Fair Wear and Tear Guide

Fair Wear & Tear Guide

If you have a car or van on a Contract Hire agreement you should make sure you read this!

In the excitement of taking delivery of your new car or van many of us fail to read the all the small print on our contracts whether it's a business or personal contract hire agreement. Once the vehicle is returned and a large invoice drops on the mat we tend to fully read up on our commitments.


What is Fair Wear and Tear?

This is the result of a vehicle being used normally and consequently suffers some deterioration from its original condition. This is not the same as Unfair Wear and Tear which can be the result of inappropriate usage, accident damage or general neglect.

Unfair Wear and Tear - End of Contract Recharges.

Contract Hire companies as part of setting the monthly rental will predict the future value of the car or van they are contract hiring to you, as part of this process they take into account the contract length and mileage, they also make an assumption of what the condition of the vehicle should be taking into account these elements.

This is an area of potential disagreement between customers and the Contract Hire and Leasing providers. However if you use this guide it may help prevent unnecessary bills being sent to you. Don't forget most Contract Hire and Leasing companies will not only charge you for the rectification work but in many circumstances levy a handling or admin fee as well.

So What Can I do?

Most Contract Hire companies will be able to supply you with a guide to what they consider to be Fair Wear and Tear and most will adhere to the guide as laid down by the BVRLA (British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association).

Ideally you should begin the process of checking your car or van in plenty of time prior to it being collected at the end of contract, I would allow at least 10 to 12 weeks. This is even more important if the vehicle is not being used by you, for example a company car.

Useful Tips to help you check over your vehicle.

You may want to ask a colleague to help you with the check over.

Always make sure the vehicle is clean and dry, it's no point in trying to hide faults from the Leasing company as they will get the vehicle cleaned then bill you for the repairs.

Check the vehicle over in good natural light, again checking your car or van over in poor light will result in potential repair bills. Make sure the interior has been vacuumed and is acceptably clean. A van which has concrete all over the back will guarantee you a large bill. Walk around the vehicle and check all the panels including the roof, bonnet, boot/tailgate for scratches and dents. You may notice the light reflects differently on panels where there are dents.

Items to check

Has all the routine servicing been carried out in compliance with the manufacturers recommended intervals or those stipulated by the leasing company?

Are all the relevant handbooks, service books and audio guides in the vehicle?

Make sure all keys are available this must include any fuel filler caps and locking wheel nuts.

Does the remote locking system work if not the battery in the key fob should be replaced?

Check all the glass, lights, mirrors and lenses for damage, chips, cracks etc. In the event the windscreen has stone chips or cracks get this repaired prior to the vehicle collection.

Windscreen and Glass Repairs

In the event you have a stone chip or crack on your windscreen what can you do?

Gone are the days when any damage to your windscreen meant that a new screen would automatically need to be fitted! There is now the real opportunity for a full repair to be carried out at a fraction of the cost of a new windscreen.

Windscreens are not only there for the obvious, providing wind and weather protection to you and your passengers, but actually make up a proportion of the overall strength of the vehicle.

In some cases the windscreen will make up to 30% of the cars frontal strength. Most modern repairs restore your windscreen to its original strength so not only giving you clear vision but also making sure the glass retains its full benefits in terms of its strength.

In most circumstances your screen can be repaired but in certain situations either due to the size or the location of the chip a new screen may be required.

A useful tip is get expert advice as soon as you can to see if the damage incurred is repairable,and to make sure the repair is carried out as soon as possible. If you have a crack they can very easily spread relatively quickly,rendering a repair impossible and therefore increasing your costs significantly.

In the event your vehicle is on a Contract Hire agreement even with full maintenance it is unlikely damage to your windscreen will be covered. Most Contract Hire companies will consider windscreen damage to be accidental damage and therefore not covered. You may find your Car Leasing company will have a list of approved and preferred repairers to use, best to contact your account manager for further information.

As the MOT is generally where the windscreen is first 'officially' inspected then it is useful to know what you should look out for

The drivers view must not be impaired.

