Understanding the wear and tear policy on your lease car

What you need to know to avoid extra charges at the end of your finance agreement

Monday, 30th September 2019, 7:00 am
Updated Monday, 30th September 2019, 7:01 am
Wear and tear policies set out what is acceptable damage over the term of a lease agreement (Photo: Shutterstock)

A quarter of all drivers who lease their cars have been charged for repairs at the end of their agreement yet new research has found only half of motorists understand their wear and tear policy.

Ninety per cent of all new cars are bought on PCP or PCH finance and all such agreements include a clause setting out what is and isn’t fair wear and tear over the term of the lease.

The policy covers elements including excessive mileage, damage to the car as well as lost keys and log books. If a car doesn’t meet the standards set out in the agreement, the driver will be charged for repairs or replacements.

Research by Autoglass BodyRepair found that despite them being a standard part of a lease, half of drivers either didn’t understand or were unaware of the wear and tear terms and conditions in the agreement they signed.

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More than two thirds (69 per cent) said they were surprised to be handed a repair bill when they returned the car, with the average cost coming to £473. Nine in ten of those charged were billed for repair work as opposed to other problems. The most common charges are for scratches, chips and dents on the body, rips or burns to the upholstery and damage to wheels and tyres.

Even minor scratches could end up costing you hundreds of pounds (Photo: Shutterstock)

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To help drivers understand their agreements and avoid extra charges at the end of their lease, Autoglass BodyRepair has come up with the following advice

  • Find your contract 10-12 weeks before the end of your agreement and familiarise yourself with the fair wear and tear policy.
  • Appraise the vehicle -  do this after it’s been cleaned and in good light. Be as honest as you can, ask a friend or colleague to help. The British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association recommends you walk all the way around the vehicle and examine closely each panel. Look for where the light is reflected differently from dents and scratches. Crouch or kneel down at the front and rear of the vehicle and look along the body line on each side for scratches and dents that may otherwise be difficult to spot. Inspect lamps, lenses, windows and mirrors for chips, cracks and holes. Check the tyres (including spare) for damage and check that the tread wear is even. Inspect wheels and wheel trims for scratches and deterioration.
  • If you have any damage, get a quote from a third-party repair company – whether you choose to get the repairs done before returning the car or not, this quote could be helpful if you need to negotiate the cost of repairs with the leasing company. Check before getting any repairs done that your policy allows a third-party company to do the repair work. The average charge for repairs by a leasing company was found to be £473 so shopping around and getting repairs done before could save on the cost.
  • Check your insurance for windscreen cover - 22 per cent of repair bills were for glass repair/replacement – which could have been done for free as chip repairs are normally covered free of charge by the insurance company.
  • Try negotiating - 19 per cent of lessees managed to negotiate a lower cost with the leasing company for their repairs.
  • Double check, even if you have leased before - Those who have had more lease agreements are also more likely to get charged penalty fees for exceeding mileage, missing logbooks and missing keys.

Taxiarchis Konstantopoulos, managing director at Autoglass, commented: "Leasing a new car is now the norm so it is important to ensure that motorists fully understand their fair wear and tear policy, and return their car to the leasing company in the best possible condition.”