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Maintaining your lease car

Finding problems

It is far better to prevent problems from occurring rather than trying to repair damage. By studying your old car and looking for problems that it had, you can identify the causes and try to prevent a repeat performance on your new car. Chances are that if you got lots of stone chips on your last car, or scuffs, or scratches, or if you chipped the edges of your doors, then the same thing will happen on your new car, in the same places with the same causes.

Cleaing your car

It is essential to keep your car clean for the whole time you own it, it should be done on a regular basis. There are two reasons for this, firstly, its when you are cleaning your car that you notice areas of damage and wear which should be addressed as soon as possible before they get out of control, for example, chips on paintwork can begin to rust, small tears in seats can become large rips if not dealt with. Also dirt and grime can hide problems which need addressing.

Article: How to wash your car article
We decided that the best way to do an article on washing your car, would be from the point of view of a total beginner. So we asked Anna, who doesn't drive and doesn't own a car. It proved such an enlightening experience for both her and us, that it has spawned a whole car care website.

The second reason for regular cleaning is that dirt causes damage to your car, this is true of both the interior and exterior. Dirt and grit on your carpets and seats will cause areas of wear. Sandpaper is after all little more than grit glued to paper, so grit in your carpet when continually ground in by the movement of your feet will eventually cause holes. especially when it gets wet. For this reason we often recommend buying some good mats, especially for winter.

Dirt and grime on the exterior of your car is a problem because it contains environmental contaminants which are bad for a cars paintwork and bodywork. The most common of these is salt which is put on our roads during the winter, but your car also has to contend with metal fallout and acid rain among other things. Dirt also holds moisture which when combined with pollutants makes the chemical reactions which cause the damage to your car. And the dirt itself is bad for your car because it is abrasive, over time this will cause scratches to the paintwork causing your car to age. Bird droppings and tree sap also damage your cars paintwork and need removing on a regular basis, if not as soon as possible.

Fig 0a. Pictured above is the default setting for air circulation. The symbol on the right means the system is letting in clean air. This can be a bit cold so many people switch to the other position, this will cause your windows to steam up and get dirty quickly. Only use this button if you are stuck behind a dirty lorry or in a tunnel.
Keep the vents open if possible and the fan on 1 or 2.

Your car also needs to be waxed or sealed. A good coating of wax or sealant will protect your cars paintwork. If you intend to wax your car it will need to be done every few months, this is why we recommend using a paint sealant, because although we all start off with good intentions, once the winter rolls around going out to wax your car in the wind, rain and snow becomes less than appealing. With a paint sealant you only need to wash your car as sealants can last 3 years or longer. Sealant packages also come with fabric protectors (similar to Scotchgard) which prevent stains and make carpets and seats easier to clean.

It is important to keep your windows clean - this will help you to avoid accidents. Dirty windows effect visibility especially when the sun is low in the sky or at night.

Your windows will not get so steamed up and dirty as quickly if you have your heater/air con set properly. (see figure 0)When you do clean your windows, do so properly. Do not wipe them with your hands, especially if you wear rings. Diamond rings scratch glass and ruin windscreens.

More Coatings and coverings

As with paint sealants and rubber floor mats, the best way to protect areas of your car that are prone to wear is to coat them or cover them. If your job involves making deliveries or visits, and you find that you are constantly getting in and out of your car, this may cause wear to the edges of your seats nearest to the door. You may wish to consider getting a seat cover to help prevent damage.
If you are loading and unloading equipment from your car on a regular basis it may be worth getting a plastic boot liner and having self adhesive scuff proof film fitted to painted areas around the tailgate.

Touch-up Paint

We strongly recommend buying a touch-up paint in the appropriate colour when you get your car. It is best to keep on top of stone chips and light scratches, you should check your car for this kind of minor damage every time you wash your car. By doing it regularly you keep on top of the situation which is important as stone chips can lead to rust.

When you collect your car from the dealership, it is always a good idea to order the correct colour touch-in paint from them so you have it right from the begining.

Service: Stone Chip Repair
Service: Car Scratch Repair
Article: Stone chip repair

Things to Avoid

Try to avoid putting items on the boot or roof of your car as these will cause scratches to the paintwork and dents. Don't let your kids put their football boots on the roof when you pick them up from a match, or rest bags of shopping on the bonnet while you unlock.

Be careful of automated car washes. Many of them use harsh brushes which leave fine scratches on your car. With regular and prolonged use these will damage your paintwork( see Figure 23). It is far better to wash your car by hand or use the 'soft wash' type of car wash.
You should also take care at the Jet-wash. Do not jet wash your engine as modern cars have alot of electrical equipment inside the engine compartment which is easily damaged by water and very expensive to replace.
You should also be aware that the brushes supplied at the jet-wash are often stored in such a way that they are covered in grit and dirt which can leave deep scratches on your car's paintwork. Either Jet-wash the brush before using it, or take your own brushes and sponges.

Avoid smoking in your car as this can lead to cigarette burns, and the odour will need to be dealt with when the car is returned. Likewise, try to avoid eating and drinking in your car. Make sure that when you transport food and drink that it is properly secured.

"We recommend whether you are a Fleet Manager, a Company Vehicle driver or a Private Individual you should consider having your vehicle professionally valeted before returning it at the end of its contract. This applies to vehicles on Contract Hire, Contract Purchase, Personal Contract Hire, Personal Contract Purchase or Finance Lease.

It is a wise investment and could save the client a substantial amount of money on reconditioning costs at the end of contract."

Stefan H Erentraut, FIMI, MICFM ,
Senior partner –
The Car Leasing Centre

Regular Maintenance & Servicing

You need to read your car's handbook/manual for information about regular maintenance. Checking oil and water levels, washer bottle levels and tyre pressures can sometimes be forgotten about. It's important to do this as low oil levels can lead to engine damage, low water levels can lead to overheating, over or under inflated tyres will lead to poor handling and tyre wear.

You will also need to get your car serviced at regular intervals at a franchised dealer or approved servicing agent. This is usually after every 12,000 miles. The service handbook supplied with the car will tell you how often, some cars even have a message on the dashboard that will tell you.

PDF: Maintenance Checksheet
A checklist to help you maintain your car and reguarly check tyres, and fluid levels complete with instruction how to do it.


De-Fleet Services

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.


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This page was last updated on Wed, 12 October, 2011
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