Car Laws & Safety

Can You Modify a Leased Car? [Avoid Costly Mistakes]

You love the new car you just signed a lease on, but you would also like to make some modifications. Maybe you want to upgrade the brakes or you would prefer sports seats.

Maybe you would like to have a different color or a custom look for your ride. Are you allowed to make these kinds of modifications on a car that you are only leasing?

Most car leases prohibit you from making permanent modifications. As a general rule, you should not modify any leased car, unless you can undo the modification before turning the car in.

However, it depends on the type of lease you signed. Your car lease will dictate what if any modifications are allowed. It is important to note any stipulations or penalties that will come into effect if you do make modifications, such as the loss of your deposit or other financial penalties. 

If you have leased a car and want to make some changes without any penalties there is still a great option for you! You can make changes that are either temporary or easy to reverse.

If you know that you will want to make modifications to your automobile, it is most likely a far better choice for you to go ahead and purchase the vehicle. If you have already leased a car and you want to modify it, you can look into purchasing the car at the end of the lease rather than paying the penalties and fees for doing permanent modifications.

Should You Modify Your Leased Car?

When you decide to modify a car that you have leased it is of the utmost importance that the very first thing you do is consult your lease.

You will want to be especially aware of any penalties or insurance issues that could come into play if you make modifications to the vehicle in question. If your lease does allow for you to make modifications, pay special attention to any specific requirements that must be met when making the changes. 

Can you modify a leased car if you plan to buy it

If you plan to buy your leased car then you could modify it. If you already lease a car that you are in love with and want to modify, you should look into purchasing the car at the end of your lease term. Make Sure your lease has a buy out clause. 

Types of Car Modifications 

There are three types of modifications that you can consider making: permanent, semi-permanent, and temporary. 

Permanent Modifications

Only make permanent modifications to a leased vehicle if the lease allows for it and the modification fits within the set parameters of any specifications that the lease may outline. Permanent modifications would include things such as upgrades to the brake or suspension system of the vehicle or a new paint job. 

Semi-permanent Modifications 

These are the types of modifications that you could make and never reverse if you owned the car, but are still easy enough to undo to be applicable for some leased cars. Semi-permanent modifications would include upgrading tires or rims. 

Temporary Modifications

Temporary modifications are the way to go if you are leasing your vehicle. These are changes that you can easily reverse to take the car back to its stock condition that leaves no permanent changes or damage to the vehicle. Temporary modifications would include using a product like plasti-dip or decals to change the look of the car. 

Can you change wheels on a leased car?

You can upgrade your car’s tires for either performance, appearance, or both. Tire upgrades can make your car handle better, ride better and look better. The nice thing about upgrading your tires is that it is an expense you would be responsible for anyway.

Most car leases will require you to take care of routine maintenance which includes the tires. If you opt to upgrade the tires, you can simply replace your tires with the factory ones before you turn the car back in. 

Changing hubcaps or rims is a great option to get a different look as well. This can range from rather inexpensive to completely over the top in price depending on what you choose. 

Can you tint a leased car?

You may tint your leased car since those are temporary improvements that can be removed. Having your windows tinted can be an awesome upgrade to your car because it actually provides you with some serious advantages. If you spend a lot of time traveling in your car, the UV protection afforded by some window tints can actually be beneficial to your health.

Just like tinted windows protect your skin, they protect your car’s interior from intense rays of sun that can cause fading and damage. The tint may also work to help hide items left in your car making your vehicle less vulnerable to thieves. 

Tinted windows are a job you should hire a professional for. The tint used can be hard to handle and the job will look cheaply done if there are tears, wrinkles or bubbles in the final application. 

Can I Put a Spoiler on a Leased Car

No, you may not put a spoiler on a leased car. This is because the spoiler must be attached through holes in the body of the car which would be a permanent modification and therefore nor acceptable to most standard leases.

Can You Put an Exhaust on a Leased Car

An exhaust system change to a car is a permanent change to the working systems of the car and would therefore violate a standard lease. You should note that all cars come with an exhaust as a legal requirement, so this only speaks to modifying or upgrading the exhaust.

4 Best Modifications for Leased Cars

Of course, you don’t want to blend in and drive the same stock car that everyone is driving. Just because you have leased your car and are not allowed to make any permanent modifications doesn’t mean that you can’t have some fun and make your car your very own.

Here are some great ideas for temporary and semi-permanent changes that are easy enough to make and will have your car feeling as individual as you are. 

A New Look

Painting a leased car is generally against the rules, but there are still some really cool options when it comes to changing up the look of your car. 

Plasti Dip

Plasti dip is a coating that can be sprayed on to the body of the vehicle to change the color. It is a rubbery substance that has the advantage of providing some protection for the vehicle. The major disadvantage to using Plasti dip is that it does not come with a high gloss finish if that is what you are looking for.

It is a fairly inexpensive method to choose from and can either be done by a professional or as a do-it-yourself project. When you need to go back to the original paint color, if the plasti dip has been applied correctly it can be peeled away easily. Then your car will be back to its original state with a simple wash and buff. 

Vinyl Wrap

Wrapping your car in vinyl to change the color is very similar to using plasti dip. It comes in a vast array of colors and is very affordable. Vinyl wrapping your car is something that can be done DIY or you can pay for a professional job. Unlike plasti dip, it can provide you with a gloss finish.

Vinyl wrap can even be used to cover only specific areas or to make intricate and custom designs. It is easy to remove and won’t damage your vehicle’s paint job. 

 A really popular modification is to wrap just your car’s sunroof. This is really easy to do. Almost anyone can DIY this project and it easily costs less than $100. If you aren’t interested in the look of a whole new paint job, another popular choice is to wrap other specific parts or hardware.

Decals 

Another option for changing the appearance of the outside body of the car is to use decals. These come in a range from rather cheap and very temporary to high-quality custom decals that can be semi-permanent. 

Bells and Whistles

You can actually create your own dealership upgrades with a little bit of research. Car dealers make many parts interchangeable, especially parts like those used in the trim such as handles which may come in different materials or styles.

You might be able to plug in certain electronic upgrades to the interior, too. Some cars may already contain the wiring for backup cameras, navigation systems, or more. There are many car forums where you can get great ideas for these kinds of options if you feel inclined to do the research. 

A Note About Illegal Car Modifications

There are lots of modifications and upgrades that you might see online on TV or in the movies but the truth is most of them are downright illegal. While underbody neon lights look really cool, there isn’t any actual advantage in having them and they could net you a major fine.

This is generally true of many of the popular illegal modifications, and some of them can even be dangerous to install in your vehicle. It is best to make sure that you keep any modifications that you make to any truck or car you drive street legal. 

Beware too, that the legality of any modifications to your vehicle may depend on the degree. For example, in many states, it is okay to tint vehicle windows, but not to darken them beyond a certain point.

This type of legality also applies to the exact height of a heightened suspension and other types of vehicle modifications. 

Final Thoughts

For some people with a particularly long lease, temporary modifications for a leased car might make sense. However, for the most part, modifying a leased vehicle is a bit of a waste of time.

You will not be able to keep your investment long-term. The best option for making modifications to a car is to buy the car.

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