How to Return a Car at the End of a Lease | Edmunds.com

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edited May 2017 in Editorial
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How to Return a Car at the End of a Lease | Edmunds.com

If you prepare for the end of your vehicle's lease, you can avoid extra costs.

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  • kirkhilles1kirkhilles1 Member Posts: 863
    I'm doing my first car lease (after extensive number crunching and dealing with old cars) and I don't understand the "Replace the tires early" comment.

    My understanding (maybe incorrect) is this. If the tires have enough tread (legally not bald), you're good. If you have to replace them at inspection, then my understanding is that they DON'T HAVE TO BE ORIGINAL OEM TIRES. So, instead of paying $600-$1,000 for new tires (not cheap for a good set), then just find any place that sells used tires or super cheap tires and put a set on. As long as they match, I believe you are good.

    I can't believe that someone who recommend spending that kind of cash. My understanding is that the way to "win" is to not spend money in fear. Make the appointment and BE THERE at the inspection. MAKE THEM charge you for things and then that becomes the worst-case-scenario and you'll have time to get a body shop or DPR place try and beat it (and/or tire shops or whatever).
  • jerseygal7jerseygal7 Member Posts: 1
    I can certainly understand a charge being required if the leased car is not returned in good condition. However, how many people are aware that Buick charges a $495 return fee, just as a return fee? I learned about it as I was signing the lease papers; I walked out... How many of Buick's customers are advised of this questionably ethical fee before they agree to the lease. The dealership told me that this is a bank fee and their hands are tied. I would like to know what experience other consumers have had with this add-on and why Buick fails to mention this in any of the ads I have seen?
  • MichaellMichaell ColoradoModerator Posts: 186,146

    I can certainly understand a charge being required if the leased car is not returned in good condition. However, how many people are aware that Buick charges a $495 return fee, just as a return fee? I learned about it as I was signing the lease papers; I walked out... How many of Buick's customers are advised of this questionably ethical fee before they agree to the lease. The dealership told me that this is a bank fee and their hands are tied. I would like to know what experience other consumers have had with this add-on and why Buick fails to mention this in any of the ads I have seen?

    It's not just Buick. Almost every brand has a disposition fee associated with a lease. If you get another car from the same brand, the fee is waived. Or, if you trade out before the lease end, you don't owe it.

    I just did this a month ago. I was leasing a Hyundai with two payments left; traded it in for a VW Jetta with almost the exact same payment. The VW dealer paid off my lease and I didn't owe the disposition fee.

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  • karhill1karhill1 Member Posts: 164
    The replace the tires suggestion is utter foolishness. What is the difference between replacing the tires after two years or at the end of the lease? Furthermore, the need to replace the tires at the end of the lease is not a sure thing. Also, an excess wear charge would be less costly than the cost of new tires.

    Perhaps Mr. Rayfield is not quite the expert on leasing this article suggests he is.
  • vitaliy3vitaliy3 Member Posts: 1
    Hello,
    What charges can be applied if I'm buying out car before end of lease. Dealer say I have to pay $700 fir inspection as well as return fee. Is this fair?

    Thanks
  • MichaellMichaell ColoradoModerator Posts: 186,146
    vitaliy3 said:

    Hello,
    What charges can be applied if I'm buying out car before end of lease. Dealer say I have to pay $700 fir inspection as well as return fee. Is this fair?

    Thanks

    If you are buying the car out, there shouldn't be any charges. Disposition fee is assessed if you turn the car in and not lease another from the same brand.

    Inspection? For what?

    What state is this?

    Also, check with other dealers to see if you get a consistent story.

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  • morey000morey000 Member Posts: 384
    disposition fee for my land rover... is $50.
  • ArnieherberArnieherber Member Posts: 1
    My daughter's lease on her Infiniti is ending this month. Nissan will wave the disposition fee if she purchases another Nissan product. However, a Toyota dealer contacted her and indicated she could return the can to their dealership and they would wave the disposition fee. I thought you had to return the same brand to the dealership covering that brand? Does this make any sense?
  • MichaellMichaell ColoradoModerator Posts: 186,146

    My daughter's lease on her Infiniti is ending this month. Nissan will wave the disposition fee if she purchases another Nissan product. However, a Toyota dealer contacted her and indicated she could return the can to their dealership and they would wave the disposition fee. I thought you had to return the same brand to the dealership covering that brand? Does this make any sense?

    The Toyota dealer isn't waiving the fee, but likely paying for it as part of the trade value she is getting.

