In today’s market it’s essential to know what condition fleet vehicles are in for a number of very good reasons.
If the vehicle is in a remote location, inspection enables the fleet operator to fully understand how the driver has looked after it during its life.
This information might be used to penalise a driver for causing undue damage over fair wear and tear.
It is also used to assist in ascertaining a vehicle’s likely value and of course to provide more information to buyers who might be using the internet to search for vehicles they want.
Generally, inspection services are available throughout the UK, providing flexibility and onward vehicle logistics solutions. Inspections undertaken by the main auction companies are carried out by trained inspectors deployed in company vehicles.
Drivers can also be teamed with the inspectors to provide a simultaneous uplift of the inspected vehicles (inspect and collect). This service is usually available from any location in the UK with delivery into nominated auction centres or other defleet locations.
In today’s modern remarketing environment technology plays a key part in the vehicle inspection process.
For example, Manheim Auctions deploys the latest hand-held technology with either wireless or GPRS connectivity for both on-site inspections and those done at off-site locations.
This enables timely and accurate electronic transfer of vehicle data back to the main database, which customers can access using a web browser.
Not surprisingly, buyers are more likely to seek out those vehicles which are in better condition than those that are damaged.
This doesn’t mean to say that dents and scratches make vehicles unsaleable, but they certainly reduce the level of interest and highlight the value of pre-sale reconditioning.
Significant investments have been made by the remarketing industry in reconditioning and smart repair services.
Generally available at any of the major UK locations, these are designed to assist vendors to derive the maximum value from their fleet by ensuring ex-fleet vehicles are presented to the market in a condition most likely to optimise the sale price.
Reconditioning, using smart repair methods, is a very effective way of enhancing a vehicle’s value and can be done very efficiently, as all work is carried out on-site on a ‘just in time’ basis.
Smart repairs include paintless dent removal, localised paint refinishing, cosmetic refurbishment of trim and upholstery and repairs to chipped or scuffed alloy wheels.
Perhaps one of the simplest and most cost-effective ways of attracting interest in your ex-fleet vehicles is to ensure they are properly cleaned at the time of sale.
Don’t let buyers wonder what a vehicle might be like when it is clean – let them see for themselves and present it to it’s best effect, inside and out.
All auction companies offer a comprehensive range of valeting services throughout the country, from a basic wash and leather through to a high retail-standard package, all at surprisingly reasonable prices.
Time and time again, customer surveys confirm that buyers have greater confidence in a vehicle – and also the vendor – when vehicles are presented in excellent condition. Attracting more buyers means better first time sale conversions and higher prices.
Vehicles sold in auction are all also subject to statements about their mechanical condition, which are particularly important as buyers are not able to drive vehicles before bidding on them.
These statements may range from ‘sold as seen’, where the vendor does not wish to offer any opinion on the vehicle’s mechanical condition, through to specific declarations by the vendor which may include a statement such as ‘no major mechanical faults’.
When any such opinion is given it must be based on a reasonable knowledge of the vehicle, because a buyer will have recourse should it be proven to be inaccurate.
It is quite common for fleet vendors not to have physically seen their vehicles prior to them being collected and entered into auction.
As such, an extremely effective method of creating buyer confidence is to instruct the auction company to produce an engineer’s report on a vehicle on your behalf. This service is generally available from the leading auction companies.
Source: Managing Your Company Car, Expert Opinion, by Colin Tourick. Contributor: Rob Barr, Manheim.
Fair wear and tear standards
What is fair wear and tear?
Fair wear and tear occurs when normal usage causes deterioration to a vehicle. It is not to be confused with damage which occurs as a result of a specific event or series of events such as impact, inappropriate stowing of items, harsh-treatment, negligent acts or omissions.
Why do we have end of contract charges?
End of contract charges reflect the loss of value in the vehicle to the leasing company when it is returned in a poorer condition than originally contracted. The leasing company will not necessarily carry out any damage repair or refurbishment prior to selling the vehicle. BVRLA members should clearly explain the end of lease return procedure to their customers.
BVRLA members are encouraged to clearly explain to the customer their policy on the type of damage that will be chargeable, state the starting point in terms of restoration costs and provide a statement of what constitutes fair wear and tear. Additionally, the customer’s right to inspect and/or obtain evidence of damage to the vehicle should be clearly specified. Most members will employ the BVRLA’s industry fair wear and tear standard.
The BVRLA industry standard
BVRLA produces three different Fair Wear and Tear Guides, for passenger vehicles including MPVs, light commercial vehicles and heavy goods vehicles. The aim of the guides is to provide an industry-wide, accepted standard that defines fair wear and tear when vehicles are returned to a BVRLA member at the end of a contract or finance agreement. The guides also provide advice for best practice in vehicle maintenance and upkeep that will prevent unacceptable wear and tear from occurring.
The industry standard is defined using both images and text for every aspect of the vehicle's condition in the following areas:
•General appearance, documentation, keys Image
•Paintwork, vehicle body, bumpers and trim
•Windows and glass
•Tyres and wheels
•Equipment and controls
You can request a copy of the BVRLA industry standard through your leasing company. Alternatively you can order a hard copy direct for a small charge.
Appraising your vehicle
We recommend that you carry out an appraisal of the vehicle before it is due to be returned. This will identify any damage that does not constitute fair wear and tear and requires repair. Use the BVRLA Fair Wear and Tear Guide and these key tips when appraising your vehicle:
•Carry out the appraisal of the vehicle 10 – 12 weeks before the vehicle is due for return. This will allow you to arrange to have any unacceptable wear and tear rectified.
•It is important to appraise the vehicle as honestly as you can – be objective. Ask a friend or colleague to help you.
•Choose a time and place with good light. This is how the leasing company will examine your vehicle. Appraisals carried out in poor light invariably miss some faults.
•Before appraising the vehicle, make sure that it has been washed and is thoroughly clean but remember to allow time for it to dry. Water on the paintwork can mask faults.
•Walk all the way around the vehicle and examine closely each panel including the roof, bonnet, doors, and body for significant damage. Observe where the light is reflected differently from dents and scratches.
•Crouch or kneel down at the front and rear of the vehicle and look along each side. This will help you see scratches and dents that may otherwise be difficult to spot.
•Inspect lamps, lenses, windows and mirrors for chips, cracks and holes.
•Check the tyres (including spare) for damage. Check that the wear on the tread across Clean and valet the interior.
•Check upholstered areas for odours, tears, burns, stains and wear.
•Inspect all controls, including audio equipment and accessories – they should be present and fully functional.
At the end of the lease when the vehicle is to be collected, representatives of the member and the customer must check and agree on the vehicle condition. All readily apparent damage to the vehicle will be noted on the vehicle collection sheet, which you’ll know about if you’ve completed your own appraisal.
If, for whatever reason, you cannot be present for the collection, or the vehicle cannot be inspected due to poor weather or if the vehicle is too dirty, the member should send you a formal notice in writing confirming the reason for non-inspection, including a clear statement that the vehicle will undergo a full inspection at the member’s nominated site.
BVRLA conciliation service
All contract hire and leasing companies in BVRLA membership are obliged under the BVRLA Code of Conduct to trade fairly and responsibly in all dealings with their customers. On occasion, disagreements will arise between customers and BVRLA members which cannot be settled directly. Unresolved disputes can be referred to the Association, providing that the dispute is with a BVRLA member.