Fair wear and tear guide for vans

Date Posted 24th May 2021
Read Time 7 min read

When you lease a van, you have to abide by fair wear and tear guidelines. 

Because the van is never yours, you can’t hand it back heavily damaged. And likewise, you won’t be able to hand it back in the same showroom condition it was in when you took it. 

That’s why there are fair wear and tear guidelines, and in this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know. 

What is fair wear and tear?

Fair wear and tear is a set of guidelines which finance companies use to assess your van when you hand it back at the end of a lease. 

Van Speeding Down Road

It’s the state your van is expected to be in given its age and mileage. For example, when you hand your van back, the lender will expect the tyre thread to be lower than when you first took it. And the brakes to be worn. 

It’s not to be confused with damage, though, which is the result of a specific event or series of events such as a collision, inappropriate stowing of items, neglect or poor ownership. 

Why are there fair wear and tear guidelines?

The fair wear and tear guidelines are in place to protect both you and your finance company. 

They’re to stop drivers from being careless with their lease vehicles; causing damage which would be unnecessarily costly for the lender to repair when the van is handed back. 

And they’re also to stop drivers from being unfairly billed if the van isn’t returned in showroom condition. 

Who sets the fair wear and tear guidelines?

The fair wear and tear guidelines are set by the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association, or BVRLA.

The BVRLA is the UK trade body for companies engaged in vehicle rental, leasing and fleet management. 

They provide an industry standard on every aspect of the vehicle’s condition when a leased vehicle is returned. 

Whether that’s mechanical, such as the engine’s condition, to aesthetical, such as the vehicle’s upholstery, they have set parameters for all. 

What happens at the end of a lease and who’ll inspect my vehicle?

When your van lease term is up, you’ll make arrangements to hand it back to your lender.

When the time comes, they’ll send an independent company to inspect your vehicle. 

Van With Back Doors Open

After they’ve completed their inspection, they’ll send their findings back to your lender. If all is well, you’ll receive notification that your lease agreement is complete and face no further charges. 

If there’s damage outside of fair wear and tear, however, the lender will contact you with a bill and instructions on how to pay. 

What’s acceptable wear and tear?

Acceptable wear and tear is anything that’s expected from a vehicle of its age and mileage. For example, tyre wear, worn brake pads and discs, and slight wear to the upholstery. 

Acceptable wear and tear also covers parts of the exterior. Such as scratches up to 25mm in length – as long as the paint isn’t broken – small areas of chipping, dents up to 10mm – as long as there are no more than two per panel and the paint surface isn’t broken – and scuffs up to 50mm, again, as long as the paint surface isn’t broken.

Acceptable Wear & Tear

  • Scratches up to 25mm in length – as long as the paint isn’t broken
  • Small areas of chipping, dents up to 10mm – as long as there are no more than two per panel and the paint surface isn’t broken
  • Scuffs up to 50mm, again, as long as the paint surface isn’t broken.

Unacceptable Wear & Tear

  • Scratches over 25mm in length – or areas with broken paint work
  • Areas of chipping, dents over 10mm – where the paint surface is broken, or there are more than two per panel
  • Any scuffs over 50mm, and where the paint surface has been broken

How to do your own checks

Before you hand your van back at the end of your lease, you may be able to save money by carrying out your own checks first. 

It’s usually advised to do these checks a few months ahead of handing the van back, so you have enough time to rectify any faults. Even if you’re not mechanically-minded, they’re easy to do. 

Firstly, wash your van and allow time to dry, then take an objective look around, making note of any dents or scrapes which would sit outside of the fair wear and tear guidelines. 

It’s important to do this when your van is dry as water can often hide blemishes. 

Also, make sure it’s in a well-lit space. By doing so, you can see if the light reflection differs in any areas of the same panel – such as roof, bonnet and sides. If it does, that may be a sign of dented bodywork. 

Be sure to check each tyre for damage and that the tyre wear is consistent across the wheel. If it’s not, it could be that you’ve suffered a slow puncture. And while you’re there, look to make sure there’s no damage to the wheel itself, whether that’s a steel covering or an alloy. 

You should also valet the interior. That’ll allow for closer inspection of any damage to the upholstery or cabin materials. And make sure to check all the instruments and buttons. 

For example, be sure the radio works as well as the controls and dials that come with it. And if you have parking sensors or a rear parking camera, also ensure they’re functional. 

Other areas you should check for damage include the van’s lights and indicators, including their functionality, the bulbs and plastic casings, as well as the windows for chips, cracks and functionality. 

How do I fix any damage? 

If during your inspection you come across any damage that isn’t classed as fair wear and tear, you should get a quote from your local garage to see how much it’d cost to repair. 

Damaged Van

After you’ve got the quote, speak to your lender and see how much they’ll charge you for the damage if you hand it back in its current state. 

If the cost of repair is lower – which it’ll usually be – then have your vehicle repaired to a professional standard privately before handing it back. 

What about decals and signage? 

If you use your van for business, you may want to add decals or signage to the sides, back and front. That way drivers, pedestrians and everyone else gets a glimpse of your company name and logo. 

Before you do, though, you have to ask permission from your lender – as you don’t own the van. This is usually a quick process and we’re yet to find anyone who’s been told no. 

However, when it comes to handing the van back, as you have to return the van in a similar condition to when you took it, you need to remove any signage and decals before it’s collected. 

What do I need to return the van with?

When you hand your van back, you need to hand back with it any keys it came with and all service books and manuals. If you don’t, you’ll face additional charges. 

You also need to hand back any extras that were part of your agreement that you don’t own, such as mats and locking wheel nut. 

Anything you’ve bought for the vehicle personally, for example, a smartphone holder, will need to be removed before you return the van. 

Looking for a new van?

If you’re coming to the end of your current lease or thinking about leasing a van for the first time, we can help you find the right make and model to suit your needs and circumstances. 

We also have several guides which you might find helpful. 

If you already know what kind of van you’d like to lease then why not click ‘Apply Now’ to set the wheels in motion.

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