Should I Buy a Used Rental Car?

Jul 11, 2016

Conventional thinking would suggest that purchasing a car that has been driven by hundreds of different people with different driving quirks would be a bad idea. But, if you do your research, understand the true condition of the vehicle, and get a great price the transaction may work in your favor.

When you’re buying a used car it’s important to remain skeptical and curious. Do your best to not be in a rush and do your research and thorough vetting. When buying a vehicle with rental history, one should be aware of the following.

What to Consider About Used Rental Cars:
  • Rental car companies have to keep their vehicles well-maintained for rental purposes, which means the vehicle has been serviced frequently
  • Being that the vehicle is rented to hundreds of different people, one driver may slam on the brakes or go easy on the gas and another might not, this can cause early wear and tear
  • Because rental car companies purchase their vehicles at a discount under a fleet agreement, they can be built to a “lesser” standard than regular cars (i.e. different configurations than what is available to the public)
  • The vehicles are usally purchased at specially discounted “fleet” prices directly from manufacturers and so their resale prices can be lower
  • Most rental vehicles are sold after one to two years in operation, so it’s possible that if the mileage is low they can still be under manufacturer warranty
  • Prior accidents may not be disclosed - because some rental companies have their own insurance, not all accidents will have a claim on record, because rental companies have their own insurance
  • Keep in mind that when you resell the vehicle, it will always garner a lower price than the same make/model that wasn’t a fleet vehicle, because it’s a rental

Tips To Buying a Car with Rental History:
  • Get a pre-purchase inspection from a certified mechanic - they’re the only ones that can tell you the vehicle’s true condition
  • Know the fair market value - do your research and find a comparable model from a private seller and a dealer, check pricing websites to compare and keep in mind the vehicle will be worth less, because it was a rental
  • Try to find a vehicle with the lowest mileage possible
  • Preferable if the vehicle was for rent within the same state you’re purchasing it in. Vehicles from out-of-state may consist of more unknowns - such as exposure to a different climate, and the potential wear and rust that is associated.

Buying a used rental car can be an inexpensive option and as long as the vehicle is inspected it can prove to be a good choice for used car shoppers.