Will I be charged for a dirty car at the end of the lease?

You certainly can be charged for an 'excessively' dirty car when you return your lease car. However, we find people tend to over-do it and spend lots of money on having their car detailed when they really don't need to.

The general rule of thumb is to open the door, take a peek in and if it looks dirty, so that you think, "It needs a vacuum", then give it a vacuum.

Next, look at the seats. If you see any stains or marks, try giving them a wipe over with a damp cloth, if that doesn't get them clean, only then would we suggest getting your car shampooed.

For the outside of the car, going through a car wash is generally clean enough.

Some wash marks are considered fair wear and tear. However, we have seen cars that are heavily scratched to the point where it would not be acceptable.  Keep this in mind if somebody with a bucket offers to clean your car for £5 in a supermarket car park. It is an understatement to say that this could be a false economy.  Although we could probably rectify the damage with machine polishing, the person at the lease company can only see the paperwork that says the car is badly scratched all over, and may decide to bill you several thousand pounds for a complete respray.

The one thing that you do need to address is any odour. If you have smoked in the car, or you spilled a coffee and there is an odour of rotten milk, they will penalize you for this.  A quick shampoo at the valeters generally doesn't get rid of bad odours, they can be very difficult to remove, and the lease companies know it, so the recharges could be quite substantial. 

In summary, don't spend a fortune having your car detailed, they won't thank you for it. Just address any specific issues. 

Written by Danny Argent. Last updated 16/06/2022 15:51