Safe to buy Used Rental Cars

Thinking of buying from Enterprise Car Sales. Obviously, some of these cars are USED RENTAL VEHICLES. They offer nice warranties and certifications… What’s your take on these cars??

My take on it is that it’s probably OK if you avoid the “sporty” cars. There are people who will hotdog in any car, but it’s more likely if the car has a sporty reputation. In other words, stay away from the Camaros and Firebirds, but the dull family sedans were mostly rented by dull family men on business trips and likely not abused.

Buying a used car is always a “crap shoot”, no matter from whom you buy it. Owners are rarely candid about maintenance (or lack of it), driving habits, etc.

In the case of rental cars, the rental company has no idea about how many times a particular car had its front wheels rammed into a curb or whether someone thought that it was humorous to rev the engine while in neutral and then throw it into gear while the engine was racing at 3,000 rpms. And, trust me, I have witnessed these exact scenarios with rental cars driven by inept or “joker” drivers whom I have known.

Some people will tell you that rental cars are “well maintained”. In reality, these cars get the absolute minimum maintenance that the manufacturer specified–otherwise, the cars would be out of commission too long to generate profits for the rental company. The maintenance that they give their cars is undoubtedly better than what some owners would do, and is not as good as what you or I would do if we wanted to keep a car running at its optimum for many years.

It’s your money, so all I can say is that if you want to go this route, be sure to have a thorough pre-purchase inspection performed by a trusted independent mechanic of your choice. Otherwise, you could wind up with some headaches. Personally, I would avoid them like the plague, but to each his own.

“and likely not abused”

Except for the twelve times that the front wheels were rammed into a curb by a family man (or woman) who was a really poor driver!


It’s probably OK, but I can’t help remembering all the abuse that I inflected on rental cars when I first started traveling on business (about 25 years ago). Our favorate trick was to steal the wheels from out friend’s (co-worker’s) rental and replace them with the mini-spares from 4 other cars, forcing him to ride around on four tiny wheels (until he bought us enough beer to get his wheels back). Fun and games.

No more likely than any other used car.

We all have examples of exuberant, youthful behaviour. However , I still rent cars 2 to 3 times per month, and a Buick or similar family car on average gets driven conservatively. They all get good maintenance and are washed after every rental, so the road salt gets less chance to build up. The Avis guy in my neighbouhood says the really bad ones they might have are auctioned off, since the dealer does not want them. Avis cars here go back to the dealer they came from after 20,000 miles or so and are sold at a great discount. I would not hesitate to buy one. But, as the post said, stay awy from “youthful cars”.

I have also rented lots (probably 100s) of cars (as an adult) and most of them are just fine. The vast majority of renters are just trying to get from point A to B. I’m sure their maintenance is “adequate” to keep their customers from getting stuck. Personally, I wouldn’t be interested in buying any of the make/models that are rented by these major copanies, but they are probably as good as any other used “fleet” type car.

My car bought from Enterprise has given me no problems in the year I’ve had it. I liked the way there wasn’t a lot of the haggling and game-playing that goes on at many dealerships. I say, if you find a car you like, go for it.

One benefit of buying directly from the rental agency is that they’d want to keep you happy. Word of mouth is important, and if a car you bought from them was poor, then you and your friends, family, and coworkers likely won’t rent from them either. On the other hand, if you have good experiences from the car and service from Enterprise, you, your friends, etc., will be more likely to rent from Enterprise in the future. So it makes good business sense for Enterprise to treat you well, and treat the cars you buy well.

Also, where else can you get a nearly new car for half the price of new?

Personally, I wouldn’t. Although I typically drive conservatively with my own cars, because I want to make them last a long time, I don’t care about a rental as long as it doesn’t break down while I’m driving it. I’ll hit the gas harder (unless it’s a long trip and I care about fuel mileage), brake harder, hit the bumps harder, etc. Most people I know don’t care about the rentals they drive.

Remember: nothing goes faster, stops faster, turns tighter, shifts from 4th to reverse faster, or can be driven further into the woods than a rental car! And when that “defective” car breaks down, it’s not your problem! P = pass and R = race.

Most rental car companies handle all mechanical and body repairs in their own contracted shops. The “minor” accidenta are not reported to their insurance company and therefore do not show up on a CarFax report. My son purchased a rental vehicle and no matter what he did the tires wore out in an uneven pattern. After two sets of tires and numerous alignments, a front end specialist showed him where the car had been in an accident that bent the frame! If you do find one you want, check it out first.