What is “Fair Wear and Tear”?

Everything you need to know about Fair Wear and Tear

One of the most important aspects of leasing a car is looking after it. When you first receive your car, you should be given a copy of the BVRLA Fair Wear and Tear Guide, either from your broker or the leasing company itself.

The BVRLA Fair Wear and Tear Guide is the industry standard of which your car will be judged on when you return it to the finance house at the end of your agreement.

But, what is ‘Fair Wear and Tear’?

In this article, we are going to look at what counts as fair wear and tear, what happens if you incur charges and how to dispute them.

Who are the BVRLA?

The BVRLA are the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association. They are the leading trade association for the rental and leasing sector. The BVRLA was formed in 1967 and its members buy nearly half of all new vehicles sold in the UK.

The BVRLA set the industry standard for the rental and leasing sector. They also lobby the government on things that may affect the industry and they shape policy and regulation changes.

As of January 2017, the BVRLA had over 900 members. You can read more about what the BVRLA do here.

What is the BVRLA Fair Wear and Tear Guide?

The BVRLA also produce Fair Wear and Tear Guides. They produce three guides:

  • Cars
  • LCVs and minibus
  • HGVs

The aim of these guides is to provide an industry-wide accepted standard that defines fair wear and tear for when you return your car after your lease agreement ends. They also provide best practice for vehicle maintenance to prevent unnecessary wear and tear.

In this article we will be talking about the Fair Wear and Tear Guide for cars.

What is Fair Wear and Tear?

Fair Wear and Tear, defined by the BVRLA, ‘occurs when normal usage causes deterioration to a vehicle’.

Essentially, it’s the slight damage that happens to your car when you drive it every day for three years. No one is expecting you to return your car looking exactly like it did when you received it, that would be borderline impossible. Fair Wear and Tear outlines what is acceptable in terms of damage and what isn’t.

There are multiple headings in which fair wear and tear is judged on. These include:

  • General appearance, documentation and keys
  • Windows and glass
  • Paintwork, vehicle body, bumpers and trim
  • Mechanical condition
  • Equipment and controls
  • Vehicle interior
man inspecting a car with a clipboard

We are now going to look at what counts as fair wear and tear under these headings.

Fair Wear and Tear Standards for General appearance, documentation and keys

Your car must meet MOT standards when you return it to the finance house. You must have your service book available and it must be stamped. You also have to return the full set of keys. We also recommend that you get it valeted before the inspection.

Some of the things that are acceptable are:

  • A stamped service book
  • All documentation in the vehicle
  • You must hand back the full set of keys

However, this is what is unacceptable:

  • Un-repaired impact damage
  • If the exterior is unclean as it makes it harder to be inspected

Fair Wear and Tear Standards for windows and glass

Regardless of whether you are leasing a car or not, your windows and the glass should be kept in good condition anyway. But there are some guidelines the BVLRA want you to follow. This is what is acceptable:

man inspecting scratch on a car
  • Light scratches
    • As long as they don’t interfere with the driver’s line of sight
  • Light scratch on the passenger window
  • Damage to lens as long as the glass isn’t broken and there’s no water ingress

And this is what is unacceptable:

  • Windscreen chip
  • Damaged door mirror
  • Lamps must work and holes in plastic covers are unacceptable

Fair Wear and Tear Standards for tyres and wheels

Again, the same with windows and glass, regardless of whether you lease your car you should still ensure your tyres meet the UK legal requirements. They must also comply with manufacturer’s recommendations. Here is what else is acceptable:

  • Tyres must meet UK legal requirements
  • Surface deterioration on alloy wheel
  • Scuffs up to 25mm on alloy wheels

But this is what is unacceptable:

  • Wheel damage due to kerbing
  • Damage to the side wall of the tyre
  • Hole in wheel trim
man checking the tyre depth

Fair Wear and Tear Standards for paintwork, vehicle body, bumpers and trim

There should be no rust or corrosion on any of the painted areas of the vehicle. There are some scratches and dents up to a certain size that are considered acceptable. Other things that are acceptable include:

mechanic inspecting a car with a clipboard
  • Scratches up to 25mm
    • Except where primer or bare metal is showing
  • Small areas of chipping on door edges
  • Small areas of chipping
    • As long as there is no corrosion
  • Dents up to 10mm
    • As long as there are no more than two dents per panel and the paint surface is not broken

But here is what is unacceptable:

  • Dents and abrasions
  • Adhesive residue
  • Large area of chipping

Fair Wear and Tear Standard for the vehicle interior

The interior must be clean and there must not be any visible burns, tears or staining on the upholstery. All equipment, accessories and controls must work correctly.

Here is what is acceptable:

  • Controls and mechanisms for raising the hood must be intact and operational
  • Light staining to driver seat area
  • Interior fittings must be present and intact

And what is unacceptable:

  • Unrepaired cigarette burns
  • Torn covering and trip in boot area
  • Any holes left when items are removed
    • For example: a car phone

So that is what counts as Fair Wear and Tear and also what is not acceptable.

What happens at the end of my lease contract?

When your lease contract is coming to an end you will normally have an inspection, however it does depend on the lease company. This will either happen a week before your car is due to go back or it will happen on the day your car goes back. Ideally, you will want it to happen a week before but it all depends on the finance house.

If your car is inspected the week before then the inspector will tell you if there is anything that you need to get fixed. You will then have a week to get it fixed before your car goes back. If your car is inspected on the day, however, then you will not have this advantage.

If you do incur charges, then you will be sent an invoice shortly after your car has gone back, which you will then have to pay.

Can I dispute the charges?

If you think that you have been unfairly charged for damage to your vehicle then you can dispute the charges. You can also take your dispute to the BVRLA who will rule whether you should be charged or not, and their word is final.

We would recommend taking photos of your car, inside and out, before the inspection. Make sure these photos have a time and date stamp. Should you get charged and want to dispute it then it will help to have the photos to back you up. You can read more about avoiding damage charges on your lease car here. You can also read about what happens if you damage your lease car here.

In conclusion, fair wear and tear is essentially the guidelines for what condition your car should be in before it goes back to the finance house. If you are in doubt about anything regarding this then we recommend referring to your BVRLA Fair Wear and Tear Guide.

Want to know what you can do at home to maintain your car? Learning these tips could save you money over time 

Holly Martin

Content Co-ordinator at OSV Ltd
Holly enjoys: Reading, music and spending time with friends.

Within a week of Holly starting work at OSV she became an indispensable part of the marketing team. She's very intuitive and gets on with the whole office effortlessly.
Holly Martin

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