
  11. If you no longer want or can’t afford to keep your car, you can apply to break the lease early. Note that you may have to pay a hefty early termination fee.


While some car manufacturers may recommend having your leased vehicle serviced at their dealerships, you are not legally obligated to do so. You have the freedom to choose any qualified and reputable service provider, including independent shops, for your maintenance and repair needs.

When making this decision, consider the factors explained above. Remember, maintaining your leased vehicle responsibly will not only ensure its longevity and value but also protect you from charges or disputes at the end of the lease term.

If your leased car is a lemon, our expert lemon law attorneys at Cali Lemon Lawyers are always available to help you get compensation under the California Lemon Law.

Contact us today to get started.

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