Pros and Cons of Buying a Used Rental Car

Written By Scott Kessman
Last updated August 11, 2021

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August 11, 2021

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When searching for a used car, there’s a lot to think about. Some of the first things you might look at when making a decision are the mileage and the features of a particular car. But there are other important factors to focus on too. The safety ratings are important, as are the car histories, which detail any accidents or problems with a car. The car history will also reveal if the used car was a former rental car. At first, you might think twice about buying a used rental car.

You probably think they have been driven a lot and not taken care of very well. That’s only partially true. In fact, there are quite a few advantages to buying a used rental car. There are some cons too. Consider the following before making a decision.

Used car lots likely have lots of rental cars for sale, but you might not know it until you see the car history reports. Don’t shy away from a particular car just because you learned it’s a former rental.

Rental Cars Are Usually Newer Models

Rental car companies don’t often keep older cars in their fleet. They typically sell cars to dealerships after just a few years. As a result, most used rental cars will be newer models than many of the other cars you might find on a used car lot. In many cases, you can find a used rental car that is only about two years old. This means you can find a car with the latest technology and features, often at a competitive price.

Used Rental Cars are Normally Priced Lower

Rental car companies don’t buy cars individually. They typically purchase a small fleet of new vehicles all at once. When they do this, they receive a volume discount. So, when they are ready to sell the cars to a dealership, they also sell them at a low price. That means the dealership can also offer a relatively new car at a lower price.

You can also sometimes purchase a used rental car directly from the rental car company. Many of the major rental car companies have a section on their websites where you can browse through the available cars for sale. Buying a used rental car directly from the company might save you even more money.

No Negotiations

When you buy a used rental car directly from the rental company, you don’t need to worry about negotiating the price. The company isn’t really interested in making a large profit off the cars. Rather, they are simply trying to liquidate their older fleet. The prices will already be very low compared to dealership prices. You might even be able to receive financing options from the rental car company.

You’ll also be able to review the maintenance history, just like at a dealership. This allows you to make an informed decision.

Used Rental Cars are Often in Good Condition

Rental cars are stigmatized because it is believed that the drivers don’t take care of them since they don’t own them. In actuality, rental cars are some of the best-maintained cars. Rental car companies wouldn’t have much luck renting cars that are dirty and in bad shape. They strive to keep their fleet of cars in great condition, performing cleaning and maintenance frequently to service the vehicles.

Of course, there are a few cons that you’ll also want to think about before purchasing a rental car.

Higher Mileage

Understandably, a rental car will typically have higher mileage than a privately owned vehicle. But you should know that many rental car companies sell their cars after they reach anywhere from 25,000 to 40,000 miles. While that may be a lot for a car that is only 2 years old, it is still well below the 100,000-mile mark. That means many warranty options will still be available, including, in some cases, the factory warranty. Also, if you are only planning on driving the car locally most of the time, the higher mileage probably won’t matter much.

Warranty Options from the Rental Car Company

When you buy directly from the rental car company, you may be offered the factory-included warranty if applicable. If it isn’t, you can still get a limited warranty from many of the larger companies.

More Wear and Tear

Despite the fact that the rental car companies take good care of their vehicles, the cars could still have suffered a bit. That’s because several different drivers mean several different driving styles. Some drivers will be rougher on the car than others, and some cosmetic damage isn’t always so easy to fix. Additionally, some parts may need repair or replacement sooner than normal. You can probably reduce some of this risk by seeking rental cars with the lowest mileage.

Check the Interior

At first glance, the car may appear to be in great shape. Rental car companies and dealerships will, of course, clean the cars thoroughly before presenting them for sale. After a closer inspection, you may notice some wear or damage on the interior. Be sure to inspect all areas of the car thoroughly so there are no surprises after taking it home.

Used Rental Cars Have a Lower Resale Value

While you can certainly save money when buying a used rental car, you also won’t make much if you try to sell it or trade it in later. It might also be harder to sell in general since many buyers don’t want to buy a former rental. Of course, if you are planning on keeping the car for the remainder of its life, this isn’t an issue.

Before buying a used rental car, be sure to review the car history. Doing so will provide you with important information and a complete detailed report of any accidents or major repairs affecting the car. If you are allowed to have the car for a period of time before making a final decision, you could also try taking it to a mechanic. Allow the mechanic to give it a cursory inspection to see if the car appears in good condition.

If all is well, you can seize the opportunity of getting a newer car at a very good price. Just remember to also weigh the pros and cons of the mileage and the resale value and how they might affect you.

About the Author

Scott Kessman

I possess a strong 20-year background in marketing, digital marketing, and advertising. However, writing has always been a true passion of mine, and after working in corporate offices for many years, I turned my passion for writing into a full-time job. As a contract content writer for the last 12 years, I can craft engaging and informative content about a wide variety of subjects. I have also written and published two fantasy novels and a collection of short stories.

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