Tight supplies of certain new vehicles and sky-high prices on recent used cars and trucks have seen those in the market for a replacement automobile turn to a number of uncommon sources. Of these, the concept of buying a used rental car is one that more vehicles shoppers are starting to take seriously.
Buying a used rental car has traditionally brought with it a certain stigma. Used rental cars are often thought of as victims of abusive driving that are treated with the least amount of care by customers with a lack of interest in preventing the kind of cosmetic damage and mechanical wear that can lower an automobile’s reliability. Compounded with the popular notion that rental fleets are poorly maintained and regularly resupplied with fresh blood in order to replace disposable inventory, the entire idea of buying a used rental car is one that lives under a very black cloud.
Near record-setting prices on used vehicles – with some one- and two-year old automobiles showing only the slimmest of pricing differences compared to new models – have caused some previously-owned car buyers to look beyond the hype and try to find out if buying a used rental car is really as risky of a decision as pop culture has led them to believe. The actual facts surrounding used rental car quality might surprise you.
In terms of maintenance, quality standards vary from company to company, but the recent recession has squeezed even larger corporations such as Enterprise and Avis. This means that they too have gone out of their way to ensure that maintenance is up to date on their vehicles in order to get as many miles out of them as possible prior to replacement. You might actually be able to view maintenance records for the used rental car you are interested in should you be buying directly from the rental agency itself, which takes some of the guesswork out of an automobile’s condition.
Used rental car prices are also typically lower than those of traditional used cars due to the previously-mentioned aura of neglect that surrounds them. If you are able to have the car inspected by a qualified mechanic, as well as obtain a vehicle history report, then you can be reasonably certain that you are buying a good quality used car at an appreciable discount. With a growing number of car dealerships counting on sales of certified used vehicles to shore up the gaps created by short supply of new models, and with used rental cars ineligible for CPO certification, the pricing difference between a certified used model and a used rental car is often substantial.
There are, of course, some caveats to keep in mind when shopping for a used rental car. You should always verify that any required safety recalls have been performed on the vehicle you are interested in, as some rental car companies defer these types of repairs. Although a rental car company must inform you of any outstanding recalls at the time of sale, you can get some additional peace of mind by bringing the automobile’s VIN to a dealership for a recall history report. You should also keep in mind that some rental cars on the low end of the affordability scale are ordered as stripped down base models, which in some extreme cases has even meant that safety equipment has been deleted in order to save on the initial fleet purchase price. Double-check to make sure that the car you are looking at offers all of the “must-have” equipment on your shopping list.
Buying a used rental car might be a mental hurdle that is difficult to clear, but with used car prices climbing on a monthly basis, this option is one that bears looking into in order to get the best deal possible on a secondhand vehicle.