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Vehicle Fair Wear and Tear - Paint and Body Work

Not sure what is meant by fair wear and tear? Nationwide Vehicle Contracts takes you through what you need to know

When you return your car at the end of a leasing period you need to be aware that any 'damage', outside that of which could be expected, must be paid for or repaired before returning the vehicle. This is what is meant by Fair wear and tear.

Fair wear and tear is the natural deterioration that occurs to a car or van as a result of normal use throughout the period of the lease, and is not to be confused with damage caused by an accident, negligent behaviour, or poor treatment.

But what is actually acceptable as 'fair wear and tear' and what is not? Take a look at our quick guide below at some of the more obvious car parts that are affected and the leeway that is deemed to be acceptable (although this can vary from lender to lender.)

General Acceptability

  • Scratches up to 25mm are acceptable, except where primer or bare metal is showing, and any scratches over 25mm are unacceptable.
  • When it comes to chipping, small areas on doors that are naturally unavoidable through wear are acceptable, as are small chips that have no corrosion; but any large chips will need correcting prior to return.
  • If there has been a company logo or any sort of decal on the vehicle, this will need to have been removed, with any residue from adhesive left behind being deemed unacceptable. Any badges, labels or advertising fitted to the bodywork or glass of the vehicle should be removed unless originally fitted with the agreement of the leasing company and any damage caused by their attachment or removal must be made good. Any difference in paintwork colour noted following the removal of advertising, labelling or logos is not acceptable.
  • Any dents and abrasions that have come about as a result of any impacts are unacceptable.



Any damaged paintwork on the vehicle's body, bumpers, body moulding, mirrors or trim will need to be rectified if it falls out of the acceptable levels detailed above, and if it shows any signs of corrosion or rust. This repair also needs to be to an acceptable standard.


Small areas of chipping, including door edge chipping, are acceptable when relative to the vehicle’s age and mileage. If the areas of chipping require the entire panel to be re-painted, the damage is not acceptable.


When it comes to dents, dents that have been created through day-to-day use up to 10mm are acceptable provided there are no more than two per panel and that paint surface is not broken. Dents on the roof and those created as a result of an accident are not acceptable.


Scratches and abrasions up to a width and depth of 25mm are acceptable, relative to the vehicle’s age and mileage, as long as the primer or bare metal is not showing.

Moulding, wheel arch trims

Scuffs and scratches are acceptable provided the moulding or trim is not broken, cracked or deformed.

Soft top convertibles

Convertible roofs must be fully operative and free from rips and tears, with the rear window free of any cracks and creases. Any accessories such as a tonneau cover that were supplied originally should be returned also and in good condition.

Tow bars

If any tow bars have been fitted, these should be in a good and rust-free condition, complete with ball cover and fully working electrical connections.

You should be aware that the same fair wear and tear rules apply for business and personal customers, although there are three different guides for different types of vehicle - Cars, LCVs and HGVs.

The British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA) provides general guidelines as to what constitutes fair wear and tear, but it is the guidelines from your specific finance provider that you must follow to ensure you avoid any unexpected costs at the end of your lease contract.

Besides the standard of the vehicle parts above, you will also need to make sure that all documentation and keys are returned, all technology is working and the documentation for that is there also, all the mechanicals in the vehicle are in working order, all of the interior is in good condition and clean, and the tyres and wheels are roadworthy and in good repair - amongst other things.

If you need a copy of your vehicle's Fair Wear and Tear document, CONTACT one of our customer service representatives for a copy.