When you first take out a lease on a brand new car there’s lots of factors to consider. With the excitement of collecting a new vehicle, the last thing on your mind is handing the car back at the end of your agreement.

This is completely understandable, it could be five years away! However, you don’t want to be in for a nasty surprise when the time comes for the leasing company to inspect your car at the time of return. Knowing from the start of your lease, what condition the vehicle is expected to be in when it’s time to return it can be of benefit.   

To offer you some guidance and help boost your confidence, we’ve put together a guide to preparing your car for the end of its lease, complete with a checklist.

What is leasing fair wear and tear?

It will clearly state in your agreement that the vehicle must be handed back with no more than a reasonable amount of wear and tear, but what does that really mean?

It’s understood that no car will remain in pristine condition once it’s left the factory and is being driven regularly. This is taken into account when you lease a vehicle however, leasing companies will want the cars to be returned in the best condition possible.

This is where ‘fair wear and tear’ comes into play, it’s a rather contentious issue and a vague sounding phrase. Generally speaking, fair wear and tear could include small areas of chipping or minor scratches.

Beaten up and scuffed toy car photographed as if it were a real car

Wear and Tear Checklist:

Take a look at the below checklist to discover what’s considered fair wear and tear for each area of your vehicle.


Fair Wear and Tear: Small scratches and chips (providing that they have been professionally repaired) outside the driver’s vision.

Unacceptable Wear and Tear: Any holes, chip, cracks and scratches inside the driver’s line of sight.  

Wheels and Tyres

Fair Wear and Tear: Tyres have a tread depth that meets the legal requirements and are only minor scuffs (up to 25mm) on the wheels. 
Discover more about tyre maintenance.

Unacceptable Wear and Tear: Tyres below legal tread depth and deep, scoring damage to the wheel surface.

Wing mirrors 

Fair Wear and Tear: Minor scuff on mirror housing.

Unacceptable Wear and Tear: Scratched or damaged paint work. Missing, damaged or cracked wing mirror.


Fair Wear and Tear: Minor scuffing up to 25mm.

Unacceptable Wear and Tear: Broken, dented or cracked panel.


Fair Wear and Tear: Small areas of chipping (usually at the front where grit gets thrown up). Short and light scratches and small dents up to 10mm.

Unacceptable Wear and Tear: Stone chips or scratches longer than 25mm, bare metal exposed, evidence of rust and any impact damage/multiple dents. 

Interior upholstery 

Fair Wear and Tear: Clean and tidy, with only slight wear through normal use.

Unacceptable Wear and Tear: Burns, rips, permanent staining or damage caused by fitting something like a mobile phone cradle.


Fair Wear and Tear: All decals and glue residue removed.

Unacceptable Wear and Tear: Damaged bodywork/paint due to removal of decals.


Fair Wear and Tear: Vehicle MOT after three years. Serviced in line with manufacturer requirements.

Unacceptable Wear and Tear: No MOT or service history.

Book your MOT or Service with Swansway Group.


Fair Wear and Tear: Under annual mileage stated in contract.

Unacceptable Wear and Tear: Going over the annual mileage will concur a penalty.

Swansway Top Tips:

To avoid any surprises when it comes to having your car inspected, carry out your own examination of the vehicle using the above checklist around 10-12 weeks before the end of your lease. This way, if there are any major issues, you have time to rectify them before you return the car. When assessing your vehicle, best practice is to ensure you have good lighting, and has been thoroughly washed, this will maximise the chances of spotting any faults.

What happens when your car is collected?

Now we’ve been through the checklist, you may be wondering what actually happens when your vehicle is collected at the end of your lease.

If you choose not to purchase the leased vehicle at the end of its leasing term, it will have to be returned to the dealership ready for inspection. If any issues are found, they will be handled there and then, this is so that your responsibility for the vehicle ends on that day.

There are handful of ways you can prepare to handover your car:

  • Ensure the vehicle is cleaned inside and out, ready for inspection.
  • Return both sets of keys – If you were given two sets of keys at the beginning of your lease, naturally you should return two sets of keys. In the meantime, try to not lose either set.
  • Gather together paperwork and manuals – this includes any service books, owner’s manuals or servicing invoices.


If you are concerned about greater damage to your vehicle, you may wish to consider getting it repaired by an authorised repairer such as the Swansway Accident Repair Centre.

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