February 7, 2023
If you’re coming to the end of the time with your current company car and want to know what you should do before handing the vehicle back then this is the article for you! As a fleet management company with employees who drive company cars we understand both sides of the process and how you as a driver can have the best experience possible.
Know the Process
Before you even start to think about preparing the car for it’s return the first thing you want to do is confirm the returns process with your fleet management team. Depending on your company, how the vehicle is funded and when the vehicle is being returned the process will be different.
One thing to be mindful of is that while you may have to arrange collection through your fleet team or they may ask you to arrange it directly with a finance company, and it will then be your responsibility to make sure the collection is arranged in a timely manner at an appropriate date.
If your company car is owned by the business or you are leaving the business before the end of your company car contract then you may be asked to return the vehicle to company premises rather than it being collected from you. If this is the case you should still follow the steps below though some of the points may not be applicable.
Additionally, there may be certain criteria you need to make sure are met when returning your company. This could be as simple as making sure there’s a half tank of fuel in the vehicle or arranging that company telematics devices are removed. It is important that you check this with your fleet management team so that you know what is expected of you.
Know Your Vehicle Dates
Though your company car will be managed by the fleet management team we recommend knowing its key dates yourself so you’re not surprised by something unexpected coming up.
You should know the date that you need to return the vehicle by, and if you need to how soon before that date it can be returned. Be aware that most funders have around a seven to 14 day leadtime on collections, so you’ll want to make sure you don’t leave it to the last minute to arrange collection. If your vehicle is being collected, please note that most collection companies only work Monday to Friday.
Other dates that you should be aware of are the servicing due date and MOT date for cars approaching or older than three years. These may affect collection if either of them are due close to or before your return date.
Make Sure the Car is Damage Free
You should regularly be inspecting your company car to make sure it is in the best condition possible but you’ll want to do a particularly thorough inspection before you had the vehicle back. We recommend doing this a couple of weeks before so that if you do spot any issues there is time to get these repaired before returning the vehicle.
If there is any damage you should check if it is acceptable to hand your vehicle back in that condition or if you should arrange repairs prior to handover. For a leased vehicle you will want to check the car is in line with the BVRLA’s fair wear and tear guidelines, and this is generally a good reference even if your vehicle is not leased for the condition you should keep the car in.
Part of checking for any necessary repairs is making sure that there are no warning lights on the dashboard. If there are then you should make sure that these are dealt with before returning the vehicle as a collection may fail or you could be penalised for it.
Ensure Any Maintenance or Servicing has Been Completed
Not only do you want to check the vehicle for damage you should also make sure that any necessary maintenance work and if it’s due a servicing is completed. Again, we’d recommend doing this a couple of weeks before the vehicle is returned so any large issues can be sorted and then repeating the smaller checks a few days before collection in case you need to do anything like topping up the washer fluid for handover.
Maintenance does include any of the small checks you’d be regularly making on the vehicle such as topping up fluid levels, making sure all the lights are working and checking your tyres.
Clean the Car
When it gets closer to the date of return you should clean the car, inside and out, to make sure it’s in the best possible condition for return. We’d recommend doing a full clean a few days prior to collection and just neatening up the day before so that you don’t feel as time-pressured or stressed.
We’ve got a detailed breakdown on cleaning your car at home or you can take it to a valet service if it’s more convenient.
Let HMRC Know if There is a Change in Circumstances
If you are handing back a company car because it has reached the end of its lease or is being sold on and are getting a new company car, so you continue to receive a company car benefit then you do not need to worry about notifying HMRC. If your new company car benefit is a lower or higher value benefit, then you will want to let them know of the change so that you are charged the correct amount of company car tax.
If you are returning the company car due to a change in circumstances such as a change in role, or leaving the business then you should also notify them.
One thing to be mindful of is that if your company car benefit is managed by your employer through the payroll they should handle the changes internally and you should not need to do anything.
If you are unsure whether you need to notify HMRC then you should speak to your fleet management team.
What to Do on the Day of Return
If your vehicle is being collected, then there are a few things to be aware of. Firstly, for companies that have a vehicle inspection and then collection this may not be conducted by the same agent. This means you might have the inspection completed and then have to wait a couple of hours before it is collected.
Secondly, though an estimated time slot may be provided this isn’t guaranteed and you should be prepared for collection to take place at any time that day.
If you are returning the vehicle yourself then you should make sure that you know where the vehicle is being returned to and who you should hand the keys over to. We recommend making a note of these details, as well as the time of return for your own records.
Returning a Wessex Managed Vehicle
If your vehicle is managed by Wessex Fleet then our Customer Services Team are here to help with any questions that you have about returning your company car. Just give them a call on 01722 322 888.
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