To Buy a Rental?


I searched the best I could through existing discussions, but couldn’t find any on this topic, so I’ll just post the question:

Is it a good idea to buy a car that was previously a rental? I found a dealer that is selling about a dozen 2004 Civics at reasonable prices, all of which have about the same mileage. So I ran a carfax check, and found that all had been previously owned at a ‘major rental company.’ Right now I’m comfortable with a car that was previously a rental, here’s why:


--Car was always maintained, cleaned

--Car has seen mostly highway miles, most likely driven on the highway for business trips

--Car wasn’t driven too hard, b/c who would want to show their boss the bill for a wrecked civic after a business trip?

Then again, maybe I’m thinking about this wrong, and should view the glass as half empty:


--Car didn’t have the proper break-in period after it was first purchased (I believe Tom & Ray have discussed this), so it may burn oil

--Car had many drivers with many driving styles(lead feet people to frequent stop-and-go people)

I’m going to drive the car this weekend, does anyone have any tips on the best way to check the car out, or if there are any telltale problem indicators to look for? I appreciate the advice.


How many miles? Where was it rented? I rent a car when we go to Disney every year and the car only gets about 50 miles in the week we use it . . . 10 miles to and from WDW and dinner in the evening, not a bad life for a car. The last rental we had was a sonata, a 2005, with only about 10k on the clock. I’d buy this kind of car at a good price. But I’ve also been with folks who rent cars to go tailgating at football games, who have filled the trunk with ice and beer and then open the drain plug to allow the water to drain out afterwards. You have to determine how the car was driven for the majority of its life. People are funny about things that they don’t own.


It was owned in DC, it has 45k miles on it, so right at the average 15k miles per year. And most people wouldn’t rent a car to drive to/from work in city traffic (maybe on occasion, but that wouldn’t rack up 45k miles in three years, those had to be on a highway somehwere) Being a 4 door civic, I don’t think any self-respecting football fan would use it to go tailgating. I’m guessing, being a DC car, it was used for business meetings & corporate trips. The Carfax registration report only states a ‘major rental company’ so I don’t know that I could find out much more.


I think buying a rental is better then buying a leased one. At least the rental was probably maintained (like oil changes and such). A lease…you never now.


I bought a 1988 Ford Taurus in 1988 that had come from a rental fleet. The Taurus had 8,000 miles when we bought it. It was a very good purchase. I had the rest of the warranty and saved a year’s depreciation.

When I have rented cars, the rental companhy has an inspector that goes through the car. I treat a rental car as if it were my own, but I am certain that the inspection process at the end deters many renters from abusing the car.


I too have bought a car that started its life as a rental. the car was built in January of 2001 and I bought it in November of 2001. It had 12,000 miles on it. It has been a great car and I still have it now with 96,000 miles on it. Plus I bought the car at auction so I got it for $10,000 less than what they were selling for at the dealerships…


I helped a friend returning from overseas in 1999 buy a car, a 1997 Ford Taurus. The car was a dealer lease car with only 10,000 miles on it, and in very good condition. He paid about 50% of the new selling price, and still has the car today. No unusual problems. If you buy a lease return, you have to know the car’s history, and preferably know the previous driver. In my case, I knew both.


Some rentals are driven pretty hard, since people tend to care more for their own car than other peoples cars.

I think an ex rental could still be a good car to get, but I have had rental cars myself that I would never even consider buying. Not all rental stations seems to have the same routines on maintenance. Ive experienced to get rentals with the check oil light on, way overdue its scheduled oil change. I also had a rental with worn out wheel bearings. So I think its a myth that all rentals get good maintenance and are not driven hard.

They also tend to have high mileage.

But if you could get one for a good price, and you check it well, it could probably be a bargain.

But if I had two otherwise similar vehicles where one was a rental and the other was not, I would only choose the rental if it was significantly cheaper.


This could be an opportunity for a good buy on a car or it could be a purchase of a car with undetected problems.

Just as an example–the post-rental inspection doesn’t detect how many times the front wheels (or the back ones for that matter) were driven into a curb. And, of course, many of the drivers of rental cars are people who drive very seldom and as a result, are poor drivers (hence, the reference to jamming wheels into the curb).

The post-rental inspection will not detect the person who thinks that it is funny to rev the engine while in neutral and then slam the transmission into gear. In case you think that this scenario is unlikely, I have known people (jerks with whom I no longer associate) who played tricks like this with rental cars simply because they did not own them.

This is really a case of the unknown. An inspection by a trusted mechanic will reveal some problems, but not necessarily all of them.

It all comes down to your tolerance for risk, balanced against your desire for a low priced car. However, it looks to me like you have already convinced yourself to buy one of these cars, so feel free to ignore my comments if that is the case.


Buy rentals fresh with 17000 to 20000 miles on them. Don’t buy them at 45000.