This guide explains the fair wear and tear process for lease vehicles, including a breakdown of what is contained in the guidelines and examples of some the most common problems that result in customers having to pay lease-end penalty charges.
This guide also contains advice about maintaining your lease vehicle and the preventative action you can take to keep your lease vehicle in acceptable condition and minimise de-hire charges.
Find out more about how fair wear and tear guidelines work below.
Please note, the information provided on this page is intended as a guide only.
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 its lease. It is not to be confused with damage caused by an accident, negligent behaviour or poor treatment.
If you are returning your vehicle to the finance provider at the end of your agreement, it will be inspected for any damage that falls outside ‘fair wear and tear’. You will be liable to pay for any excess damage that is found in the form of lease-end penalty charges.
The same fair wear and tear rules apply for business and personal customers, although there are three different guides for different types of vehicle:
The British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA) – the leasing industry’s trade body – provides general guidelines as to what constitutes fair wear and tear. These independent guidelines ensure the rules are clear, easily understood and fair for everyone involved.
Although the BVRLA provides the general guidelines, each finance provider will have its own set of fair wear and tear rules, broadly based on the general guidelines. 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.
If you are nearing the end of your lease and would like to get a copy of the fair wear and tear guidelines for your vehicle, please contact Nationwide Vehicle Contracts on 0345 811 9595.
Before returning your vehicle, please ensure you consult the official wear and tear guidelines from your finance provider. The guidelines detailed what is acceptable for different areas of the vehicle and include specific guidance with regards to the following areas:
The guidelines also include:
Some of the most common problems that result in customers having to pay lease-end penalty charges include:
For the large part, much of the information contained within the guidelines for cars also applies to vans however, there are some elements which relate to van-specific guidance. For example:
Scuffing, scratches, abrasions and small dents that do not interfere with the function of the compartment are permitted, but any considerable damage caused by improper loading is not acceptable.
Badges, labels or advertising fitted to the bodywork or glass of the vehicle should be removed prior to return and any damage caused by their attachment or removal must be rectified. Any difference in paintwork colour following their removal is not acceptable.
Any additional beacons, lights, antenna or other roof fittings can remain, as long as they are fully functional and comply with legal requirements.
If you’re reaching the end of your lease contract, taking the time to prepare your car or van properly for inspection could be the difference between paying a penalty charge and not.
Naturally, it is impossible to cover every single form of damage but the tips below should help give you an idea of the minimum return standards expected and how you can rectify any damage you find.
When vehicles are returned at the end of their contract, they should be in good condition for their age and mileage. The BVRLA advises that you inspect your vehicle for damage 10 to 12 weeks before it is due to be returned. This should give you enough time to check the vehicle against the condition guidelines and arrange for any necessary repairs to be carried out.
Walk all the way around the vehicle, checking each panel at a time for significant damage. Be sure not to forget the roof.
Kneel down at the front and rear of the car or van and look along each side to help you spot any missed damage.
Inspect all lamps, lenses windows and mirrors for any chips, cracks or holes.
When you are making your checks to the vehicle be sure to check the spare wheel too.
Having cleaned and valeted the interior, check for any odours, tears, burns or stains.
Everything must be fully functional, including audio equipment and accessories.
For a car or van to achieve its highest possible resale price, it must have all the relevant documentation and up-to-date service and maintenance history.
If you discover any damage that you believe is likely to incur a penalty charge as part of your inspection, you can arrange to correct the damage before the vehicle is returned.
Before having any maintenance work carried out, it is important that you speak to your finance provider first to determine whether its approval is required. Usually, all repair work must be completed to a professional standard by repairers who provide full warranty on their work.
For small areas of damage such as chips, dents and scratches, a SMART (small and medium area repair technique) repair may be appropriate provided your finance provider gives approval. It is advised that you use a SMART repair organisation to carry out the repair work. SMART repairers that are members of the Vehicle Builders and Repairers Association (VBRA) and are obliged to comply with an OFT-approved Code of Practice which sets high standards for repairs and customer service.
The most effective method of avoiding penalty charges is to keep on top of the vehicle’s maintenance and appearance throughout your lease period. Regular maintenance and servicing should be carried out by an accredited servicing outlet and the vehicle service record must be stamped at each service.
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.For general information and advice on maintenance, view our Vehicle Maintenance Guide.
On the day of collection, a qualified inspector will complete a full visual inspection of the vehicle and will assess its condition. Any damage deemed outside of fair wear and tear will be noted on a condition report, along with the cost of repairing the damage or replacing any missing items. The inspector will ask you to sign the condition report once they have completed their review.
If you do not agree with the inspectors report, you will need to note the detail of your disagreement on the document provided. This will not remove or reduce the cost of the damage but will prompt a review process by the finance provider. Here, a damage team will look to see if the damage in the imagery provided matches the recharge cost quoted and whether the charges will stand. If not, the costs may be removed.
Please remember that in all cases, you or your nominated handover representative, will have seen this damage at the point of vehicle handover, and thus should have full knowledge of the damage as found and recorded on the inspection sheet.
For more information and advice, consult the fair wear and tear guide provided by your finance provider.
Is your current leasing contract coming to an end? Check out our latest leasing offers or try one of the deals below.