Used Rental Vehicle Buying Tips

Toyota Highlander rental vehicle

What to consider when looking at a used rental vehicle.

The days of finding a cheap used car are over. Tighter inventories, high prices for new cars and consumers keeping their own cars longer has made it difficult for people to find an affordable, used car.

Between the brand new and well used, there is a segment of cars that are one, two or three years old: rental vehicles. These cars are bought by companies such as Avis, Enterprise and Hertz, rented out to their customers and then sold to consumers after a few years. Such cars typically come well equipped, but they also may come with the undeserved stigma that says you are buying an unreliable vehicle.

Well, the stigma of unreliability is an incorrect one as the fleet owners or rental car companies provide top notch service for their cars. Moreover, when such vehicles are readied to be sold, you get a car that has been thoroughly inspected, properly maintained and often features a new set of all-season radial tires.

The Market

You certainly are not getting a new car when you buy a rental vehicle. Some models are from the most recent model year, but many go back a few years.

Rental vehicle mileage can vary with most vehicles having at least 25,000 to 30,000 miles on the odometer. Occasionally you will find a vehicle with up to 45,000 miles driven, while others may have as few as 10,000 miles on the odometer. Mileage depends largely on fleet popularity and the rental company’s needs. Sometimes the vehicle offered is a trade in from a customer sale.

Model Availability

If you have your heart set on buying a particular uncommon model, then the rental vehicle market may disappoint you. The rental companies typically offer the most popular models to consumers including the Fords, Chevys, Toyotas and Dodges that are also the best sellers.

That does not mean you cannot find the occasional Mercedes-Benz, Infiniti or even a Jaguar. It is just that rental companies are looking to put these cars in renter’s hands, not have them sitting on lots unrented.

Rental vehicles also typically feature top or near top trim level models only. No stripped down models here! It isn’t uncommon to get car with a navigation center and top safety features, popular amenities that are part of the price.

Test the Car

Fleet retailers want you to be happy with your purchase. Typically, you will be able to find the vehicle’s CARFAX report, with that information posted online. Read the report to familiarize yourself with the vehicle’s maintenance and repair history.

You should also be able to test drive your rental vehicle. Some companies will allow you to drive the car for a full day before making your decision. This can be beneficial for the consumer that wants a particular vehicle, but is not certain whether it is right for them. If given this opportunity, then get the keys, fill up the gas tank and head out on a journey of a few hundred miles. When done, you should know whether that vehicle is right for you or not.

Negotiation and Financing

There are two things about most rental vehicles that consumers should know about: haggling does not take place — many companies offer a “no haggle” or a “take it or leave it price.” Typically, that price comes in lower than its book value, with thinner profit margins for retailers.

Financing is another matter you should handle before buying a rental vehicle. Visit your credit union or bank to obtain a loan first. Then, head to your rental vehicle company to make a deal. Some companies will take your trade in too — keep this in mind as you shop for a vehicle.

Keep in mind that the new vehicle warranty may still apply to your car. If it off its manufacturer’s warranty, learn if the rental company has included one in-house, typically for at least 90 days and 4,000 miles — whichever comes first.

Rental Vehicle Considerations

There are a few things to keep in mind before buying a used rental vehicle. First, ensure that all safety recalls for that model have been performed. That information is readily available at SaferCar.gov. Second, have cosmetic repairs fixed before buying the car. Typically, these touch ups are handled at no cost to you. Lastly, only buy the vehicle that you want. That means understanding what equipment is included such as the premium audio system, backup camera or the lane departure warning system that you want.

References

Money Talk News: 6 Tips for Buying a Rental Car — http://www.moneytalksnews.com/2012/05/17/6-tips-for-buying-a-rental-car/

Autobytel: Tips for Buying a Used Rental Car — http://www.autobytel.com/car-buying-tips/used-car-buying-tips/tips-for-buying-a-used-rental-car-101736/

Author Information

Jenny Sampson is a professional blogger that enjoys providing consumers with personal finance advice. She writes for TitleMax.biz, a leading Title Loan company offering bad credit title loans.

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Comments

  1. Dixon, if consumers begin trading in their cars we will see record new vehicle sales and the prices of the used cars will fall. I cannot say that this will happen and the economic impact of this movement would also be profound as tax revenue would increase, consumers would pay fees for registering their cars, insurance companies would benefit and parts accessory businesses would flourish. New jobs would be created too.

  2. “…keeping their own cars longer has made it difficult for people to find an affordable, used car.” – This is true, it is becoming harder to find not just affordable cars but good quality used cars. Thanks a lot for sharing the tips and the information about the rental vehicles.

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