The Pros and Cons of Buying a Rental Car

If you are, you’ve probably already looked at some previous rentals – plenty of used car dealers are full of them. Buying a previously rented car, just like buying any other used car, has its benefits and drawbacks in terms of mileage, maintenance, model year, resale value, and more. Here’s a look at the pros and cons of buying an earlier rental. The Pro: Previous rental cars are usually newer models that rental car companies want to entice customers with new vehicles, not models from 10 years ago. To make room on their parts for new cars they buy on a regular basis, rental car companies need to sell their “older” cars – vehicles that are usually only two years old, ideal for buying used cars. A two-year-old former rental car may come with modern technology, but at a lower price than the same two-year-old model led by one owner. Cons: Rental cars often have high mileage If low mileage is high on your priority list, you should know that a rental car that is a year or two old is likely to have higher mileage than a similar privately owned car. Major rental companies usually sell cars from 25,000 to 40,000 miles – and those miles tend to be heavily driven because they come from multiple drivers who may not be inclined to take care of the car. Pros: Get regular maintenance and cleaning Although the car may have been driven hard during its rental period, it is also likely that it was well taken care of during that time. While renters may not take pride in ownership, rental car companies do – it is in their best interest to keep their cars in top condition. This is why the most reputable rental companies follow the message and hire well-qualified mechanics or outsource their vehicle service to trusted dealerships. In fact, many car rental companies take such good care of their cars that they are willing to offer their own guarantee on car sales, as well as other types of coverage to smooth the deal. This sets them apart from most used cars, as you may have to haggle for any extras. Both Hertz and Enterprise offer a 12-month/12,000-mile Limited Powertrain Warranty, and Avis has a variety of extended warranty options. All three companies also indicate that many of their sales vehicles are still under the original factory warranty. Cons: Rental cars likely have suffered more wear As mentioned above, mileage on rental cars can be tricky miles. Different driving styles – one renter is heavy on the brakes, the next renter loves to run on the throttle – often leads to premature wear. Each new driver will naturally drive the car a little differently than the previous one, and it can be a little harsher on the car once they get used to driving it. While most renters don’t want to damage the car (because they’ll have to pay for it), many customers are more aggressive with car rentals than with their own. Pros: You can buy earlier rentals at lower cost Since rental agencies buy their new cars in reduced quantities and need to sell cars in order to renew their rental fleet, they usually offer lower rates on their car sales. “We’re not looking to make a lot of money on our used cars,” Greg Nirenberg, vice president of fleet services at Avis Budget Group, said in October 2017, and we all have easy-to-use websites where consumers can sort used car deals in their area. All three also list non-negotiable rates: a non-negotiable rate means you’ll know in advance what you can expect to pay (financing options will depend on your credit score, of course). Both Avis and Hertz offer a three-day test drive where the customer pays the rental fee in advance, but this fee is refunded if the driver buys the car. Enterprise is extending that trial period to seven days. Cons: Your previous rent will get you lower resale value A previous lease may cost less money up front, but it will also return less money down the road. Getting a used rental car is tricky, because many shoppers are so apprehensive about buying previous rental cars that some states have passed laws that allow car dealers to call rental cars “program cars” in hopes of avoiding stigma. Previous rentals are also affected by the fact that these vehicles are being sold at such a large volume. When the market is flooded with thousands of cars of the same make and model, all at about the same time and with similar mileage, the price of that make and model drops. The low resale value doesn’t matter to a customer planning to drive the car to the ground, but for drivers who plan to trade in their car in a few years and hope to do so, it’s important to note the low resale value of previous rental cars. Bottom Line On CarGurus, all rental cars are marked as “fleet,” but not all cars marked “fleet” are past rentals. To find out if a CarGurus “Fleet” is rented, check the vehicle’s history report. Of course, purchasing a vehicle history report and requesting a service history document is important, but it is especially important when looking at a previous rental. It is also recommended to take a previous rental to a trusted mechanic before purchasing it. With all of these pros and cons in mind, a previous rental car can offer relatively new technical and safety features at an affordable price. Related topics

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