5 sep 19

Half of private lease drivers don’t understand Fair Wear & Tear

Half of all UK motorists who privately lease their vehicle don’t understand their Fair Wear & Tear (FW&T) policy. That can lead to unpleasant surprises, as one in four of these drivers are charged for extras when returning their car. 

Leasing agreements such as Personal Contract Purchase (PCP) or Personal Contract Hire (PCH) now make up 90% of the new-car market in the UK. If upon return those cars don’t meet the FW&T terms in the agreement, drivers will be charged for repairs. 

Vague understanding
However, private lease drivers have a very vague understanding of FW&T, research conducted in the UK by Autoglass BodyRepair shows. 

The company conducted a survey of 1,500 people who privately leased a car in the last five years. Only half of those were confident about the FW&T terms of their policy. The other half either wasn’t sure or didn’t even remember receiving FW&T terms.

  • According to the survey, about one in four private lease drivers are charged extra when returning their vehicle.
  • To be fair, some extra charges are for non-repair issues, such as missing keys or logbooks, or excessive mileage. But in all, 89% of the extra charges are indeed for repair work. 
  • No less than 69% of those that had to pay for repairs said those bills were ‘unexpected’. 
  • The average bill for repairs by a leasing company is £473 (€527).

Multiple agreements
Perhaps unsurprisingly, drivers who have had multiple leasing agreements (and thus are most likely to have experienced these ‘unexpected’ bills) are most aware of the need to have repairs done ahead of returning the car. This gives them the chance to shop around for the lowest repair costs. 

However, drivers with multiple leasing agreements were also the most likely to be charged penalty fees for excessive mileage and missing keys or logbooks. So, even experience does not exclude the risk of penalties. 

Unforeseen costs
Concluding its survey, Autoglass BodyRepair offers some tips to avoid unforeseen costs when returning privately leased vehicles:  

  • Find your contract 10 to 12 weeks before it ends, familiarise yourself with the FW&T terms and appraise the vehicle as honestly as you can (and/or ask a friend or colleague to help). 
  • In case of damage, get a quote from a third-party repair company. This could be helpful when negotiating the cost of repairs with your leasing company – 19% of lessees managed to negotiate down the cost of their repairs. 
  • Before getting any work done, check that third-party repairs are allowed by your contract. If so, shop around to get the best deal. 
  • Check your insurance for windscreen cover: 22% of repair bills were for glass repair or replacement, but chip repairs are usually covered by insurance.
Authored by: Frank Jacobs