Normal vs. Excessive Wear and Tear — How to Avoid the Latter?

Carlease Staff - March 19, 2018

Normal vs. Excessive Wear and Tear — How to Avoid the Latter?

At the end of your lease, you will turn the car, truck, or SUV back into the lessor, and they will conduct an inspection. During the inspection, the representative will evaluate the condition of vehicle and document any wear and tear you put on the vehicle.

While a certain amount of wear and tear relative to the vehicle's age and mileage is expected, too much wear and tear can be deemed excessive and result in a fee. If you're looking to avoid the excessive wear and tear fee, it's best to review your individual contract to understand what your lessor expects.

However, at, we can provide a benchmark or overview of what most lessors may deem normal vs excessive wear and tear. In addition, we offer two solutions to help you avoid incurring any excessive wear and tear charges on your lease. Continue reading to learn more about normal vs excessive wear and tear — and now to avoid the latter.

What Is Normal Wear and Tear?

The majority of lease contracts will allow a considerable amount of wear and tear on the vehicle without you being required to pay additional fees. Many normal wear and tear items may include the replacement of light bulbs, tires, and brakes. Make sure to check your lease contract to determine what they consider to be a component of regular vehicle maintenance.

In general, damages that are small in nature or have a smaller diameter of usually less than ½" will be considered normal wear and tear. While each lessor's definition can vary, typical examples of normal wear and tear include:

  • Exterior dings and scratches that can be easily buffed out.
  • Interior stains or damage that can be removed.
  • Tires that match the manufacturer's recommended guidelines.
  • Minor nicks or scuffs on the wheel covers or wheels.
  • Tread depth over ⅛ of an inch at the most shallow point in the tire
  • Any damage to the windshield that is less than ½ of an inch
  • Cracks in lamps, turn signals, and lights that are less than 2" in diameter
  • No broken parts or missing equipment

Excessive Wear and Tear

Any damages to the vehicle the lessor considers to be outside of normal will be deemed excessive. You'll be held liable for paying the required amount to replace or repair the vehicle — whichever option is less expensive.

As previously mentioned, your contract may specifically state what the lessor considers to be "excessive wear and tear". In other instances, the lessor may charge the excessive fee for any use that isn't considered reasonable. Although each lessor's definition of excessive can vary, a few common examples include:

  • Any punctures or damage to the bumper, body, or molding bigger than 2 inches in diameter costing more than $100 to repair.
  • If the vehicle has any broken or missing parts, it will be considered excessive — regardless of the cost.
  • Any rough texture, visible grinding/sanding marks, bad color match areas bigger than 2 inches in diameter, or excessive overspray.
  • Any exterior damage that significantly hampers the appearance of the vehicle or reduces its marketability.
  • All frame damage or poorly repaired frame damage that impacts the structural integrity of the vehicle.
  • Interior stains, tears, cuts, burns, and areas singed more than ½" in diameter
  • Tire tread depth below ⅛ of an inch at the most shallow point
  • Bent, mismatched, cracked, or broken wheels or rims
  • Tires with cuts, gouges, or sidewall plugs; or tires in a condition that compromises vehicle passenger safety.
  • Any hole in the lamps, turn signals or lights; or cracks larger than 2" in length.
  • Any damage to the windshield more than ½" in diameter, or any hole at all in the windshield.
  • Any mechanical or electrical component not functioning properly or not repaired to the manufacturer's specifications.

How to Avoid Excessive Wear and Tear Charges?

When you lease a vehicle, it's imperative to take good care of the vehicle. Make sure you always have the vehicle's regularly scheduled maintenance performed. At the same time, you should get as much information as possible, so you can be very clear on the types of damages that could result in additional charges.

Wear & Tear Protection

One simple trick is to purchase wear and tear insurance anytime you lease the vehicle. Wear and tear insurance can help offset any fees associated with excessive wear and tear. Most wear and tear insurances do not have a deductible and provide up to a specified amount (usually around $5,000) waiver benefit for typical causes of excessive wear and tear, such as:

  • Interior tears and stains
  • Minor bumper damage and body damage of more than 2 inches in diameter
  • Broken paint and scratches caused by dings and dents

Car Door Guards

Car door guards are one of the most economical ways to protect your vehicle door from dings, dents, and scratches. If you don't have a car door guard, any vehicle next to yours can easily strike your door and leave a mark. However, with a car door guard, this molded piece of plastic will absorb the hit — leaving your vehicle untouched.

A simple car door guard will save you the money and aggravation of fixing accidental bumps and bruises at lease end. Most importantly, it will keep your vehicle looking spectacular throughout your lease.

Contact for Business & Personal Leasing Solutions

A growing number of people and businesses are choosing to lease vehicles over the traditional purchase. Much of the popularity of car leases can be attributed to their lower monthly payment, ability to drive a new vehicle every few years, and worry-free ownership. While auto leases have a growing number of benefits, one of the most notable challenges to leasing is the ever-looming excessive wear and tear charge.

The leasing experts at will work with you every step of the way to ensure you get the best coverage, lowest possible payments and fully understand your lease agreement. Browse hundreds of makes and models today, and drive off in your dream car tomorrow.

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