How to maintain your lease car
When you have a lease car, you have to take care of it and you have to maintain it. At the end of your lease agreement, your car will undergo an inspection. This will be for any damage that doesn’t constitute as fair wear and tear.
If there is any damage that doesn’t qualify as fair wear and tear, then you will face extra charges.
However, there are ways to avoid this happening, and in this article, we’re going to look at the best ways to maintain your lease car.
1. Check under the bonnet regularly
Many driving organisations like the RAC recommend that you check your oil levels at least weekly. While that may appear quite extreme, it can’t hurt to have a weekly check to ensure that everything is in working order. Driving without any washer fluid or having low oil levels can lead to damage to the engine which is the hardest and most expensive thing to repair and replace.
You should also check things such as radiator and coolant levels as well as your lights and tyre pressures.
2. Refer to your BVRLA Fair Wear and Tear Guide regularly
When you get your lease car your leasing company should provide you with a Fair Wear and Tear Guide. This is the industry standard for what constitutes as fair wear and tear when you return your lease vehicle.
We recommend referring to your BVRLA Guide regularly to ensure that you are still complying with the fair wear and tear guidelines. In the handbook, there will be sections for each part of the car including the interior and the exterior, with diagrams and photos to give you an idea to what they are looking for when they come to inspect it.
These sorts of things include;
- Paintwork, vehicle body, bumpers and trim
- Windows and glass
- Tyres and wheels
- Mechanical condition
- Vehicle interior
- Equipment and controls
The car also must meet MOT standards and have a stamped service book to prove that you have had it serviced.
We recommend that you check your car over often, perhaps once a month, to ensure that you are still within the guidelines. If you see something and are in doubt, then refer to the guide. If you are still in doubt, get it fixed. It can’t hurt.
3. Make sure it is serviced regularly
When you lease a car, you have to get it serviced. You should get your car serviced anyway, regardless of whether you’re leasing or buying but even more so when you are leasing. We mentioned above that when you hand the car back you also have to hand back the service book and this should be stamped to show that you have serviced your car exactly when you are supposed to.
How many times you will have to get your car serviced depends on how long you have your lease car and the manufacturer’s guidelines. Servicing costs are not included in your lease contract, they are something that you will have to pay for separately. You can, if you wish, get a maintenance agreement. This is suited for those who have longer lease contracts. You pay an additional fee monthly which will then cover all servicing costs for the entirety of your lease agreement. You can read more about maintenance agreements here.
Some manufacturers will set servicing intervals at 20,000 miles or 2 years whichever is soonest and some will set servicing at 12,500 miles or once a year. So the longer the contract and the higher your mileage, the more often you will have to get your car serviced. You can read more about servicing costs on a lease car here.
4. Clean your car
This sounds like an obvious one but weather and other external factors can damage your car more than you think. Salt from the roads, snow, ice, bird droppings can all damage the finish on your car. Wash it regularly and we also recommend getting it waxed once or twice a year for added protection.
You should also keep the interior as clean as possible. There can be no tears, burns or stains inside the car so general cleaning and maintenance should stop that from happening.
When it comes to returning your car, you need to have it fully valeted. This isn’t just courteous, but it also makes it easier to see any bumps or scratches that you may have to get sorted before the inspection. It also makes the inspection easier.
What happens if I get charged for damage to my lease car?
You either have your inspection one week before collection of your car or the day of collection. If you have it a week before then you are at a distinct advantage. The person inspecting the car will alert you to any damage that you will get charged for. You then have a week to get it fixed before it goes back to the finance house.
This is good because it means that you can shop around for the best or the least expensive repair. The finance house won’t do this and will send it off to wherever regardless of the cost. This means you could end up paying more.
Unfortunately, if your car is inspected on the day of collection then there isn’t a lot you can do about that. But anyway, what happens if you then get charged for damage?
If you are charged for damage you will receive an invoice shortly after your car has gone back. You can dispute this if you feel that the charge is unjust.
Each finance house has their own process for this, so we can’t give you a definitive answer as to what will happen. You will have to contact them straight away though, and some prefer you do this by email or by phone and others will prefer you to file a formal complaint by post.
If you feel that you are within the BVRLA Guidelines then you do have a pretty good chance of getting the charge dropped. But sometimes the finance do uphold their decision and if you still want to dispute it, you can go to the BVRLA directly. They will help with conflict resolution and their decision is final.
So hopefully that has given you some idea of the best way to maintain your lease car. If you are in doubt about anything, we recommend you refer to your BVRLA Fair Wear and Tear Guide or contact your leasing company who will be happy to advise you. A general rule that we give to customers is that you should look at your car as if you were going to buy it. Be critical, and anything that you would pick up on, get fixed.