After years of touring country roads, taking road trips and performing maintenance, there’s bound to be a gradual deterioration in the condition of your car.

This partly explains the significant drop-off in value over the years following a new car purchase. However, the lines between wear and tear and more serious damage can seem pretty blurred. Aiming to give some clarity, we’ll explain the meaning of wear and tear in this article, highlighting the essential checks and measures that you can take to keep your car in the best possible condition.

what is wear and tear?

In general terms, wear and tear can be classed as deterioration that’s to be expected in the regular use of a vehicle. Although likely to affect the desirability and potential resale value, it won’t have been caused by an accident, negligence or unexpected failure. Such wear and tear will be taken into account by leasing companies, as well as those offering personal contract purchase (PCP) contracts, given its impact on the eventual resale value of the vehicle.

Wear and tear will happen naturally, as everyday driving results in the gradual deterioration of car components. Exposure to varying weather and outdoor environments is also bound to take a toll. You can assess such impacts by carrying out a visual inspection, beginning with the car panels and roof. The interior of the car should also be thoroughly checked.

Some examples of wear and tear can be:

  • Light bodywork scratches and scuffs
  • Small paint chips that aren’t rusting
  • Wheel trim scratches
  • Tyres that are slightly over the minimum legal tread depth
  • Small windscreen scratches (which don’t obstruct the driver’s line of sight)
  • Battery degradation

If you’re in any doubt about what constitutes fair wear and tear then you should refer to the guidelines that should have been provided by the car manufacturer or financing company.

considering the risks

Some instances of wear and tear are more serious than others and should be dealt with before you continue driving the car. This is the case with unresponsive brakes and tyres that are close to the minimum legal limit.

If you experience such issues then you may need to take your car to a trusted mechanic or get in touch with your financing company. Repairs should be carried out as soon as possible, so that you don’t put yourself at avoidable risk. Otherwise, you might breach the contract terms and potentially face penalty charges.

These instances of car damage are likely to be considered unacceptable for wear and tear:

  • Severe wheel and trim damage
  • Rust, corrosion or paint discolouration
  • Returning the vehicle with warning lights
  • Burns, cuts, scratches or dents to trim, seat covers and floor coverings
  • Missing items, bent or broken parts to equipment and controls
  • Windscreen chips and critical damage

keeping your car in good shape

You can go a long way to limiting wear and tear by taking care of your car from the first day of purchase. It’s essential that you follow the manufacturer’s maintenance intervals and any recommendations given by the financing company.

Routine car inspections should also be carried out, with your vehicle being serviced at regular intervals. The services should also be recorded as evidence that can be shared at the end of your contract period.

These steps can also be taken to limit the deterioration of used cars:

  • Adopting responsible driving practices (keeping to the highway code)
  • Not driving in extreme conditions
  • Using protective car covers and films
  • Avoiding driving on an empty tank
  • Regularly cleaning the car interior and exterior.

Read more: Full service history (fsh), explained

high quality used cars, here

By looking after your motor and keeping it in good condition, you may be able to keep on the road for longer or secure more equity in a resale to put towards your next vehicle. There’ll also be the option of returning your car to the finance company, provided that it's in a suitable condition and that you’ve stuck to the agreed mileage.

If you’re in need of a dependable used car, look no further than

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