Why people end up paying
recharge bills for damage
Common things people get charged for when returning a lease car and how to avoid them.
We talked to around thirty lease companies and fleet managers and asked what are the most common things that people get caught out on, things that people get charged for and don't realize. Most of the fleet managers and lease companies told us that in general it's all kinds of things. It's mainly that people don't take checking the car over very seriously. In our experience most people just have a quick look around the car, open up the boot maybe, check the spare wheel is there and that sort of thing. They don't actually get down on their hands and knees and look at the sills and the jacking points, and check the service book and the main things that we find are missing keys, parcel shelves missing, and scratches, dents, damage on the sills.
Missing service books are common, and the stamps on the service books as well. These days you think it's being done electronically, and yes it is, it's going on the dealer's computer, but it doesn't mean to say they stamped the book. So if you are having your car serviced, you have to make sure you are having that book stamped and that you are keeping the book with the car. one fleet manager explaining that she is often getting where on the last service they had, they leave the book with the dealer. If you have lost the book you can go back to he dealer and normally they have records on their computer and the book it's self can only cost £5-£10, and they will restamp it, normally they will do that for free. Don't worry if you have lost it, but it does need to go back with the car. the charges can come to a small fortune just with one stamp missing, and you can understand that from the point of view of... we all see the adverts, "with full service history".
Another one is spare key. A lot of people don't think about it, they have had the car for three years and only have the one key on their fob, but they have forgotten that they put the spare key at the back of the kitchen draw, or on their partner's key ring. These keys can be very expensive, they have electronic gizmos in them days, to unlock the doors and boots and things to enhance the security. We have seen recharge bills from £100 to £550 for one key believe it or not. So it's an important one to make sure you have got, and if you haven't got it, check with the lease company as to what their charge would be before you give it back because you may just want to go to the dealers and get another one done, or look that little bit harder in the kitchen draw.
Small dents on low down areas, that's another one, people don't quite realize the dent sizes, the kind of dents that people get caught on is where somebody opened their door into the side of the car and put a little dink in it, and you have got to look along the car to see those and sometimes they don't notice them low down on the car, We see a lot of big dents on sills, sometimes it can me incorrectly jacked, and the jacking point it's self is kind of bent, there's lots of dents we find on those areas. Another one is that the sill it's self doesn't often get cleaned, if you go through a car wash it misses that bit, over a period of time nobody seems to notice, and we are always seeing gouges in sills and that can be quite damaging to the car and the value of the car. there are some quite big charges for those. Again that is something that can be rectified, but it would check with your lease company as to what those kind of charges would be.
Chips on bonnets and door edges, well if you didn't get a touch-up for the car it would be a good idea to get one. Go and get a touch-up from the dealer, and go and get an artist's brush, and just gently dot them in. Any that have gone rusty are chargeable and they can charge you for a whole panel to be resprayed. So ideally you should have done this when you got the car but a lot of them are not all the way through and a little tiny dot on them can make the whole car look better and avoid the charges. WE do see quite a lot of charges for stone chips on bonnets.
Another one is holes in the carpets under the pedals, usually caused by high heeled shoes and we see a lot of holes in carpets. Ideally the carpet should have had a decent mat there. It's an area that can be repaired, not all companies can do it but there are companies out there that can repair them. And it has got to be a proper repair. I can be done, otherwise the charges for these can be a lot of money for holes in carpets.
One fleet manage told me of a complete car seat missing , which is a bit unusual, and he did say the charge wasn't that much, so the lease company was quite forgiving on that, but it's common that people take out parcel shelves and that sort of thing, leave them in the garage and forget the car ever came with one, especially with people carriers and hatchbacks.
Fleet managers have mainly picked out all these bits and bobs, but the general consensus is that people don't take checking the car seriously, the fleet managed said that all of these things they get charged for, the missing keys but most of the time drivers have a quick look around, find a little scratch, a couple of chips, a couple of little dents, find the service book is missing, find that, put it back in the car, give it a vac, and they don't actually give it a proper check. The car need to be cleaned properly and you would expect to spend at least 20-45 minuets to check the car over we have a downloadable checklist on our website with instructions and you can tick and cross the boxes and if there are any crosses on there then you can address those.
The things that catch people out when they return a lease car. We talked to over 30 lease company and fleet managers, asking them what drivers normally get charged for. It tended to be the same few things, such as missing keys and service books that weren't stamped.
Some of the companies we consulted
Arnold Clark Finance UK • Big Cars • British Gas • Britvic • BT Fleet • Dagenham Motors (Ford) • Daimler Chrysler Fleet Managerment UK • Deutsche Bank • DHL • Enterprise Rent-A-Car • Essex County Council Car Provisions • Essex Fire Brigade • Essex Police • Essex Insulation • Essex Suffolk Water • Ethos Communications • Europcar UK • First Vehicle Leasing • Ford Rental • HSBC Vehicle Finance • Inchcape Fleet Solutions • ING Car Lease UK • Lex Business Partner HSBC • Lloyds TSB autolease • Lombard Vehicle Managerment • Mayfair Solution • Mercedes-Benze Charter Way • NHS Fleet (Chelmsford) • NHS Fleet (Thurrock) • Norhtgate Vehicle Hire • Pendragon Contracts • Perception Media • Peugeot Contract Hire • Power Testing Ltd • Southend Borough Council Fleet • TCH Leasing • The Computer Centre • Toyota Rental • Visteon
Our End-of-Lease Services provide quality repair for excessive wear and tear, and is acceptable and appropriate for Contract Hire, Personal Contract Purchase (PCP), Private Lease, Contract Purchase and Lease Purchase. Fleet managers wishing to efficiently prepare off-lease vehicles can contact us or send their drivers directly to our Q&A. Our advisors are trianed by Manheim to work to the BVRLA guidelines.