In my past life as a vehicle appraiser and inspector for a major used car retailer, I think that I came close to appraising every make and model available. During that time, I also appraised and inspected cars that were maintained in every way imaginable. People would bring in cars that were scratched and/or dented, smelly, and just not taken care of – and they always expected top dollar for it! 

Buyers have expectations
A buyer generally will pay top dollar for a vehicle only when they can tell it has been well maintained and if it is equipped with all the factory equipment.

We have all heard the saying to not judge a book by its cover. But, when it comes to cars, buyers are judging your vehicles the moment they see them. Some buyers will not even consider a car that has any cosmetic issues, and that’s only scratching the surface (pun intended).

Once you pique the buyer’s interest with the exterior condition of your vehicle, what happens if the driver didn’t maintain the vehicle’s inner workings? Some buyers may not be car savvy enough to identify engine issues, but we must be.

Our audience expects top-notch fleet vehicles where the interior, exterior and engine have been well-maintained. There is a perception in the marketplace that fleet vehicles are turned in properly, and in better condition than the average car on the road. But is that still true?

Drivers will be drivers
I had a guy bring in a car with a spoiler that he installed after market. It was an older vehicle and the spoiler did not increase the value of the car, but the appraisal noted that it was part of the vehicle. Within the seven-day window he had to accept the offer, he removed the spoiler and brought the car back in to sell it. It had several large holes drilled in the trunk that were now causing water to pool inside. I explained that the offer was based on the car not having a pool of water in the trunk and huge holes in the trunk lid. I told him that he would need to reattach the spoiler or I was going to drop the offer by $500.

But then I read a very similar story in Automotive Fleet about a fleet vehicle that was sent to a wholesaler to sell on consignment. He was shocked to see holes in the roof when it was delivered. When asked about it, the driver said he took the roof rack off that he had purchased as a driver-paid option. He thought it was quite reasonable to take it off and bolt it to his new car. But it’s not!

I’m sure you would agree that leaving gaping holes in a turn-in vehicle – fleet or not – is not acceptable wear and tear.

Condition is only part of it
When turning in a fleet vehicle for resale, we are concerned with more than just the condition of the vehicle. We also want to ensure that there are no safety or privacy concerns surrounding the personal information left in the vehicle. Often the personal information left in the vehicle is not paperwork or documents, but personal details that are programmed in the car’s technology, such as the navigation or Bluetooth. Like most technological advancements, drivers can be somewhat unprepared for how to handle these situations.

Did you know that a company in possession of this personal information is legally required to protect the privacy of this data? But, sadly, employee privacy is sometimes inadvertently compromised with vehicle sales to other employees, remarketing in the wholesale market, accident-damaged vehicles sold as salvage, and vehicles repossessed from former employees.

Help is on the way
LeasePlan’s experts are here to provide some insight. We put together a checklist that details the process your driver should follow before turning in their vehicle. Following the checklist will not only maximize the vehicle’s value for your company, but it will also safeguard your drivers’ personal information and privacy.

After reading this list, please share it with your drivers through this link.

  1. Remove your belongings – It’s easy to leave personal items behind, so make sure you clean out the vehicle before you turn it in. You also want to ensure you remove any company materials as well, such as pharmaceutical samples.
  2. Turn in two sets of keys – Did you know that the average price for a set of keys is $250? That’s a big expense you and your company can avoid by having both sets at turn-in time.
  3. Replace your headrest(s) – If you removed your headrests, which some drivers do to gain visibility, you need to put them back. Each one can cost $300-$400 to replace and brings down the vehicle’s value.
  4. Reset garage door opener – For safety reasons, you want to make sure the programmable garage door opener in your vehicle is erased. Check your owner’s manual for how to do this as every car has different instructions.
  5. Remove any personal information – Maintenance receipts that list your name and address, bank statements, credit card bills, etc. should be removed to protect your identity.
  6. Erase personal data – Leaving data in your car’s navigation or Bluetooth systems when turning in your vehicle can compromise your privacy. To avoid inadvertently giving out any of this information, be sure to erase the data using instructions in your owner’s manual.
  7. Take pictures – To record your vehicle’s condition at turn-in time, it’s always a good idea to capture it with pictures and/or video. In case any damage occurs after pick-up, there won’t be any disputes. Take a picture of the odometer reading and any warning lights on the dashboard as well.

And, as always, if you need any help, please reach out to us.

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