The principle of leasing is a great one; you know exactly what you are paying on a month-by-month basis and you need not worry about flogging the vehicle on afterwards. But there’s a catch and one that can leave a bitter taste in the mouth – end-of-contract wear and tear.
It’s a sweaty palm moment, waiting for the lease company’s inspection to finish; if you’ve not done the right prep work, you could be presented with a repair bill that will make you wince (and make all savings made with that company fuel card vanish in a puff of blue smoke). And to compound matters for fleet managers, according to a survey by ALD Automotive, 84.6% of company drivers stated that they would not expect to pay for such charges themselves.
What They Expect
To be fair to lease companies, they need the vehicle to be returned to them in good condition because they have to sell it on for the best profit possible. They expect normal wear and tear – but what does that actually mean? The key areas are set out by the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Organisation (BVRLA) in its Fair Wear and Tear Guide:
- Everything should be in working order and all equipment provided with the vehicle should be in place and fully operational
- The exterior and interior of the vehicle must be clean, the upholstery free from damage and bodywork free from dents and unsightly scratches – plus there should be no rust present on painted areas
- Tyres must be legal and alloys checked for deep scuffs
- All documentation including the service book (with stamps from an authorised service centre) and manual must be returned with the car plus both sets of keys. The latter are notoriously pricey to replace – expect a bill of up to £300 or more if you’ve lost one.
What To Do…
… before you take the vehicle to be inspected by the lease company:
- Inspect the vehicle 2-3 months before it is due to be returned; this will give you plenty of time to sort out any issues
- Wash the vehicle before your inspection, allowing enough time for drying
- Inspect every facet of the vehicle, including all panels plus the roof and doors
- Crouch by the front of the vehicle and look down each side; you will be able to spot dents and other blemishes much more easily from this vantage point
- Check that the tyres are in good nick; ensure they are road legal. If not, they will need replacing.
- Inspect windows, mirrors and light fittings for any damage
- Clean the vehicle inside and out (including any errant Ginsters wrappers or company fuel cards…) Better still, have the vehicle professionally valeted.
- Double check upholstery for any damage and, if you’re a smoker, pray that there aren’t any burn marks left by hot ash…
- Have a trusted colleague or friend take a look at the vehicle when you are doing the inspection; a second pair of critical eyes is the perfect way to ensure nothing is missed.
- Inspect the vehicle in anything other than daylight or in a well-lit garage; you could miss smaller items that the lease company will pick up on in seconds
- Inspect the vehicle straight after it’s been washed; blemishes, marks and other problems can be hidden by water droplets.
Got a personalised number plate? Then make sure to give yourself a few weeks to have it transferred by the DVLA to your new company vehicle.
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Check your lease company’s terms and conditions about specifics. For example, they may accept that stone chipping and shallow scratches are part and parcel of normal wear and tear – but every lease company is different.
Have some sympathy for lease companies; they’ve had vehicles returned to them in all kinds of conditions, including the driver who gave back his car with the engine on the back seat and another who turned up with bits of his vehicle… in a bag.
Not happy with the lease company’s appraisal and subsequent charges? Then make an official complaint to the BVRLA by filling in this form.
For information on our company fuel cards, visit www.fuelcards.co.uk for full details on our range of cards.