What are the things most commonly charged for at the end of lease?

If you don't prepare your car for return and just send it back, then you are likely to be charged for the most common forms of damage, which are chips on door edges, scratches, scuffed wheels, dents, stains on seats etc.

Generally speaking, the charges for these are not too bad. They will charge you for the cost of repair, which is likely to be close, or even cheaper than what you would have paid anyway.  The exception to this being chips on door edges. Because they have 'broken the paint' (which can lead to rust) you could be charged for 'repair and repaint' at a body shop, which is far more expensive than filling them in with a touch-up paint. 

Where people may get a shock is when they assume that because the damage is small, the repair bill is going to be small. For example, there are many ways to repair a scuff on a bumper. You might be able to polish it out, you may be able to touch it in. If it causes a dent, you can heat it up and push it back into shape, if there is a crack you can use plastic weld to fix it up like new.  Somebody sitting in an office looking at a report doesn't know exactly which is the cheapest option that will work, but they do know that the sure-fire way to be guaranteed to put it 100% right is to replace the whole bumper and have it resprayed. 

It's the same thing happens with carpets. If a carpet has a cigarette burn in it or a high heel has worn through under the pedal, we are fairly confident we can do an invisible and durable repair for a very reasonable price. However, the assessor has absolute certainty that the problem can be solved by stripping out the interior and replacing the entire carpet.  The same can be said for scuffs and wear on leather upholstery. In the vast majority of cases, this kind of damage can be repaired to an acceptable standard for a reasonable cost, and a leather specialist can examine it and very quickly assess what the likely outcome of the repair will be. But the assessor is not a leather specialist and only has photos to go on, so they will be looking up the price for a replacement seat. That can get a little spendy even with a Ford or Fiat, let alone a Jaguar or Mercedes. 

There are lots of things like this that catch people out and take them by surprise. It is very rare for us to recommend a new carpet set or headlining, and there is usually a cheaper, but acceptable way to deal with most issues. However, once the car goes back to the lease company, it is too late to explore these alternatives.

The other thing that catches people out is missing items. If you took the parcel shelf out of your car and put it in the garage because you were going down to the garden centre to get some shrubs, you might be surprised how expensive that is to replace. The socket key for locking wheel nuts can also be very expensive, as are electronic keys, spare keys, and master keys. We often hear of people who have been charged hundreds of pounds to replace the spare key that is sitting in the kitchen draw.

There is also excessive mileage, incomplete service history, or the wrong grade of tires fitted. These are all things that you need to pay attention to as you go along. If you have a service contract, or tyre deal as part of your lease, ensure that the technicians do their job properly and complete the paperwork. 

This may all sound a harsh to the lease company, which it shouldn't. They are generally fair, their recharges are reasonable or generous, and most will even work with you  with things like excess mileage.

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