A 'civics' lesson for a good dealer who done wrong

I live in Southern California and just finished the first year of a three-year lease on a Honda Civic EX with American Honda Finance Corp. (AFHC). I took the car in to my local Honda dealer for its 15,000 mile scheduled maintenance service. During a routine road test immediately following the service, the service tech got into an accident (less than a mile from the dealership) with another car driven by an uninsured motorist. The driver-side airbag deployed on my car and it was good to learn the service tech is OK.

The assistant service manager said they’re taking full responsibility for the accident and have their own body shop next door to the dealer to fix the car with original Honda parts, yada-yada. My car looks like it was T-boned…with damage to the driver’s side quarter-panel, wheel and front bumper/headlight area. I’m being told it’s $6500 worth of damage and have no idea about the crumple zone.

I’m concerned about the crumple zone being affected and concerned about being held responsible by AFCH for any excessive wear and tear when they send the third-party inspector out when the lease is up (don’t know if a letter from the dealer acknowledging what they did would help).

I’m on my 4th Honda. Although I’ve never purchased or leased any of them from this Honda dealer (they’ve haven’t had the exact vehicle I was looking for or matched my best deal each time), I’ve been faithfully going to them for maintenance and service for the last 10 years. During this time, I know they’ve profitted from the thousands of dollars I’ve spent there over the years.

Instead of agreeing to fix the car, do you think I can insist and persist that they pay off my current lease from AFCH and put me in a new Honda lease, in a new Civic EX (equipped with what I have now) at or about the same price I’m paying?

I think you should certainly try to leave the car with them and drive something else off the lot. Can I talk with your supervisor may be a helpful phrase. Problems and wrecked and repaired cars are not uncommon, thinking of a voyager and a transmission leak that started after a major repair and after the shop fixed it the 3rd time under warranty we traded it in. I remember the shop quote, We’ll keep homering the warranty but things don’t seem to line up quite right.

Read your lease. You may not have a choice in this. You don’t own the vehicle. And $6500 will not be enough to “total” it.

In short, they may not need your approval to proceed.


A quick look at the AFCH site provides a little info and you should read the fine print on your paperwork carefully.

The site refers to a lease from AFCH as basically having a GAP coverage unless you finance the vehicle through a retail sales contract. With the latter it states you must buy the GAP policy separately exc. in the state of NY.

It also says that you should contact customer service and that you are responsible for excess wear and tear to be determined with an inspection within 2 months of the lease end.

Your situation is a bit different because the dealer was involved in the car wreck. One thing you should not do is take a verbal promise from either AFCH or the dealer.
Make sure who is going to do what is in writing.

I think there are plenty of creative solutions here - and I think you should explore some of them.

IMHO, the best tactic is to explain what you’d like to do, then be flexible about how to get there.

Everything hinges on the quality of the repair. If the repair is done right, nobody, not even the third party inspector, should be able to tell the car was in a collision, so that would be the main issue for me.

If I were in your shoes, I would ask the repaired car be inspected by one of the third party inspectors whose job it is to check cars at the end of the lease, at the dealership’s expense.* If this inspector has no issues with the repairs, that should resolve that issue for you.

*You should ask to pay for this inspection and be reimbursed by the dealership so the inspector thinks you are paying for the inspection and, therefore, has no conflict of interest.

Since it is not your car and belongs to Honda leasing, I suggest you have a conversation with them on how they want to handle it. They can then work with the dealer on the specifications for the repairs to their satisfaction. Then you should not be liable for any “wear and tear” items resulting from the repair. You are really just a bystander on this since it is a leased car but you are liable just the same. That’s just another reason not to lease.