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How Do I Maintain My Leased Car?

'Wear and Tear' is a phrase that can cause many issues when returning a leased vehicle. Different car lease deals have different guidelines on what they see as suitable car damage when returning it to the company you took your lease from. Of course over the 2 - 4 years of your lease, the car will naturally suffer from use on the road, and leasing companies understand this.

As part of all car lease contracts you sign on for, there will be specific rules outlining how much monthly mileage is seen as acceptable and what you're responsibility for regarding car maintenance and what the car maintenance costs will be. These are negotiated before signing any contract, so make sure straight away you have a good idea of how much you're going to be using a lease car.

Here at LeaseCar, the UK's favourite car lease company, we want everyone to know how leases work, because the more you know about leases, the easier it is to see the fantastic benefits of choosing a brand new lease with us. As a rule to understand maintenance of your leased car, the BVRLA, the trade body of the vehicle rental and leasing section, have available a fair wear and tear guide which is used as an industry standard by most companies. That will give you an idea of what is expected when you return your car.

Here at LeaseCar, we've decided to give you a few of our best tips to help you understand what goes into maintaining your lease car.

Three basic rules

As a rule of thumb, consider maintenance of a lease car like you would a rented house property, or as any other rental item. If you think of it as something that's going to be passed on to someone else it becomes easier for you to determine whether you need to fix or replace parts of the car. For instance, if you leased or hired a car and found that the seats were ripped you'd refuse to accept it, the exact same is true when maintaining a car that you'd return to the company. Here are the three basic rules to keep in mind when leasing:

The car should be safe and roadworthy

Basically, if you were to return the car, it would function to a high standard and pass its MOT. Make sure you look after the appropriate documentation, spare keys and equipment. This car is probably going to sold or leased again after you give it back, and these things need to be in order before this can be done so. They sound obvious, but with modern key technology you could be paying hundreds of pounds to replace a lost spare key.

Serviced to manufacturers standards and schedule

With some lease companies, servicing and repairs may be included, or offer the option at an extra cost. This is an excellent way to ensure that your vehicle is being maintained to the specified company standards so you don't have to worry as much. However, this is where a lease car and a car you own can differ in relation to maintenance. It is important to make sure that you get your car serviced according to the manufacturer's service schedule, getting the car book stamped to make a record of it.

You may be able to find a garage that offers cheaper servicing, but many lease companies won't recognise this servicing as it may not be done according to manufacturers standards. Be sure to find this out before getting your lease car. If you mistakenly take it to get serviced by the wrong company you could end up paying in the long run. Getting your car serviced regularly is the best way to make sure its being maintained properly, as it gives the car a full search over by professional mechanics ranging from the engine and inner workings to replacing wheels, wing mirrors and even windscreen wipers.

Return the Car Clean

Partly this is a general courtesy when returning a vehicle, but in the case of leasing a car for such a long time it is a must. It makes a good impressions and also helps make the car look new again. It's important to remember that whilst you're using the car for a long period of time, it doesn't belong to you and you do have to return it unless you're going to buy it off them. Even if you plan on part exchanging, it will have to conform to these standards.

Whilst it can be an unexpected expense, hiring a professional company for a deep clean of your vehicle can save from the premium a lot of lease companies may add if they have to clean the car themselves. Having a cleaner car allows a thorough inspection of the vehicle, doing you a greater service to you by making it easier for the inspector to see how well you've maintained the rest of the car. A way to save money on cleaners would be to make sure you're keeping the interior of the car in the best condition you can do. Try to refrain from taking food and drink in the vehicle that you know can make a mess. For some with families and driving long journeys this can be a tall order, in which case it might be an idea to regularly clean the interior to make sure everything is pristine. The better care you take of your vehicle the more respect other passengers will treat it with.

Maintaining your vehicle

Hopefully now you have a grasp of the basic rules of car maintenance and how to prevent drastic wear and tear. Here, we're going to give you some excellent tips and advice on what you can do to get the most out of your vehicle through decent maintenance.

Regularly check under the hood of your car

As everyone with a driving license knows, checking under the hood should be a regular event in a cars life. The RAC and many other driving organisations recommend that you check your oil levels in your car at least weekly, and it can't hurt to have a ritual where you investigate all the levels of fluids in your car. It is a criminal offence to have minimal levels, not to mention very dangerous. Driving without any window washer fluid in your car, and low oil levels can lead to ruining a cars engine, the most expensive part to replace.

Look in your manual to give an idea of how often you have to check so your car remains in warranty, and look at transmission fluid and also brake fluid. A car shouldn't ever lose brake fluid, so if it looks low there's probably something wrong. At LeaseCar, we'd recommend you to always take a car into a garage or your dealer if you suspect there to be anything wrong with your car, the prevent any easily avoided damage.

Read your manual

This may seem like teaching you to suck eggs, but reading your manual will give you a far better insight into your car maintenance and inner workings than our guide ever will. Every car is different and each is a specifically designed highly sophisticated piece of equipment. As such, they all have their own specialised maintenance routines that have been expertly planned out by the makers.

You should keep your manual in the car or a safe place so that you can return it with the vehicle, but if you want more advice or are a car DIY enthusiast, you can buy manuals such the Haynes guides to give you some extra information. We'd still stress though that most leases will not consider any DIY maintenance substantial as a form of vehicle upkeep, unless you hold mechanical qualifications and are a registered vehicle mechanic.


Taking cue from some of the best guides on vehicle maintenance, here are some things that you can watch out for and replace or get fixed as necessary:

  • Wing Mirrors - clearly reflect and have no cracks or paintwork damaged.
  • Wheels - Meeting the minimum legal requirements, with scuffage of maximum 25mm lengthwise. Scoring to wheel surface, side walls or uneven tread wear is unacceptable and should be replaced.
  • Bumpers - scuffs and nicks just happen over time, but deep scuffs with dents and cracks are unacceptable as is paintwork damage.
  • Windscreen - a few small scratches are OK, but if anything can get in the driver's direct line of sight or there are holes and chips you will need to seek repair.
  • Decals - if you have decided to put on decals on your lease car (which may not be the best idea) these will need to be professional removed with all glue residue removed. Also, you should not remove maker logos such as badges and advertising. Return it as you found it.
  • Bodywork - some chipping is acceptable as normal wear and tear, generally around 25mm in length with light scratches, in accordance to car age. Some small dents are OK too if the paintwork is not broken. If bare metal is exposed or worse rusted then you will need to seek repairing.
  • Interior Upholstery - This should only have slight wear and soiling that would expect with normal use. No stains! Any burns, tears and permanent marks, or damage from fitting equipment will result in needed to replace the upholstering.

As mentioned before, if you see any of these things as issues on your car currently, you should get them fixed if for no other reasons than improving the quality of your own driving experience. A little bit of money spent before returning a leased car can help save you lots in the long run, and help increase the car value in a part exchange. Check your car regularly and take it to a professional if in doubt.

Do you have any more questions about car maintenance or wear and tear? Please don't hesitate to contact us by calling at 03447451818, or getting in touch on our website here. Our friendly and helpful employee are experts in the field and will be able to help with any maintenance, lease and wear and tear concerns you may have.

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