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  • kyfdxkyfdx Moderator Posts: 190,807

    My daughter's lease on her Infiniti is ending this month. Nissan will wave the disposition fee if she purchases another Nissan product. However, a Toyota dealer contacted her and indicated she could return the can to their dealership and they would wave the disposition fee. I thought you had to return the same brand to the dealership covering that brand? Does this make any sense?

    The Toyota dealer is just going to take her car in trade... .or, return the vehicle to IFS and take a hit, if the value is less than the payoff. You can be certain that any hit the dealer takes is going to be reflected in the price they offer on their new vehicle.

    But, your daughter shouldn't be pressured to get an Infiniti, just to avoid a $500 fee. Three years is a long time to drive the next vehicle, and she should weigh all of her options.

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  • farshidfarshid Member Posts: 1
    How much wear and tear is ok for the wheels? I have a mercedes G wagon I need to return and the front tires have some wear. thanks
  • kyfdxkyfdx Moderator Posts: 190,807
    farshid said:

    How much wear and tear is ok for the wheels? I have a mercedes G wagon I need to return and the front tires have some wear. thanks

    Tires? Most leasing companies require 4/32" of tread depth, at turn in.

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  • DianaGSDianaGS CaliforniaMember Posts: 3
    I turned my leased Toyota in. I believe the condition was perfect.The dealer was thrilled because I only had 31,000 miles on the 3 year old car. 3 months later I got an invoice for $350 disposition fee + over $337 in 'excessive wear and use'. When I turned the car it in was accepted. Of course I'm going to challenge since nothing is itemized, but I wonder if there is any law protecting consumers in matters like this. (I live in California). Is there any regulation that requires the lessor must let you know at the time of inspection that you passed?
  • kyfdxkyfdx Moderator Posts: 190,807
    DianaGS said:

    I turned my leased Toyota in. I believe the condition was perfect.The dealer was thrilled because I only had 31,000 miles on the 3 year old car. 3 months later I got an invoice for $350 disposition fee + over $337 in 'excessive wear and use'. When I turned the car it in was accepted. Of course I'm going to challenge since nothing is itemized, but I wonder if there is any law protecting consumers in matters like this. (I live in California). Is there any regulation that requires the lessor must let you know at the time of inspection that you passed?

    Most banks use an independent inspector to give a "pre-inspection", two to three weeks before lease end. They print out a report, on the spot. I'm surprised you didn't have this.

    Was your bank Toyota Financial Services? Just dropping off your car without an inspection is asking for trouble.

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  • DianaGSDianaGS CaliforniaMember Posts: 3
    It was Toyota Financial Services. Never had trouble turning in a leased car before. When I was told everything was OK, I didn't think there was anything further required. I turned in my car early, and I certainly could have fixed whatever they found wrong myself if they had told me. I relied upon their good business reputation, I guess. I was told there WAS an inspection and the car was fine.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    If you have to replace the tires on a leased car, they MUST match manufacturer's recommended guidelines. So if you install a set of cheap tires on your high end luxury car, you're probably going to get dinged for that.
  • kyfdxkyfdx Moderator Posts: 190,807
    DianaGS said:

    It was Toyota Financial Services. Never had trouble turning in a leased car before. When I was told everything was OK, I didn't think there was anything further required. I turned in my car early, and I certainly could have fixed whatever they found wrong myself if they had told me. I relied upon their good business reputation, I guess. I was told there WAS an inspection and the car was fine.

    Most of the time, when you get an inspection, you get an immediate report (in print).

    It wouldn't hurt to call up TFS to complain, and also to complain to your dealer, about how they told you everything was fine.

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  • DianaGSDianaGS CaliforniaMember Posts: 3
    Will do NOW!
  • ABC3313ABC3313 Member Posts: 1
    We returned our leased Hyundai Dec 27,2018 and in excellent condition below allowed miles -we paid the final "turn-in"fee and have a received payment conformation from Hyundai finance. We never got any documents that indicated the lease was completed and paid in full from the dealership or Hyundai finance. I requested such documents and they said that they don't do that anymore(?) The last lease from them and when I have purchased and financed at a bank always gave me final paid in full paperwork and that the car had been turned in(lease). Please explain.
  • kyfdxkyfdx Moderator Posts: 190,807
    ABC3313 said:

    We returned our leased Hyundai Dec 27,2018 and in excellent condition below allowed miles -we paid the final "turn-in"fee and have a received payment conformation from Hyundai finance. We never got any documents that indicated the lease was completed and paid in full from the dealership or Hyundai finance. I requested such documents and they said that they don't do that anymore(?) The last lease from them and when I have purchased and financed at a bank always gave me final paid in full paperwork and that the car had been turned in(lease). Please explain.

