Should I buy a car from a rental company?

Should I buy a car from a rental company?

Rental cars get a bad rap.

Labeled as generic workhorses that get used and abused by a revolving door of drivers, rentals are perfectly fine for a few days on a business trip or family vacation, but you wouldn’t necessarily want to own one.

Or would you?

All of the major rental car companies now sell directly to consumers, complete with searchable online inventories and brick-and-mortar dealerships.

It’s an affordable, low-pressure option. And if you can look beyond the stereotype, you’ll see there are plenty of reasons to consider buying from a rental car company, and only a few to proceed with caution.

Green light: seven reasons to buy a used car from a rental company

1. They only sell the cream of the crop: Enterprise, Hertz, Avis and most of the major rental car companies buy thousands of new vehicles every year to refresh their fleets, and they keep the top 1 to 5 percent of their rentals to sell at their dealerships around the country. The rest are sold at auction and eventually make their way onto a used car lot. (You may have even bought one; rentals are usually listed as “program” cars in the vehicle history report.)

2. The vehicles will be well maintained. Rental agencies adhere to a strict maintenance schedule, and many have their own mechanics on-site. So, while these 1- or 2-year-old cars may have higher mileage than most their age, they will be meticulously maintained and any repairs will be documented. (Enterprise includes the Carfax for each vehicle on its website.) As a salesman at Enterprise recently explained: “We’re a billion-dollar company, so we can afford to baby our cars” more than a private owner can.

3. They don’t just sell rentals: Many rental agencies also provide company cars for large corporations. These vehicles are typically driven by one owner and have lower mileage. A closer look at the Carfax should confirm if it was a company car. These aren’t as plentiful as higher-mileage rentals, but if you take the time to look, you might find a real bargain.

4. Cars from rental companies are very affordable: Rental agencies buy new vehicles in volume every year at a significant discount. And they need to sell cars quickly to make room for the new ones in their fleet. So, they typically sell their vehicles for less than Kelley Blue Book values. But as with any dealership, always comparison shop prices before you buy.

5. Rental vehicles have some of the latest technology and safety features: Because they’re purchased new, and only spend a year or two in the fleet, rental cars usually include more of[…]


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