When you receive your brand new personal lease or business lease car your first thought is about driving it while your second and third may be about how you're going to keep your new car looking like new for as long as possible and how are you going to care for your new lease car and prevent dents and scratches. The first scratch or dent in any new car can be depressing, particularly when it wasn't your fault. It is very easy to miss small blemishes at the time of the incident unless you do a full detailed walk around your car every time you nip to the shop.
Causes of dents and scratches are too numerous to mention all of them, however, here are a few common causes.
There are two types of scratch that you need to be concerned about one is a light scratch these can be seen better on white, black or dark colour cars as well as solid colours. Paint options like pearlescent and metallic make noticing these types of clear coat imperfections harder. The second type of scratch is typically deeper and has penetrated the clear coat and in some cases removed the colour layer of the car. These can be caused by walls, car doors or metal bollards in car parks and drive-thrus often painted a bright colour showing the obvious paint transfer. Deep scratches are often a different colour showing the primer layer and if you run your finger across the scratch you will feel an edge to the scratch.
From the images above you can see, there are 4 main layers to a vehicles paint the base mental, primer and colour, finally the clear coat or lacquer, this is a protective transparent layer that is used to protect the colour of the car. Scratches in this coat can appear an off colour of the car, these scratches almost disappear while the car is wet, this is because water fills the small gap in the lacquer allowing light to reflect in a constant direction.
Temporary fixes for light scratches include gloss waxes and polishes, these need to be thin enough to fill the damage while being tough enough to repel dirt and water preventing any spread of the damage. This solution may last a few days however they may need to be repaired before the car is returned. Particularly any damage to key areas such as the wing mirror caps, roof and door edges.
There are a number of local companies that do lease return preparation for vehicles, you can request an evaluation to get a quote for repairing this damage. The repair will be performed by professionals who will buff the clear coat of the vehicle so that the scratch is shallow and is practically invisible, this is then either covered by a new layer of lacquer or polish to level out the reflective surface of the panel.
The deeper scratches have typically cut through the clear coat this can dull the shine of the affected area. Deep scratches are at risk of further contamination if the bare metal of the panel is exposed, corrosives including salt and road dirt can cause the issue to increase if untreated. There are no temporary fixes for this type of scratch, methods for reducing the damage caused after the incident include keeping the scratch clean, ensuring that no harsh chemicals come in to contact with the damaged area and sealing the scratch with a hard-wearing wax.
Scratches of this calibre would need to be repaired by a professional and would be subject to a quality check by the finance company when the lease car is returned. Damage like this is typical when the car rubs against something solid such as brick or stone, or steal bollards in public car parks and fast-food drive-thrus, road calming measures can also damage scuff plates and the underneath or vehicles, this, unfortunately, is difficult for most owners to check themselves before handing the car back. All of the finance companies used by All Car Leasing are fair and publish a full list of their policies where damage is concerned, more information can be found here.
As with scratches, some dents are perfectly acceptable by the finance companies standards and each vehicle is considered individually. Small stone chip damage in the bonnet and lower half of the doors are acceptable within reason, while mid door, rear quarter panel and boot lid dents are typically considered negligible care by the keeper.
Some dents are relatively cheap to repair while other nominal dents can cost hundreds to repair because of the type of dent or location, each dent would need to be evaluated and priced by a professional repair company or manufacturer. Dents are always best repaired by professionals as DIY repairs have in the passed caused excessive damage with heat guns and amateur pulling equipment.
Protecting your car from this type of damage is never easy in some cases you aren't responsible for the cause of the damage, children opening neighbouring car doors against your car or road debris hitting your vehicle on a motorway. Unfortunately, the keeper is responsible for the repair of the car whether this is pre-return or post-return billed by the finance company. Some simple tips to avoid damage include parking away from other cars, give yourself plenty of room when manoeuvring in public car parks and fast-food drive-thrus 360-degree sensors and parking cameras can mitigate the chances of damage, finally, aftermarket protection options including bonnet blankets, mud flaps as well as off-road parking away from potential debris in high winds will help to prevent unforeseen dents and scratches.