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Do you pay for maintenance on a leased car?

One of the benefits of getting a car on a lease agreement is that it can make motoring more affordable and help you to plan your spending more effectively. However, before you enter into a contract hire agreement, it's important to understand exactly what it includes and what additional expenses you can expect to incur. For example, will you be expected to pay for maintenance on your leased car?

Here, we take a deeper look into maintaining a leased car and discuss some of the options available to you.

What are the rules on lease car maintenance?

When you enter into a contract hire agreement, you have a responsibility to look after it and to return it to the finance company in a condition commensurate with its age and mileage. At the end of the contract when you hand the car back, it will be inspected for signs of damage. Some wear and tear is permitted. After all, if you've been using the vehicle over a period of years, there are bound to be some marks and scuffs. However, if damaged is deemed to be excessive wear and tear, you might incur a charge so that the finance company can repair it.

The British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA) has created guidelines for finance companies to follow when it comes to determining fair wear and tear. Its guide states that vehicles should be returned in a roadworthy and safe condition, along with all the relevant documentation, equipment and spare keys. It should also have been serviced in accordance with the manufacturer's service schedule, and car books should be stamped to prove this has happened. In addition, before vehicles are returned, they should be cleaned to allow for a thorough inspection.

You can request a copy of the BVRLA industry standard from the association itself or from your leasing company. It's recommended that you take a detailed look at your vehicle around 10 to 12 weeks before you're due to return it to see if there are signs of unacceptable wear and tear. This will give you time to resolve any problems. Examples of this kind of damage could include windscreen holes, cracks or chips, or scratches in the driver's line of sight; missing or cracked wing mirrors; burns, tears or permanent stains in the upholstery; and scratches to the bodywork that expose the bare metal underneath.

In general, it's advisable to address problems like these on an ongoing basis if you notice them. This can prevent them from getting worse and therefore save you money in the long term.

When it comes to servicing, ensure that you do this in line with the manufacturer's schedule and at franchised dealers. You may find garages that offer cheaper rates, but if the services aren't carried out according to the manufacturer's standards, they may not be recognised and this could mean you incur charges at the end of your lease agreement.

Does car leasing include maintenance?

Standard lease agreements don't cover servicing and maintenance costs such as tyres. This means you will need to cover these expenses yourself. However, you can choose to add a maintenance package to your agreement for an additional monthly cost. These packages vary, but they generally cover you for MOTs, your annual car service and wear and tear items that need replacing, such as your tyres. Note that these packages don't include replacements or repairs required as a result of accidental damage - for example if you get a nail in your tyre.

Service packages can help you to spread the cost of maintenance out more evenly over the period of your lease agreement. Before you sign up to one of these packages though, make sure you read the details carefully so that you know exactly what it includes and whether it's likely to make financial sense for you.

What does a car warranty cover?

Certain aspects of car maintenance will be covered under the car warranty provided by the manufacturer. This warranty offers protection for manufacturing or mechanical faults when a vehicle is purchased and it will last for a specified period of time or mileage. Most lease cars are covered under this initial warranty. So, if your vehicle suffers a breakdown due to something related to its mechanics, such as engine failure, you may be covered for this and won't have to pay - as long as your car is still under manufacturer warranty.

All cars provided by us come with a manufacturer's warranty, usually ranging from one to five years. These warranties can include emergency breakdown and roadside assistance cover.

When you lease a car, you have to maintain it in accordance with the terms of your agreement - and you can expect to incur some costs in order to do this. It pays to make sure you understand your obligations, and to look into whether you could benefit from add-ons such as a maintenance package.

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