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Fair wear and tear guide

Lease guide: what is fair wear and tear and how does it work in reality?

Any private motorist or commercial vehicle driver who likes to check out the facts instead of jumping into something without much thought should give themselves a pat on the back, as someone who clearly cares and likes to know what they’re getting into.

Chill. Many leasing firms are regulated, protecting customers

Fortunately, just like any respectable sector, the world of car and van leasing and contract hire is regulated, in this case by the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA). All member leasing companies have to play by the same rules, which helps reduce anxiety over potential de-hire penalty charges when a car or commercial vehicle is returned at the end of its lease or finance agreement. It’s worth noting, though, that not all vehicle manufacturers are BVRLA members, so they can admittedly sometimes be stricter over return condition.

Myth: vehicles must be returned in showroom condition

It can’t be denied that anyone who drives a leased car or van has a duty to take care of it, as it’s not their own vehicle when it boils down to it, and any damage will affect its resale value. However, private motorists and especially commercial vehicle drivers needn’t be put off leasing out of paranoia that they could face a crazy bill at the end of the contract because of minor scuffs and dents. The BVRLA and its member leasing brokers appreciate that it’s impossible to return a car or van in pristine condition after a contract hire deal of 1, 2, 3 or more years, as even vehicles driven by the most careful custodians will end up with at least one light scratch or stone chip, for example.

Fair wear and tear

When any vehicle is used, it gradually deteriorates, which is essentially what fair wear and tear is, as opposed to damage picked up from one or more definite events like crashes, negligent or harsh treatment, or inappropriate stowing of items such as tools or cargo. Some leasing funders don’t check vehicles at all, a number are known to be more lenient because they realise customers will be more likely to return for another lease deal, whilst some firms are admittedly stricter over vehicles that are returned in poorer condition than agreed in the contract, which will result in the leasing firm losing money when they sell the car or van on.

Inspecting your lease vehicle before returning it

Two to three months before the end of your leasing contract, choose a time when it’s light enough outside, dry, free from distractions and you’ve got the opportunity to get on your hands and knees and have a good look round your freshly-washed vehicle, outside and in, ideally with the help of a friend or relative. The leasing company will inspect and appraise the vehicle’s body panels, roof, doors, bonnet, wheels, tyres, lights, windows, interior, accessories and paperwork, so checking it yourself will give you a head start along with time to book it in for a spruce-up.

How strict are BVRLA rules for the return condition of cars?

For a complete summary of the their latest guidelines as of 2016, outlining what is generally acceptable when a car is returned and what on the other hand is a big 'no no', visit our blog article on the subject.

It’s generally more lenient with lease vans and other commercial vehicles

Appreciating that self-employed businesspeople along with firms and organisations small and large either need vans and other vehicles to make money or provide services, perhaps even as relied-on charities, the BVRLA is once again fair in how it says the end-of-lease process should work for such vehicles. For inspection and appraisal purposes, they’ve split commercial vehicles up into three zones, which you can read about in our article on the subject.

Stuff present at the start should be there at the end

As you’d expect, a leased car or van must be serviced and repaired in line with the manufacturer’s requirements, and any repairs carried out to professional standards. All electronic gismos and gadgets should still work, no warning light(s) at all can be showing, it needs to have enough fuel in it to enable the collection, and should be roadworthy, with no rust or corrosion having occurred. All paperwork and documents such as the user manual, V5C and service book should be present and in good condition on return, and all originally-provided keys should be handed over.

Want to know more?

If you have any questions about de-hire charges and rules relating to end-of-lease cars or vans, we’d be more than happy to help out, so just pick up the phone or send us an email.