Understanding lease car damage charges.
When you have a car on lease for any period of time, it’s completely possible that it might receive some damage. Of course, it’s best that all care is taken to keep lease car damage to a minimum, but sometimes things are out of our control and accidents do happen.
If damages to the lease car are severe, you may be subject to charges. There’s a lot of actions you can take before it reaches this point and if you take them into consideration before returning your lease car, it’s rare that you will have to pay any charges at all.
Still on the fence? Let me give you a rundown of lease car damage charges and how to successfully avoid them.
What are lease car damage charges?
You’re cruising down the road in your shiny, new lease car and life couldn’t be better. That is, until you get out and realise there’s a scratch right down the side.
We know you would never do anything to purposely damage your new lease car – but accidents do happen. If you notice some accidental damage on your vehicle, it’s easy to panic about the charges this could lead to.
Lucky for you, there’s no expectation that your lease car will be returned back in brand-new condition and, at the end of your contract, an inspection will be carried out to assess the state of the vehicle. If these damages are particularly bad and are not fixed before the inspection, this is when charges may occur.
If minor scuffs are your only issues, the British Vehicle Renting and Leasing Association (BVRLA) provides something called the ‘Fair Wear and Tear Guide’ which makes allowances for these small damages that come from long term use.
What is fair wear and tear?
Fair wear and tear are the types of minor damages that are expected in lease contracts. If you fancy a long read, you will usually receive the full copy of the BVRLA Fair Wear and Tear Standard, that covers all acceptable wear and tear, when you enter into a lease contract. Otherwise, you can purchase one here.
Maybe you’re feeling a bit lazy and don’t want to read the whole guide (we get it, it’s been a long week) so let me give you a little insight into what damages are acceptable and won’t have you facing charges.
Fair wear and tear -
- Driver seat staining that is light and minor
- Scuffs to alloy wheels (up to 25mm)
- Scratches up to 25mm where bare metal or primer is not visible
- Minor scratches to the windscreen that do not affect the line of sight for the driver
There are certain damages that aren’t treated with quite so much leniency. Any scratches over 25mm will be subject to charges, as well as windscreen chips, wheel damage (don’t kerb it!) or unrepaired damage from impact. You must also prepare for an inspection by cleaning your lease car, inside and out. This is important to ensure any damages can be evaluated accurately.
How to avoid lease car damage charges?
Basically, drive carefully and don’t panic too much about minor damages. If you do have some damage to your lease vehicle that falls outside of the fair wear and tear bracket, I’d recommend getting these repaired ahead of the inspection. It’s best to take the lease car to the manufacturer’s garage as this ensures all repairs are done to the correct guidelines.
You could take your lease car to any garage but you’re playing a risky game – repairs completed at a third-party garage might not be satisfactory and you might still have to pay damage charges on your lease car.
Obviously, the best way to avoid damage charges is to not have any damages. Either don’t batter your lease car or, if you do, get it fixed.
How much do lease car damages cost?
It’s impossible to say. You can apply common sense to the scenario and decide that repairing a kerbed wheel would be cheaper than if you decided to drive your lease car, full speed, into a tree (please don’t). It also depends on your lease car manufacturer and how much they declare the damages to be worth.
It’s also worth considering that, should you repair damages before the inspection, you can search around for the best price. Finance companies won’t give you this luxury and will usually just go with the quote that they decide is best. So, if you repair the damages ahead of handing back your lease car then you will probably pay less than if the finance company repairs them.
Remember – the manufacturer’s garage is your best bet.
How to dispute lease car damage charges.
Perhaps you don’t necessarily agree with the damage charges at the end of your lease car contract – it happens. In this case, you should reach out to your finance company quickly and go through their personal process.
Remember that BVRLA I mentioned earlier? You can reference those guidelines to decide if you believe you’re being charged fairly. If you believe that your lease car damages are merely a result of fair wear and tear, you may have a chance of escaping the charges.
To prepare for this scenario, I recommend you take some photographs of your lease car before you break up with it. These are helpful if you really miss you lease car and want to relive the good old days or, you know, if you want to dispute some damage charges. It’s helpful to have some reference images of the damages to refer to.
Lease car damage charges - in summary.
I’ve just given you a lot of information there, so I won’t take it personally if you need me to summarise.
- Drive carefully, don’t drive into any trees (or anything else really) and monitor any damages on your lease car
- Small scuff? Don’t sweat it. It happens, we get it and you’re covered by the BVRLA Fair Wear and Tear Guidelines. Just don’t take advantage!
- Accidentally driven into a tree (or anything else)? Get it fixed at the manufacturer’s garage before your final inspection.
- Take photos of your lease car before it drives off into the sunset. These will be helpful to dispute any charges, should you wish too.
If you have any questions about lease car damage charges that we haven’t covered here, feel free to drop us an email or give us a call.