What Happens at the End of the Contract?

It's almost the end of your contract! This page explains everything you need to do before your car goes back! Replace, Check and Return! 

Steps To Take:

When it comes to the end of your contract, there are three simple steps you need to address:

  • Replace – do I have a new car to replace the old one?
  • Check – have I checked over my lease car for damage? Have I gone over my mileage limit?
  • Return – how do I prepare for return day?

Replacing Your Old Lease Car

When your lease car goes back, you will need to arrange for a new one to arrive at a similar time. We recommend that you look for a replacement around six to nine months before the end of your contract. This gives you enough time to ensure that the new one will arrive on time. The lead times for cars are currently a bit chaotic. Six to nine months should give us enough time to find you your next perfect lease car before your contract ends.

We should be in touch around this time before the end of your contract. We will help you look for a new lease car that suits your preferences. Whether you want something similar to your old one or need something different, we’ll be there to help. We can order your new car to arrive when your old one goes home.

Checking Your Lease Car

Throughout your lease contract, you need to ensure your car is kept to a certain standard and remains in good condition. You will also need to make sure the vehicle is serviced as per the manufacturer’s guidelines otherwise there may be a fine to pay. When the car is returned, the lease car will be inspected by the finance company and if anything on the vehicle doesn’t comply with their ‘Fair Wear and Tear guidelines, then you will be charged for damage.

‘Fair wear and tear’ is any deterioration of a car due to its age and day-to-day usage. It is not damage that has accurate due to a specific event. So, impact, harsh treatment or negligence are not classed as fair wear and tear. 

Most finance companies use BVRLA’s guide to define what is fair wear and tear, but some finance companies have their criteria for fair wear and tear. You can request the fair wear and tear guide from the finance provider of your vehicle when your contract is live. If you are unsure who your finance company is, you can contact the team on 0345 350 3776 and we’ll send you in the right direction.

You will need to prepare your car for its return. We recommend inspecting it about 6 to 8 weeks before it is due to go back. This gives you time to arrange any repairs that you discover. Here’s our quick guide to inspection:

  1. Wash and dry the vehicle and inspect it in good light.
  2. Walk around the vehicle and examine each panel closely for damage.
  3. Crouch down to examine the panels from different angles so that you don’t miss anything.
  4. Check your lamps, lenses, windows and mirrors for chips, cracks and holes. There are specific measurements that you will need to check these against.
  5. Check the tyres (and the spare if you have one) for damage. The wear on the tread should be even for all tyres.
  6. Inspect the wheels, wheel rims, wheel hubs and spokes for scratches, rust and corrosion.
  7. Inside, check the upholstery for odours, tears, burns, stains and wear. Make sure all controls are present and still work.

Be objective and unbiased during your inspection. If you need, ask a friend or family member to help you. If you discover any damage that does not comply with fair wear and tear guidelines, get this repaired as soon as you can by a trusted professional. 

Another thing that we recommend you take note of is your mileage amount. When you signed your contract, you will have agreed upon an annual mileage figure. If you go over this mileage figure by the end of the lease, you will have to pay something called an excess mileage charge.

An excess mileage charge is a penny per mile figure that you pay for every mile you go over your agreed annual amount. If the excess mileage charge is 9p per mile, and you have driven an extra 245 miles then you will need to pay £22.05 to the finance company. However, for some finance companies, if you go over by a certain amount (like 1000 or 500 miles) the excess mileage charge may increase. Not all excess mileage charges are the same. They change depending on the car, mileage, term and finance company.

Preparing To Return The Car

If you have a private plate on your lease car, this will need to be removed so that you can retain the plate. This should be done around 6 to 8 weeks before your lease car is returned. Contact your finance company directly and let them know that you wish to remove and retain your cherished plate. You will need to pay the £80 retention fee that the DVLA charge as well as any admin fees that your finance company charges. After the DVLA has processed the retention, the finance company will forward the new retention document to you.

To prepare for the actual return day, you will need to make sure you have all the necessary documents for your car. This includes any MOT certificates, the service book (or service records if there is no book), contract documents and the handbook. You will need to ensure both sets of keys are still with the car as well.

We also recommend that you get the car cleaned and valeted; emptying the car of all personal items before the collection happens.

On the return day, the finance company will arrive and assess the car to see if it meets the standard of their fair wear and tear policy. The finance company will note the condition and mileage of the car, and they will ask you to sign a returns form. If you have exceeded your mileage allowance or the car does not comply with their fair wear and tear standards, then you will need to pay a fee as mentioned before.