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Buying a Car from a Rental Agency

I’m looking to buy an Accord or another Japanese car in its class. Has anyone had any experience purchasing a used car from a rental agency, or should just stick with a new vehicle?

Good luck finding an Accord or Camry for sale from a rental agency, since those cars are rarely ever sold as rentals. A Hyundai Sonata, or any of the US not-so-Big 3 cars are more likely to be found on rental lots.

That said, as long as it’s not a sporty car you’re looking at (and judging by your desires, I’d say that’s unlikely) the car should be decent. But, like any used car purchase, have the vehicle checked out by a mechanic prior to buying it. It’d probably be a good bet, but not a certain one. Good luck.

I bought my Suzuki Swift hatch (one year old) from Thrifty Rental in Louisville. It’s been an absolute dream car; was clean as a whistle and well-maintained when I got it, they made me a good deal on my trade-in (Geo Metro hatch), I got it at a very fair price, they allowed me to take it to my mechanic (in another city). Found it on, so even the search was painless; it was even the color I wanted. Couldn’t have been happier and still love the car seven years later: trouble-free. I’d highly recommend buying from a repuatable rental agency. I only wish they had a fleet of Smart Cars or Toyota Yarises today…

A lot varies with the agencies’ maintenance policies. My mother bought one from Budget in southwest Missouri and it did well. The last car I rented in DC was from North Carolina and was over 3K past a 5K oil change interval, according to the label. Apparently, no one in DC noticed or took it our of service to change oil in this car, and it was going to go out on another rental excursion within a couple of hours of my return (also Budget). I used to think the rental agencies accomplished at least the minimum maintenance required on their fleet, but I am re-thinking that belief, since this isn’t the first nor the only rental agency where I noticed the problem.

There is a risk involved but no more than a negligent car owner or leasee. The risk is reflected in lower price typically with former rentals.

I agree that it may be difficult to find Toyotas or Hondas. I have seen Toyotas of all flavors more recently at National, but that only started in the 2007 model year.

The nice thing is that many rental sales are still relatively low-mileage (under 30k), so there is actually less scheduled maintenance that could have been neglected. In other words, you’re not going to be past the scheduled transmission fluid change, whereas a privately owned vehicle at 60k may well be 30k past its scheduled change.

Sure, there is the image that people beat rentals to death, but most renters I see are no more harsh on their cars than an average driver, and the ones that are only end up driving that vehicle for a few miles before turning it back in.

I’ve never had bad luck with formal rentals… no more so than any normal used car.

The Mazda6 is a popular rental car, isn’t it? That might be a good choice if you can find one.

I’d ask for maintenance records if you can get them, or at least drive it and have it checked out by your mechanic. People have posted here before with good results buying former rental cars, but it’s always possible to get the beat-to-heck car too.

Four or five years ago, we went into Chicago to Hertz outlet. They said they sell trouble cars at auction, and do not want to sell cars that have needed many repairs to lower their outlet reputation. Also, they have to have required maintenance.

We got him a small Maxda, and it has been very trouble free. He hates it because it’s so hard to change oil and filter, but it runs okay.

At that time,they did have Corollas, but we chose to save the several thousand dollars.

We would do it again if the need arose. We were satisfied.

I have purchaseed cars from rental fleets and ones coming off leases. The ones coming off leases (program cars) seemed to be in somewhat better condition, appearance-wise. I couldn’t tell any mechanical difference.

Our fleet manager always used to be against buying from rental agencies but mainly because there was not a big enough discount. They buy in such huge volume that they sell them for about what they paid for them.

Kinda of like buying from a used car lot. Some good some bad, just never know which ones have been abused. Personally I’d feel better about a leased car. You really should check the rates now though and might be able to get into a brand new one for not too much more. This is a good time to buy cars, houses, stock, etc.

Enterprise has used car lots in the St. Louis area. Be careful, lots of people run the crap out of rental cars since they do not own them.

I’ve said this before, but I’ll repeat it: Bought a Mazda6 from Enterprise, now 15 months ago. No problems thus far. Pretty interesting, considering the Mazda6 does not have the greatest reliability ratings.


I haven’t bought one from a rental agency but when I rent one for business I beat on it like a cheap drum. Most renters don’t drive their rental cars nearly as nicely as their regular vehicles. I was in a hurry in Minneapolis a few weeks ago. I started my rental car in the -10 degree (Fahrenheit) weather and dropped it in drive to get to my meeting on time. OUCH!!!