Purchasing rental cars

So here’s something I’ve always wondered and never really gotten solid information on: How good of an idea is it to purchase a car that used to be a rental?

My thought process has always been that it’s not a great idea because you don’t know how it’s been driven, and some folks might well abuse rentals because, well…they can. On the other hand, it seems like they’d need to be well maintained and the price is right for a lot of these things.

So what’s the good word?

Try the search window…This question has been answered many times…

No better or worst than buying a used car from a dealer lot with no known owner history.

The past four car I’ve rented have had very obvious issues that clearly showed they were not maintained. These issues ranged from bad brakes, oil change stickers that were thousands of miles overdue, dangerously under inflated tire, to downright filthy interiors.

That being said, I’ve has two cars in the past that were previous rentals and they were fine. Your just as likely to buy a private party or dealer car that has not been maintained.

Also, you have to wonder why a fairly new car is for sale. At least the rental company is probably getting rid of a car only because it’s over a certain mileage, not because there is a problem with it.

I say go for it. Of course, get it checked out by a mechanic, regardless of whether or not the car still carries a factory warranty.

Never seen it asked, didn’t think to search, pardon me.

The obvious answer is:
Like all used cars, it depends on the type of car it is. A Taurus is more likely not to be abused than a Mustang rental.

Yeah, taking Caddy’s suggestion I perused the previous topics on this matter; the consensus seems to be avoid the sportier models, but there’s lots of positive experiences. Have it checked out by a mechanic of course, though this should be with any used car.

Almost every car you see at a NEW car dealer that is a current model or only a year old and advertised as a “program car” was probably used as a rental. Rental companies buy (and then sell) thousands of cars annually. They get REALLY good fleet rates. The manufacturers look at part of those low prices as advertising. There are special auctions open ONLY to franchised dealers where used rental cars are offered. You probably know someone who bought car X because they had rented one on a trip and liked it. That’s the “program”.

Now, are they good cars? Yes, if you want a reasonably low mileage year-old car they are pretty much the only ones you’ll find out there. Would you want a year-old car that had been traded in by its private owner? Think about it. If he dumped it after only a year, he probably didn’t like it for some reason.

When you see cars that are exactly three years old, those are often OFF LEASE cars that have run the extent of their leases. Those can be good too, but only as good as their “owners” . Would you take the same care of a car you know you were going to turn in at the end of a given period as you would one that you owned? Probably not.

In my opinion it’s a coin flip and like any used car it should be inspected first.

My son was telling me last year that a guy he works with had a rental car for about a month while his car was tied up at a body shop. He put 4500 miles on it in one month (while working a full time job no less) and bragged to my son about whaling on it and never checking anything.
Apparently the rental company was a bit upset that he dropped it off after hours with an engine that was extremely low on oil.

I used to work for a large dealer that provided rental cars to a nameless chain (NcoughL) and used to wish for a pox on them.
Rather than bring vehicles in even for warranty work they would let the in-house guys tear into them and we saw a lot of butchered up problems and things that would make you scratch your head.
(A 4k miles Subaru that got a complete engine overhaul and was apparently reassembled with a dozen tubes of RTV sealer for instance. That goo was hanging out in gobs from every seam on that motor. They even RTVed the air compressor high pressure hose back together after breaking it!)

Nothing wrong with a rental car if the right amount of homework is done.

I’ve Purchased Several. I’d Do It Again. Need I Say More?

Maybe just a little more.

Get as few miles as you can. (I try to stay below 10-12 thousand, but I hear that’s getting tough.)

Get some factory warranty left on vehicle.

Unless you know what you’re looking at, check these things not covered by warranty:
Have a mechanic look it over and also inspect the under side for damage (Make sure it didn’t run over a bronze lifesize “rider on horseback” sculpture or something.)

Have a professional body man at a body/collision shop inspect for signs of previous repairs.

I pass on repaired vehicles.

Get a good enough deal to make it worth the chance that if something is amiss (that is not covered by warranty) you’ll still come out ahead of the game.

Need I say more? No, Thank You.


Oh, I forgot. If you can befriend someone at a dealer who sells the brand of car you’re looking at, they can use the VIN (vehicle identification number) to pull up and print the car’s service records, showing who it was sold to originally and sometimes any warranty work done, etcetera.

I’d prefer buying one from rental agency then a used car that just came off lease. If the previous owner of the lease vehicle is like a co-worker…it NEVER had an oil change or ever cleaned…He REFUSES to put one penny into any car he leases.

I purchased a 1988 Taurus through a Ford dealer that had been in a rental fleet. This was in October of 1988 and the car had about 7500 miles. It proved to be an excellent car. My lastest car is a 2006 Chevrolet Uplander minivan that I purchased in 2006 with 15,000 miles. I have well over 50,000 miles and have had no problems. The Uplander was called a “program” car so it could have been a rental.

In both cases the price was much lower than a new vehicle and I had the balance of the factory warranty. One interesting item: the Ford Taurus had power windows but did not have power doorlocks. The Uplander is the lowest trim line, but has a DVD player. I never used it, but my grand daughter, who was 4 at the time knew how to work it. I wouldn’t hesitate to purchase another car from a rental fleet.

I think it’s a much better bet than buying a previously owned late model used car.

Rental agencies change cars in order to have new product to rent in a competitive industry. I have no real data to show, but I’d guess that the overwhelming majority of them have nothing whatsoever wrong with them.

With late model prviously owned cars I always wonder why the owner got rid of it. Again, I have only anecdotal data, but I’d bet that most of them were traded because they had a problem.

The exception to this is large gas guzzlers. At the moment the market has lots of them out there that were traded only because of the gas mileage.

Rental cars do make up a large majority of late model used vehicles that you find on the lots. Equipment is usually lacking on these. I would avoid the ones that have run out factory warranty well before the time they were supposed to, which are the ones that are most common. Get an extended warranty if at all possible. It will be only $20-$30 a month more. Also don’t pay too much for them. I would pay @ $1000 less than the book compared to non rental/fleet vehicle. I would present it that way in the negotiation. Maintenance on a rental car is sketchy. I have heard some horror stories.