The windscreen must be free of cracks and damage, small scratches and chips are acceptable so long as they are not obscuring the drivers view.

In the critical areas of vision which is approximately 29cm wide and any cracks or chips in this area must not exceed a diameter of 10mm.

The other area for consideration for the MOT inspector is the area of the windscreen that the windscreen wipers come into contact with. Within this area the any damage must not exceed a diameter of 40mm. It is also worth pointing out where there is damage to the screen this can cause excessive wear to the wiper blades and result in poor vision.

Door glass and rear screen repairs can also be carried out by most repairers.

It is also important that any damage to any of your glass areas is addressed before returning your vehicle to the Contract Hire,Car or Van leasing provider at the end of the contract to ensure you do not receive any refurbishment costs. Contract Hire companies will not necessarily opt to repair the glass but automatically replace it, therefore incurring you additional costs and very often a administration fee for the privilege

As you would expect there are many excellent Windscreen and Glass repairers in the market most of whom provide a mobile repair service and will be happy to come to your home, car park or office. These repairers in many circumstances will also be able to bill directly to your insurance company, which not only saves you time but money as well.

This could save you a significant amount of money as many insurance companies cover repairs.

As a guide light scratches are acceptable so long as they are not in the driver's direct line of vision. Any chips, holes are not acceptable.

Door mirrors must not be broken, missing or scratched.

Check the tyres including the spare for any damage or wear on the tread. If the tyres are excessive worn they should be replaced, the current legal tread depth limit is 1.6m. For more information see

 Car and Van Tyres - Your Safety

How often do you think about your Tyres?

For most of us not very often!

The ubiquitous tyre is a much abused part of your Car or Van but ignore them at your peril, after all this relatively small area of rubber is all that keeps you on the road.

Don't forget all your braking, accelerating and cornering involves the tyres and they are responsible for keeping you going in the desired direction. We also expect them to work in wet, snowy, hot and windy conditions. We want to be able to drive on fast on Motorways, travel on A and B roads safely and on occasions some will be requires to work off road as well.

According to a recent survey skidding on wet roads is one of the greatest fears of the UK motorists

What do I need to know?

The legal minimum amount of tread depth required is currently 1.6mm, across ¾ of the tread around the complete circumference of the tyre. However many manufacturers and tyre specialists recommend replacement between 2 and 3mm of tread depth. If you are on a full maintenance Contract Hire agreement your Contract Hire provider will confirm a depth they would allow tyres to be replaced at. Most Contract Hire companies will sanction tyre replacement at 2mm.

Ignore your tread depth and you could not only be putting yourself at physical risk but also you can find yourself running foul of the law. If your tyres are found to be below the legal limit you can be fined up to £2,500 and 3 penalty points per tyre.

You must also make sure you don't mix tyres of different construction on the same axle, i.e. Cross Ply with radials.

It is very important to regularly check your tyres, not only to make sure they are inflated to the manufacturer's correct pressure but to ensure they are not worn excessively or show signs of damage.

If you are going to be carrying more passengers than normal, carry a heavy load or tow a heavy object you should look to see if the manufacturer recommends adjusting your tyre pressures.

As tyres are expected to travel over lots of different surfaces they often come into contact with items that can damage them. Hit a pothole at speed and this can cause damage to the tyre, go over sharp objects or knock them hard against a kerb can again all cause damage When you are looking at your tyres check for cuts, abrasions or bulges, clear your tread of any stones, nails or other items that are embedded. If you are not sure if the tyre is damaged seek expert guidance, this can be obtained by visiting any reputable tyre fitting company or calling your Contract Hire or Leasing company.

If your vehicle is on Contract Hire, many of these suppliers will offer a mobile service with tyre specialists coming to your business premises.

It is also important to routinely check your spare tyre to make sure it's fully inflated, not much use if you have a puncture only to find the spare is flat. Don't forget where you have a spare tyre in the car it must comply with the minimum tread depth.

