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From inspecting the vehicle for damage to cleaning the vehicle, Nationwide Vehicle Contracts has put together ten tips to ensure a smooth vehicle collection

As the date for the end of your lease contract approaches, it is important to take the time to prepare your lease vehicle for collection to ensure the handover of the vehicle is as smooth and pain-free as possible.

To help make the preparation process easier, Nationwide Vehicle Contracts has put together ten tips to ensure a smooth vehicle collection, covering everything from inspecting the vehicle for damage to cleaning the vehicle prior to the collection date.

1. Inspect the vehicle for damage

To help avoid any unexpected end-of-lease charges, it is important that you take the time to fully inspect your lease vehicle for any damage that falls outside of fair wear and tear.

The British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA) advise that you check your vehicle at least 10-12 weeks before the vehicle return date to give yourself enough time to get any repairs done before it goes back. This includes inspecting the vehicle both inside and out.


  • Check the outside of the vehicle, one area at a time, including the doors and the bodywork. Check the bonnet, the roof and the vehicle underside. Look for any scratches and note them down along with any chip, dents or damage.
  • Look closely at the lamps, lenses, windows and mirrors to check for any chips, cracks and holes.
  • Check the wheels, trims and tyres for any damage that could have been caused by kerbing or alike and ensure all tyres are legal, including the spare wheel (if applicable).


  • Look for any tears, burns or stains in the upholstery as well as and damage to the dashboard, plastics and/or wood and chrome. Run your hands over everything to feel for any scratches, tears or bumps.
  • Check for any smells and odours in the vehicle.
  • Make sure all the controls works and that there are no warning lights showing on the dashboard. 

Read the Fair Wear and Tear guidance that you received from the funder to make sure that you have checked everything that could affect a smooth collection.

The Collection Agent will inspect your vehicle in good light so make sure that you do the same to avoid missing any faults. It is a good idea to get a friend or a colleague to look over the vehicle too with a critical eye to make sure that you have noted down everything.

2. Rectify any damage

Once you’ve inspected the vehicle, you should have a list of things that need rectifying doing before returning the vehicle. Please remember that all necessary maintenance and repairs must be carried out by an authorised agent and you must have permission from the finance provider before carrying out any repairs.

It is advised that you use an authorised repairer who is a member of the Vehicle Builders and Repairers Association (VBRA) who are obliged to comply with an OFT-approved Code of Practice which sets high standards for repairs and customer service.

Some of the most common problems that result in customers having to pay lease-end penalty charges include:

  • Scratches over 25mm (relative to the vehicle’s age and mileage)
  • Scratches under 25mm (where the primer and bare metal is showing)
  • Accident damage and dents
  • Missing sets of keys
  • Missed services
  • Missing documentation
  • Damaged or stained interior
  • Windscreen chips
  • Wheel damage due to kerbing

3. Remove private registration plates

If you have a personalised number plate on your vehicle, this must be removed prior to collection. It is advised that you start this process at least six weeks prior to the end of your lease contract.

To start this process, you must first contact your finance provider as Nationwide Vehicle Contracts is unable to do this on your behalf. You will need to send them a covering letter confirming the nominee details and a cheque for the administration fee usually around £35 plus VAT).

You can find out more about this process by reading our Private Registration Plates guide or by visiting the DVLA website for more information regarding transferring the number plate to another car.

4. Ensure vehicle has full service history and a valid MOT (if applicable)

During your lease contract, it is important that you keep on top of any maintenance that is required, including any MOT or servicing requirements according to the manufacturer guidelines.

When returning the vehicle it is imperative that the car has a full service history according to the manufacturer’s servicing schedule and the service book must be date-stamped by an authorised repairer. If your vehicle is over three years old, it also must meet current MOT standards and a valid MOT certificate must be in place.

Unless you take out a Maintenance Contract with your lease agreement, all maintenance and servicing costs are your responsibility throughout the length of the leasing contract. Please note that a maintenance package must be added at point of vehicle order and cannot be added on at a later stage.

5. Check that the vehicle is in a roadworthy condition

As obvious as it may seem, the vehicle must be in a legal, roadworthy condition prior to collection. This means that the vehicle must have no warning, alert lights or messages on the dashboard / display and that the tyres meet the required legal standard.

6. Contact provider to arrange collection

Collection agents need up to 14 days notice to book and arrange a collection, so please make sure that you contact your finance provider in plenty of time to ensure you get the collection date/time that you require.

You will have been advised about six months before the end of the lease that the contract end is approaching, with our renewals team taking the time to discuss your replacement options. Obviously, whether you decide to hand the vehicle back for a newer car, extend the contract, or purchase the vehicle from the finance company (if applicable) is up to you, but is also dependent on the contract that was taken out at the start of the leasing term.

To book collection of your vehicle, you will need the following information:

  • Registration Number
  • Collection Address
  • Contact Name
  • Telephone Number
  • Mobile Number
  • Preferred Collection Date
  • AM or PM (if applicable)

Collection times are usually Monday to Friday, 9am to 2pm (AM slot) or 1pm to 5:30pm (PM slot) from any UK mainland address. Collections are not available on bank holidays or weekends.

One working day before the date of collection, the Collection Agent will attempt to call you to confirm the booking.

7. Clean the vehicle

Make sure that the vehicle has been cleaned INSIDE and OUT prior to collection to allow the collection agent to fully inspect the vehicle. The interior needs to have been valeted and clear of any rubbish and the vehicle’s exterior should be sufficiently clean to allow a detailed inspection of the paintwork and body work.

Regular cleaning of both the interior and exterior will also help to ensure the vehicle looks good. Polishing the vehicle exterior around four times a year will help reduce the effects of any stone-chip damage, limit the effects of air-borne contamination (e.g. birddroppings), remove traffic grime and make routine washing easier.

8. Ensure all your personal effects are removed

Any personal items must be removed from the vehicle prior to return. This includes any sunglasses, CDs, phone charging leads, mobile phone holders, road maps, fuel cards, dash cams and portable sat nav units. Any non-vehicle keys on the key holder should also be removed from the keyring prior to collection. 

Please make sure that any personal data stored in the vehicle’s satellite navigation or media system such as home address, and mobile phone numbers are erased prior to collection.

9.  Ensure that the following is handed over to the Collection Agent

  • Fully stamped service book
  • Valid MOT certificate (if applicable)
  • Operation manual
  • Locking wheel nuts
  • Full set of vehicle keys (including any masters)
  • Sat Nav SD card (if applicable)

10. Retain a copy of the Vehicle Condition Form for your records

On the day of collection, the Collection Agent will check over the vehicle and record its condition and mileage on a Vehicle Condition Form. You will be asked to check and sign this so please check that the information recorded is correct. A copy of the Vehicle Condition Form will also be left with you for your records.

By following these Top 10 Tips and planning ahead, you can help ensure that the collection of your vehicle is as smooth possible, but if you have any other queries, please contact one of our Customer Representatives who will be glad to help you.