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The Complete Guide to Maintenance

Whether you're planning on owning your vehicle at the end of the contract, returning it, or trading it in for another fantastic lease you'll want to make sure that car maintenance is never too far from your mind. Personal lease agreements with maintenance are a great start to ensure that your car is kept to the highest standard, giving you peace of mind on your lease requirements while giving you the best driving experience possible. There's lots you can do to ensure that you don't find any extra charges at the end of your lease, or drive into any unexpected high costs of repairing. The old adage 'a stitch in time saves nine', is never truer than with car maintenance.

Many lease contracts will have a pre-arranged agreement on what is seen as appropriate car depreciation over a period of time. It's only natural and expected for a car to show a bit of wear and tear after a long term lease, and lease companies recognise this. Providing you follow these requirements you won't have an issue, but there are still some things that you can do to make your car run even smoother throughout the whole lease. We've put together a complete guide to maintenance, telling you everything you need to know, from checking oil to servicing your vehicle and what to watch out for. So read on and see how these could help you with your new leased vehicle.

What is Wear and Tear?

Wear and Tear is a phrase used by companies to describe the damage a car undergoes under the course of a lease. What is deemed as fair wear and tear changes slightly between companies, as it can be quite a subjective thing. Fortunately, the BVRLA, the trading body for the rental and leasing sector, offer an industry standard guide you can get off their website here. It's important to remember that most finance lease companies will have a different definition of what is standard definition, but this will all be available for you to read before you sign a contract.

In order to know how to maintain your car, it's important to bear in mind what a company expects if you plan on returning it or paying the balloon payment at the end of a lease. Generally the rules to follow are:

The Car should be roadworthy, safe and returned with all documents and keys

This is so that the company can sell on or re-lease the car should they wish. We'll be looking at some of the things you can do to check your car is roadworthy, and what to do to make sure it's safe and passes the MOT. Remember to keep the spare keys and important documents in a safe place, such as a safe or other locking security facilities.

Cars should be serviced to car manufacturers specifications

Some lease companies may offer their own servicing schedule and routines to make sure that your vehicle is spick and span when being inspected. If this is the case, then they're a great option for maintenance, but we'd suggest looking at manufacturers servicing too. This is a safe bet as the car makers will have great insight into how the car should be working, and what to watch out for, if there is anything at all untoward. The servicing schedules vary on different cars, but is often measured according to mileage being reached first or the age of the car. If you drive your car a lot, chances are you'll need it serviced more frequently. Servicing is an excellent way to have professional check your car over to ensure everything is correct.

At LeaseCar, we recommend you take it to a registered car manufacturers garage or ask use our own maintenance service, but try to refrain from any DIY work that could seriously damage your car. Unless you are a qualified and registered mechanic yourself, its always best to be on the side of caution and take it to a professional, rather than saving the few extra pennies.

The car should be kept clean

This is an obvious point, but when leasing its important to remember that the car isn't yours until the lease ends when you can then purchase it. Consider it like a long term hire of a brand new vehicle, you can enjoy all the benefits of ownership, but remember that you may have to return it. Try to avoid making spills and permanent stains by regularly cleaning the inside and outside of the car.

Maintenance

Now that you have an idea of what to watch out for when maintaining your car, here are the main areas you should be constantly checking and fixing, if the need be. At LeaseCar, you'll be guaranteed a new, state of the art vehicle which we can speak for the quality of, however, it can't hurt to correctly maintain it, and you never know what's round the corner with any vehicles.

Tyres

Tyres probably take more damage than any other part of your car, constantly rolling over all sorts of terrain, be it tarmac, cobbles or even gravel. Therefore you want to make sure they're in the best condition when on the roads. Here are a few things you can do yourself to ensure you have a healthy set of tyres at all times

Check the Tyre Pressure

In your car handbook, or usually found on a sticker in the door frame of your vehicle, there should be a guide on what pressure all your tyres should be. This will normally be in dpi or BARs and is the optimum pressure to balance your vehicles weight and efficiently drive it. Having too low a tyre pressure can cost more in fuel to move the vehicle, and having it too high can cause tyres to explode.

You can buy a number of different tyre pressure gauges and measurers in stores, or can check at your local petrol garage when filling up. Depending on your car and car usage, its recommended you check your tyre pressure anywhere from daily to up to a week. If you're going on a long distance journey, you should always check the tyre pressure before going and make sure it's at the recommended pressure.