Some vehicles no longer have a spare tyre included; these will have specialist 'run flat' tyres fitted or a can of 'instant' repair will be provided in the vehicle. Details of this can be found in the manufacturer's handbook. In the event you do get a puncture ensure you get the tyre replaced of repaired straight away.

In the event you have a puncture whilst driving you should try to get your vehicle to a safe position to park. In most circumstances it is best to call your breakdown company to assist you in either changing to the spare tyre or recovering you to a specialist tyre fitting company. Trying to fit a spare wheel to your own vehicle without the use of specialist equipment next to a busy road can be dangerous, always best to seek professional help.

Many cars have locking wheel nuts fitted so make sure you know where the keys or specialist removal tool are in the car, nothing worse than being caught out with a flat tyre and no way of removing the wheel. Next time you go to your car or van why not have a good look at your tyres, after all they are the only thing that is contact with the road, your life depends on them.

Check the wheels for scratches, dents or scuffs, especially important if the wheels are alloy as these will need to repaired if scratching is deemed to be excessive. Damaged wheel trims should be replaced as should damaged wheels. The amount of scratches or scuffs which is acceptable is generally dependant on age and mileage of the vehicle.

Make sure the jack and any other tools are in the vehicle.

Body damage is a contentious issue and it is well worth having any damage repaired by a reputable repair centre prior to the vehicle return.

Accident damage should be repaired immediately in all circumstances and many contract hire companies may require a minimum of two years guarantee on the workmanship. All painted areas will be fully inspected by the Contract Hire Company and as part of the assessment they will look for poor repair work, missing paint and rust or corrosion. Most Leasing companies will accept small areas of stone chips and small areas of door edge chips so long as there is no corrosion showing. Small dents will normally be tolerated so long as they are under 10mm and the paint has not been broken.

I would strongly suggest you check what your Leasing Company finds acceptable and what they don't as there are different interpretations across the board. 

If the vehicle is a Convertible the roof should not have any rips or tears and be in full working order. The rear screen should not be cracked or excessively creased.

Interior of the vehicle should be clean with no burns, tears, staining or holes in the seats or soft trim. If you have a mobile phone cradle fitted check with your contract hire provider on what is acceptable, i.e. leave the kit in the car or have any holes repaired. Also make sure any load liner covers are in the vehicle and that they are not damaged.


It is important the vehicle is available for collection at the time and date agreed with the Leasing Company, failure to be ready could result in a failed collection fee.

Make sure the vehicle is clean and preferably dry to enable the collection agent to carry out a full and accurate appraisal.

I would suggest you or your fleet manager is there during the collection process. In most circumstances the collection company will fully evaluate the vehicle and complete an appraisal sheet. They will record the date, time and the mileage of the vehicle before carefully looking over the car.

In some instances they will take photographic evidence during this process. You may wish to do the same in the event you have some slight damage and to help prevent any misunderstandings once the vehicle has been collected.

Make sure you both agree on the details on the vehicle condition report before the vehicle leaves you. In the event you receive an invoice that you feel is unjustified or unfair in first instance contact your leasing company, it is useful to have a copy of the collection appraisal sheet with you to refer to. Remember it is always best to be polite and try to work through the issue with the leasing company, however if there is no satisfactory outcome you can consider contacting the BVRLA to seek their input, that assumes your Leasing provider is a member.

To Summarise.

Check the vehicle well in advance.

Get any damage repaired through your insurance company or through a body shop of your choosing.

Make sure the vehicle is clean inside and out where ever possible.

Be realistic in your assessment of the vehicle, the Contract Hire Company will take the view of the condition of the vehicle based on age and mileage.

This document is a guide only and you should check with your own Leasing or Contract Hire Company on their interpretation of what is deemed as Non Fair Wear and Tear.




All pictures and/or photos and car descriptions on this site are for illustration and reference purposes only and are not necessarily the vehicle on offer. All offers are subject to change at any time and are subject to finance approval and vehicle availability. All prices correct at time of publication. E & OE.