Damage to paintwork from bird droppings can be expensive on lease vehicles. Here is what you need to know.
This is a blog that no one wanted to write and less wanted to read. But still, here we are…….why? I’ll tell you why, because it is a subject which is little understood and can cost folks who lease vehicles hundreds of pounds. Here at Wondle, we are all about minimising your costs to return your lease vehicle, and this topic is right in the crosshairs. What is it? Bird Poo.
What are bird droppings made from?
This is a little more complicated than you may think. For various evolutionary reasons that an AI car damage detection website should not be getting into, the output (ahem) of a bird has 2 components. Let’s call them black and white (It’s often referred to as Guano). The black is the stinky waste product of the eaten foods, but the white (and clear) is the metabolic waste, all wrapped up in lashings of Uric Acid. That’s right, Acid.
Why do bird droppings matter with leased vehicles in the UK?
Well, here is an equation to help with this process of understanding. Acid + Vehicle Paint = Bad. But, there is an additional cause which is related to sunshine warming the vehicle making the surface lacquer expand. This happens simultaneously with the droppings hardening. This is all OK until the sun goes down and the surface of the paint contracts in the cooler air. At this point, the surface is etched around the shape of the hardened droppings. Damage done. This hopefully gets the point across that bird dropping can easily and quickly damage the paint finish on a vehicle. This type of damage is not considered to be Fair Wear and Tear by the British Vehicle and Leasing Association. If it is not acceptable damage that means a damage charge penalty is almost inevitable.
What can I do about the damaged paint finish on a leased vehicle?
Well, this falls into 2 categories, prevention and cure.
- The prevention of damaged paint from bird droppings - This is mostly about timely action. The amount of time it takes for damage to the paintwork to happen to a vehicle is surprisingly short, so the number one weapon in your armoury is speed. Don’t leave it, (It’s not a fine wine, it won’t improve with age!). At worst, you have hours, at best, a couple of days before the damage is caused. Use a damp cloth or specialist wipes to remove the dropping before it hardens.
2. The cure to repairing paint damage from bird droppings is more complicated and expensive, but the good news is that you still have options. This website is mostly about returning and repairing leased vehicles, so the advice here is specific to that. If you own the vehicle, don't intend to sell it and don’t mind the blemish staring you in the face every day, then you have the option to leave it. With a lease car or van, there is a consequence to this action.
If you leave the paintwork damaged and return the vehicle to the leasing company, it will be inspected under bright lights at a de-fleet centre by trained engineers. Every damage and blemish will be marked, measured and photographed, so there is a high probability that the damage will be recorded. This is then applied to the leasing company return standards matrix (Some leasing companies publish, many do not). One of the biggest leasing organisations in the UK state the following ‘...the vehicle should be rust-free with no discolouration or corrosion to the bodywork’ The charge for paint damage depends on the panel (and the size of the vehicle in this leasing company’s case).
The alternative to sending it back damaged is having it repaired. Most damage caused by bird droppings would be able to be SMART repaired, which is generally cheaper than a body shop repair and can often be conducted remotely at your home or office location. This can often be a cheaper option.
At this point, you will be asking yourself, ‘Is it cheaper to repair a lease car than pay penalty charges?’ for this question, we recommend you use a tool like Wondle.io, which can indicate the best route to you in just a few minutes and even offers to organise the repair if that’s what you decide.
Our advice here is to prevent it from happening, but if that's not possible, then make sure you at least deal with the situation optimally, and that means assessing your options. You can use the wondle tool quickly and easily to do that, but if you don't have access then a copy of the BVRLA fair wear and tear guide, a copy of your lease contract and charging matrix, a pen and paper and an afternoon to inspect and find repair prices will get the same result.