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Car Leasing: The Good, The Bad And The Ugly

Aug 5, 2008
Some strange faces were pulled when I was asked to tell a scary story to my kids one Halloween and I relayed a tale of trepidation, persecution and horror about leasing a car. The fact is that when it comes to car leasing, like many other industries there are good, bad and sometimes just plain ugly customer experiences.

Choosing a car is possibly the most enjoyable part of the entire process. Like a child in a sweet shop you can browse at all the latest models within your price range, salivating at the otherwise unobtainable quality of the glorious machines. Car leasing can be a cost effective alternative to buying and maintaining a vehicle with the option of purchasing at the end of the agreement.

It all starts so well when you decide which make and model you want, all at the click of a button. The monthly instalments fit with your budget and in the rush of blood to the head, you sign without completing a full check of the paperwork. This is where all the tragedy begins, that is unless you follow this comprehensive guide to avoid headaches and expense.

How much is the rental rate? Whatever the provider might have you think these depend on a number of different factors such as usage, circumstances and the status of your license, so be sure that the provider has taken these into account and individually priced your agreement. The British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association is a good sounding board for prices.

What is included or excluded? Examine the sections of the contract to establish whether you have unlimited mileage or not, this can potentially be negotiated with the provider. Establish of VAT is included or excluded and factor in any special requirements the contract has regarding terminating the lease early, insurance claims or returning the vehicle.

What do you do in the event of a breakdown? Within the agreement should be a section about breakdown cover. This might be covered within the insurance however most vehicles should have it, or the agreement should be priced accordingly excluding breakdown cover. Check which provider it is with and get their details to avoid shivering at the side of the road and paying hefty call out fees.

Allow time to check the vehicle thoroughly before taking it. All providers should have the mileage on the contract that matches that of the car, and a blank space where the final mileage should be. Check the vehicles chassis and ensure the agreement notes any damage, also including spare tire, before you sign it.

Check the insurance policy carefully. It is UK law that all hired or leased cars are insured by the provider however it is by no means a standard policy and this is where less reputable providers cut corners. Check what the insurance provision covers and what the excess is in the event of an accident. You can take Collision Damage Cover if you are not willing to risk the excess.

Read the policy carefully and ask questions. Are there any exclusions such as tires, windscreens or overhead damage? If there are two or more named drivers have their details been supplied? I can say this from personal experience, do not admit liability in the event of an accident, simply exchange details and including any witnesses then contact the provider.

There are some reputable companies out there and a massive tip is to go through the BVRLA who operate a standards driven approved members list. They also operate the notorious RISC or Rental Industry Secure Customer list which shares information on customers who have operated dangerously or illegally.
About the Author
Shaun Parker is a supplier of leased vehicles with many years of experience in the vehicle hire industry.
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