Whether you have a personal contract hire (PCH) or business lease, doing what you can during the term of the agreement to mitigate penalties at the end, is going to save you money. Avoiding car lease penalties isn’t as hard as you may think. Here are a few quick tips to avoid end-of-contract leasing penalties:
1 – Keep an eye on your mileage
Going over your mileage is a definite penalty marker. Leasing fees are calculated based on expected mileage and if you drive the car for more than the agreed mileage, you will likely incur an excess mileage charge at the end of your time with the car. Depending on the vehicle, it can cost anything from 3p a mile to 20p or more.
This is a cause for grumbles. But it’s simple economics … a higher mileage car will be worth less when sold and will therefore place the leasing company at risk of making a loss. Be realistic when you take out your contract and try to give as accurate an estimate of your annual mileage as possible. If your circumstances change and you find you are doing more miles, contact the leasing company to discuss; there might be the opportunity to restructure your contract.
2 – Regular cleaning
Whizzing round your car every few days and making sure it’s clean, plus doing a good hoover every week or so will keep the inside in tip-top condition with minimal fuss, but letting it go too long can result in additional fees or expensive pre-return valet costs.
Not only that, but it’s much nicer to drive around a car that’s always clean!
Natural wear-and-tear isn’t going to cost you, and no one expects the car to come back looking like new. However, ground in dirt and damage to the upholstery are not normal wear and tear. Neither are persistent smells, so avoid smoking while driving.
3 – Make sure servicing is always done on time
Firstly, make sure you’re clear on what your contract includes. Some contracts will include servicing and some won’t. If yours does include maintenance, then your leasing company will direct servicing and repair. It’s important that you follow the rules and get the servicing done at the approved location.
Failure to provide a fully documented service history from an approved place will come with a substantial cost at the end of the lease.
4 – Repair the car at an approved garage
Following on from servicing, should your car need any repairs done during the lease, make sure you get them done by professionals that the leasing company endorse. It’s always worth giving the leasing company a call before any repairs are undertaken and just checking they are happy – especially if you have been towed by the breakdown service to an unknown garage, or have to undertake repairs far from home.
Remember that your leased car will be under warranty and you should always discuss repairs with the leasing company to see what the correct procedure is before simply handing the keys to a mechanic.
And, no matter your personal skill, never undertake the repairs yourself!
5 – Consider repairing any minor scrapes or issues before returning the car
The leasing industry generally works to its industry body – the BVRLA’s Fair Wear and Tear Guide – in order to assess what is an acceptable return condition when it comes to car bodywork. This lays out the level of wear and tear to the vehicle that will occur with normal use. Damage above this level will likely result in an additional charge.
It is well worth getting damage rectified before returning the lease vehicle – although do make sure it is done by a professional bodyshop or garage. Don’t forget things like the windscreen which, if it is cracked or chipped, will need replacing. Your fully comprehensive car insurance is likely to offer a replacement windscreen service for a minor excess fee, so use this if needed to cover this otherwise expensive repair.
6 – Professionally remove vinyl and wraps
You may have added decals or even had the vehicle completely wrapped in order to promote your business, as well as often being an extra layer of protection for the car. Most leasing companies will allow this, but it’s as well to check with yours first. You must remember to have this all professionally removed and cleaned before returning that car. Poorly-removed vinyl can leave sections of glue or worse, remove actual paintwork, and that damage can be costly.
Don’t peel it off yourself thinking it’s an easy job, but have it done by a professional outfit which has the equipment and experience to leave the car gleaming.
7 – Collection – be there yourself
When it comes time to return the car, make sure you’re there in person when it’s collected. Take photos of any damage you haven’t had repaired and make certain everything is there that needs to go with with the car – service book, locking wheel nut socket sets and all sets of keys.
As you see, avoiding car lease penalties is pretty much a matter of common sense and a bit of thought in advance. Most lease cars don’t incur penalties, so make sure your leased car is one of the majority!
Car leasing with Maxxia
As experts in leasing, at Maxxia we can help you get the best vehicle leasing deals, whether for your business or as a personal contract. We’re happy to answer any questions you may still have regarding hidden leasing costs. Have a look at our business vehicle leasing pages for more information, fill in our contact form or give us a call today on 020 7520 9450 to see how we can help you.