    You leased the car, you didn't own it, and you didn't put a lien on it. No paperwork needed. Evidently, you received a final bill, and you paid it. All finished!

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  • londonchiclondonchic Member Posts: 1
    Am I under any obligation to point out anything an inspector might miss? Either I hit something or somebody hit me, and the bumper on my Nissan Rogue was pushed out a little. A friend at the body shop pushed it back into place, but he said some of the plastic clips holding it in place were broken, so it was just a temporary fix. He recommended not having it fixed, and hopefully the inspector would miss it. My husband says he would feel bad for the next person to buy the car if it had those broken clips, and he thinks we should point it out. Of course, if the inspector see it, this is a moot point, but is there a high likelihood that anything the inspector misses would be passed on to a future buyer?
  • kyfdxkyfdx Moderator Posts: 190,807
    edited March 2019

    Am I under any obligation to point out anything an inspector might miss? Either I hit something or somebody hit me, and the bumper on my Nissan Rogue was pushed out a little. A friend at the body shop pushed it back into place, but he said some of the plastic clips holding it in place were broken, so it was just a temporary fix. He recommended not having it fixed, and hopefully the inspector would miss it. My husband says he would feel bad for the next person to buy the car if it had those broken clips, and he thinks we should point it out. Of course, if the inspector see it, this is a moot point, but is there a high likelihood that anything the inspector misses would be passed on to a future buyer?

    Without getting into ethical or legal considerations, and assuming the damage has no safety ramifications, it is not your job to point out any issues. The inspectors and future dealers who sell this car are experts. At some point, one of them will notice it, and then it will rest on them, whether to disclose it to a potential private owner.

    I'd look at it this way: Would you pay a body shop to repair this, if it were your own car? I wouldn't.

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  • wearandtearleasewearandtearlease Member Posts: 3
    So I turned in my leased 2016 town and country back to the dealer we got it from and leased a 2019 pacifica from the same sales guy we have used for 4 cars now. We purchased glasscoat lease guard when we got the van back in 2016 to protect us from minor wear and tear from carting 3 kids around for 3 years. The van is under its mileage but was not in perfect shape. During the negotiations they said they would pick up the disposition fee to the lease company because they went with a different lease company. Then he told me everything was good and he would be in touch. There was no end of lease inspection at that time. Its been a week or so and I am now getting phone calls from the dealer about excessive wear and tear. The lease guard company says I dont own the van anymore so I cant put a claim in for this "excessive wear and tear". Is it my responsibility to pay to bring the van up to there standards?
  • MichaellMichaell ColoradoModerator Posts: 186,146

    So I turned in my leased 2016 town and country back to the dealer we got it from and leased a 2019 pacifica from the same sales guy we have used for 4 cars now. We purchased glasscoat lease guard when we got the van back in 2016 to protect us from minor wear and tear from carting 3 kids around for 3 years. The van is under its mileage but was not in perfect shape. During the negotiations they said they would pick up the disposition fee to the lease company because they went with a different lease company. Then he told me everything was good and he would be in touch. There was no end of lease inspection at that time. Its been a week or so and I am now getting phone calls from the dealer about excessive wear and tear. The lease guard company says I dont own the van anymore so I cant put a claim in for this "excessive wear and tear". Is it my responsibility to pay to bring the van up to there standards?

    Not a lawyer, so take this with a shaker of salt...

    I'd be concerned about the "he told me ..." and "they said..." statements.

    If it's not in writing, I'm not sure how enforceable those statements are.

    Which bank was the T&C lease through? You are dealing with them, not your dealer.

    You may have to negotiate some sort of settlement regarding the damage; but first, I'd ask for an itemized list of what they feel is beyond normal wear and tear.

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  • wearandtearleasewearandtearlease Member Posts: 3
    Im dealing with the sales guy at this point. Im not sure who hes dealing with, his boss or the lease company chrysler capital.
  • MichaellMichaell ColoradoModerator Posts: 186,146

    Im dealing with the sales guy at this point. Im not sure who hes dealing with, his boss or the lease company chrysler capital.

    Let me call in some expert help for your situation. Not sure the dealer has a horse in this race, frankly.

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  • 28firefighter28firefighter Seattle, WAMember Posts: 7,743
    There are three discrete issues here that I think need to be addressed:

    (1) Is the dealer simply "grounding" the car for you and returning the lease or did they take it on trade and buy it from you? Sounds like the latter and it sounds like they have already started the grounding process, which means it is no longer your vehicle.

    (2) Did you have an end of lease inspection done PRIOR to taking the car in? If not, you have little room to argue about the damage the car was assessed to have upon lease return. Annoying, but that is why end of lease inspections are available.

