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What constitutes normal wear and tear?

The ambiguity around what constitutes “normal” wear and tear on company vehicles can be annoying at best, and at worst, costly. It’s important to have a clear understanding and policy of what kind of wear and tear is to be expected and accepted, versus actual damages. It’s important because when it comes to terminating a lease, trading in, or reselling, you don’t want to have any surprises regarding the value of the vehicles. So, what types of wear and tear are to be expected? Let’s break it down by section. 


The most obvious, and usually the most likely area to incur damages. This includes scratches, chips, dents, and corrosion. Scratches that can be buffed out aren’t an issue. Also, most times if a scratch, chip, or dent is less than two inches and has not penetrated the base coat, it’s acceptable. Not acceptable: punctures, broken/missing parts, and poor repair work/bad paint matching. Last, the more fragile components, windshields, windows, and light lenses. Minor nicks and scratches to the windshield and windows from gravel and such are acceptable as long as they don’t interfere with the driver’s view, and they don’t compromise the integrity of the glass. Same goes for light covers – cracks and holes are not acceptable, but small scuffs are expected. 


There’s no getting around the wear on the upholstery – you sit on it every day. While it’s expected not to look like new, noticeable stains, rips, and burns are not okay. Also, if a driver smoked in a vehicle or allowed pets in a vehicle during personal use, there’s a good chance you can smell it. You may be able to eliminate the scents, but if not, expect a lower value. Dust and dirt are pretty standard for vehicles that have been on a work site, but caked-on mud isn’t acceptable. And burnt-out bulbs for interior lights aren’t a big deal either. 

Wheels and Tires

The wheels and tires certainly get the most action in terms of wear and tear. Generally, scuffs and minor nicks to the wheels are to be expected. But dents, bends, or even mismatched wheels won’t pass inspection. And all tires, including the spare, will need to meet the manufacturer’s guidelines. They can have some wear, but typically the tread needs to have a depth of at least 1/8 inch, if not more. Also, tires cannot have damage or punctures – existing or repaired – to the sidewalls or through the tread. 

Unfortunately, there is no standard for acceptable, “normal wear and tear” because it is subjective and decided by the company providing the leased vehicles. What constitutes a reasonable amount of wear and tear to one company is not necessarily acceptable to another. That said, most dealers have an established set of maintenance rules for leased vehicles that you can share with your drivers. And some dealers offer an inspection before the lease ends to establish the condition of the vehicle so you can determine whether there is any excess wear and tear ahead of time. Hopefully the examples above can help you inform your own policies. To really drive it home, share images of acceptable versus excessive wear and tear with your drivers, and not just once – be sure to remind drivers every so often through company newsletters, staff meetings, or whenever vehicles are being serviced. It’s better to keep updated on wear and tear so efforts can be made to keep it to a minimum.

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