Brake Dust

A build up of road grime, moisture and the temperature of your brakes can cause dust that sticks to your brakes to cook onto your wheels. This can be disastrous and incredibly dangerous if it's not cleaned regularly. Fortunately, a damp sponge with clean cold water will normally do the trick to removing the stubborn substance and can be done when you're cleaning the rest of your car.

Check Tyre Tread

Making sure your tyres grip properly on the road is crucial to ensuring you get the best quality and also safest drive. Most tyres nowadays come with tread rows so you can check when you need to replace your tyres, or it will be included in your car manual. Tread depth can be measured easily in a quick inspection and it is something that is always checked when returning a car.

A great tip for getting more out of your tyres is by rotating them every 5,000 miles, or replacing them when the tread gets too low. Tyres are an expense not to be spared on, as the results of worn tyres can be expensive to your cars economy, comfort of drive and your overall safety.

Engine

Whilst major inspections into your engine should be left to a professional, there are a few things you should be looking at regularly to make sure it's ticking over.

Check the Engine Belts

In your engine a number of belts made of rubber will loop around a number of pulleys, these are driving all the things in your car from the a/c compressor to the alternator. Being made of rubber they will need to be replaced from time to time and it is crucial you do so, being such an important yet easy to replace part of your car, this should not be overlooked.

They should be checked around every 25,000 miles, and consider replacing them every 50,000. Look to see if they look damaged, worn or have holes in them. These are things that are checked during a service and MOT, but by checking yourself it means if they need any emergency replacements in between times you know what to look for.

Oil Levels

This is one of the easiest, yet most important things you should be checking in your car on a weekly if not daily basis before setting off. Oil levels are what makes the engine run smoothly, and if it runs out it can be the end for your engine. As this is normally the most expensive part of your car, such an easy job should often take place.

Pull the dipstick out of your car, wipe it and place it back in the engine. When pulling it out the second time, have a look at the level and the thickness of the oil. It is important to do this before driving and when it is relatively cool, whilst it is often denoted on a meter reading in your car, they can be unreliable at times and checking manually can pay off. Be sure your oil is topped up with a high quality of oil, again this is normally done in a service if your oil is low.

Coolant Levels

Cars are powered by a combustion of petrol pushing cylinders around your engine, so obviously the inner workings of the car can get very hot. This is why coolant is so important, overheating can lead to very dangerous consequences that will put your life and others on the road at completely unnecessary risk. Look inside your handbook to help you locate where the coolant level is and have a look at the marking. There will usually be a high or low marking on the side, making it incredibly easy. This should be checked regularly, and could be part of a weekly check along with tyre pressure and oil levels.

Lights

It is a criminal offense that can lead to heavy on the spot fines if you fail to have indicators, headlights of brake lights working, not to mention its very inconsiderate to other drivers on the road, being a major cause of road accidents in the country. Check your lights often, getting someone else to look behind and confirm that your brake lights and indicators work.

A great tip with indicators is that if one is blinking faster than the other, it probably means a bulb is about to blow. These lights can easily be replaced by professionals, and if you see any problems with your lights, take the vehicle a garage immediately. A common misconception is that having one headlight working is legal, but not only is it unsafe it also makes your car unroadworthy.

Battery

Lastly, checking the electrics in your car is a crucial part of any checks and maintenance. Be very careful when checking your car battery, as they can pack quick a punch if you're electrocuted! If you're taking the battery terminals off, always disconnect the negative (normally black) then positive (red).

Similarly when reconnecting place the red positive first, followed by the negative. This is to control the car current. A car battery will have to be replaced over time and it's important to make sure it's holding its charge, as this is what powers the engine at the start up. You can purchase battery power measurements and chargers that can plug into your mains at home, and be sure to contact your dealer if you need a new battery.

Making these checks a regular part of your car maintenance and driving schedule will make sure that you get the best experience out of your lease car. With so many lease car deals available, make sure you look into what's required of you for car maintenance. We hope that we've helped you understand what goes in to car maintenance, and if you have any queries don't hesitate to contact us online or call us on 0344 745 1818and we'll help you with what lease concerns you may have.

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