    (3) What were the terms of the lease protection that you purchased? If it was not directly from the finance company (which it sounds like it wasn't), then it makes complete sense to me that the terms would require that you submit a claim PRIOR to grounding the car as a lease return. When lease wear and tear protection comes from the finance company, it acts a waiver upon return. When it is through a third-party company, it is your responsibility to submit the claim. Once you return the vehicle, it is the property of the finance company.

    I'm surprised the dealer is even getting involved here if they simply grounded the return. The finance company would be the one sending you an invoice for the lease end damage which it would be your responsibility to pay.
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  • stickguystickguy Member Posts: 42,011
    should be talking to the lease company directly. And pull out the contract for the protection plan.

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  • kyfdxkyfdx Moderator Posts: 190,807
    stickguy said:

    should be talking to the lease company directly. And pull out the contract for the protection plan.

    This...

    I'll guess the dealer took your car in trade (which means no disposition fee). And, this is a ruse to get more money out of you. Because, any wear and tear issues would come from the leasing bank. Also, why would your wear/tear lease company say you don't own the car any more, if you had just turned it in? (other than all of those plans having a high weasel factor).

    Not positive from here, but that's how it looks.

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  • CamryleaserCamryleaser Member Posts: 1
    I have to return my Toyota Camry 2016 and it has dents and scratches. My question is if I take it to a body shop and repair it do I still get charge at the dealer?
  • kyfdxkyfdx Moderator Posts: 190,807

    I have to return my Toyota Camry 2016 and it has dents and scratches. My question is if I take it to a body shop and repair it do I still get charge at the dealer?

    If the car is properly repaired before inspection, then they won't have anything to charge you for. In either case, you should take advantage of the pre-inspection offered by the bank. Never just drop your car at the dealer, without that inspection (because the dealer has nothing to do with it)

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  • roadburnerroadburner Member Posts: 14,708
    edited April 2019
    I used to handle lease turn-ins at my BMW dealer; if the tires were below 4/32” you would get charged unless you were a repeat customer an/or leasing or buying another BMW. If the tires had been replaced they had to be the same speed rating and type(RFTs if OEM). More than one lessee had Bubba at Billy Bob’s tire store tell them that “BMW don’t care what tars is on it.” so they bought a set of Chinese May-Pop Ditchfinders Those poor souls got hit for around $300 a corner. 

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  • wearandtearleasewearandtearlease Member Posts: 3
    the lease company says that my account is closed and we owe them nothing.
  • 28firefighter28firefighter Seattle, WAMember Posts: 7,743
    Well. That was anti-climactic. I was expecting more of a battle royale.
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  • kyfdxkyfdx Moderator Posts: 190,807

    the lease company says that my account is closed and we owe them nothing.

    Doesn’t sound good for your dealer’s honesty.

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  • jaqdripperjaqdripper Los AngelesMember Posts: 3
    If you are buying the car at lease end, is there still need for an inspection?
  • kyfdxkyfdx Moderator Posts: 190,807

    If you are buying the car at lease end, is there still need for an inspection?

    I can't think of a reason for an inspection, if you are purchasing the vehicle.

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  • scchangsterscchangster Member Posts: 1
    edited June 2019
    Is the disposition fee supposed to be in the lease contract you signed? I do not see the fee anywhere in my contract but I do see it now in my account online. If it is not in my contract, do I need to pay that fee?
  • MichaellMichaell ColoradoModerator Posts: 186,146

    Is the disposition fee supposed to be in the lease contract you signed? I do not see the fee anywhere in my contract but I do see it now in my account online. If it is not in my contract, do I need to pay that fee?

    It is mandatory, and should be in your contract. Can you post a redacted copy of it for us to review?

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  • irak325irak325 Member Posts: 1
    I recently had a pre-inspection and when the report came back I saw that the inspector missed a pretty major set of scrapes on the bottom of the frame. I would assume anyone looking at this car after it's turned in to re-sell would notice it but the inspector did not for whatever reason. Should I expect to be charged for this once I turn the car in? Or can they only charge me for the damages noted on the lease-end inspection?
  • LKYankee02LKYankee02 Member Posts: 1
    If I want to turn in my leased 2016 Highlander and the inspection goes ok (no dents, scratches tires only 1 year old and no interior damage) but I am over on mileage and there is a $350 disposition fee do I only pay mileage and disposition fee? Anything else I should expect? I have no interest in leasing or buying another Toyota. I just want out.
  • kyfdxkyfdx Moderator Posts: 190,807
    edited October 2019

    If I want to turn in my leased 2016 Highlander and the inspection goes ok (no dents, scratches tires only 1 year old and no interior damage) but I am over on mileage and there is a $350 disposition fee do I only pay mileage and disposition fee? Anything else I should expect? I have no interest in leasing or buying another Toyota. I just want out.

    That should be it. There may be sales tax due on those two amounts, however.

    Be sure to get the pre-turn-in inspection, so there are no surprises at turn-in time.

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  • MichaellMichaell ColoradoModerator Posts: 186,146
    kyfdx said:

    If I want to turn in my leased 2016 Highlander and the inspection goes ok (no dents, scratches tires only 1 year old and no interior damage) but I am over on mileage and there is a $350 disposition fee do I only pay mileage and disposition fee? Anything else I should expect? I have no interest in leasing or buying another Toyota. I just want out.

    That should be it. There may be sales tax due on those two amounts, however.

    Be sure to get the pre-turn-in inspection, so there are no surprises at turn-in time.
    I can confirm tax on the disposition fee; I paid it when I turned in my leased Jetta a couple of months ago.

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  • Giles76Giles76 Member Posts: 1
    Does it matter what tires are returned on a leased vehicle as long as they are in good condition?
  • roadburnerroadburner Member Posts: 14,708
    edited November 2019
    Most manufacturers require the same size and speed rating. As I noted a few months ago, I used to handle lease turn-ins at my BMW dealer; if the tires were below 4/32” you would get charged unless you were a repeat customer and/or leasing or buying another BMW. If the tires had been replaced they had to be the same speed rating and type(RFTs if OEM). OEM BMW tires have a star on the sidewall, but I didn't require that. More than one lessee had Bubba at Billy Bob's Laundromat, Tanning Salon, and Hi-Tech Tire Service tell them that “BMW don’t care what kinda tars is on it.” so they bought a set of Chinese May-Pop Ditchfinders. Those poor souls got hit for around $300 a corner.

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  • angryatGMangryatGM Member Posts: 1
    I had just turned in my GM lease. Everything was still immaculate in the vehicle and I had just bought 4 new tires. When I got the final turn in notice with price of what I owe I was surprised that the final bill was $1147.30! I knew I was going to have to pay the disposition fee but I had a charge of $648.00 for excessive wear and tear. I called them to find out what was wrong with the car because I never received the report or explanation and they told me because my tires were not the correct "speed rating" that they had to replace all 4 tires! I had no idea about this! I was only told about the tread on the tires. So because I had just paid for brand new tires I asked for them back! I think it is completely wrong of them to sneak things like that in on people. I will be in contact with GM until I get my tires or reimbursed for the brand new ones I had just put on. Absolutely ridiculous!
  • 28firefighter28firefighter Seattle, WAMember Posts: 7,743
    I'm sure you're frustrated, but did you have a lease end inspection done prior to grounding the vehicle? If so and they didn't say anything, you have grounds to fight it. If you just turned in the car without an inspection, then you're at their mercy unfortunately. They may goodwill refund some of it, but it will ultimately be an expensive learning lesson.

    Generally, the captive finance companies send out booklets outlining exactly what they're looking for, how they charge, and requirements for return. The tires being the exact same size, speed rating, and tire type are a common requirement.
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  • roadburnerroadburner Member Posts: 14,708
    angryatGM said:

    I had just turned in my GM lease. Everything was still immaculate in the vehicle and I had just bought 4 new tires. When I got the final turn in notice with price of what I owe I was surprised that the final bill was $1147.30! I knew I was going to have to pay the disposition fee but I had a charge of $648.00 for excessive wear and tear. I called them to find out what was wrong with the car because I never received the report or explanation and they told me because my tires were not the correct "speed rating" that they had to replace all 4 tires! I had no idea about this! I was only told about the tread on the tires. So because I had just paid for brand new tires I asked for them back! I think it is completely wrong of them to sneak things like that in on people. I will be in contact with GM until I get my tires or reimbursed for the brand new ones I had just put on. Absolutely ridiculous!

    In my opinion you lucked out; as I noted above, when I handled turn-ins at my BMW dealer lessees would get dinged for $1200 if the wrong tires were on the car. I think it's totally reasonable for a manufacturer to require that the tires have the same speed rating as OEM.

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  • awilson2020awilson2020 Member Posts: 1
    This article should be Titled" NEVER LEASE A CAR"
  • roadburnerroadburner Member Posts: 14,708
    Yawn.

    Mine: 1995 318ti Club Sport; 2014 M235i; 2009 Cooper Clubman; 1999 Wrangler; 1996 Speed Triple Challenge Cup Replica Wife's: 2015 X1 xDrive28i Son's: 2009 328i

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