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Is Buying a Used Rental Car a Bad Idea?

Some individuals may not know that many rental companies commonly sell their rental cars to buyers and dealerships. In fact, several rental companies have vehicle sales divisions. Though the vehicles are technically used cars, there are still a few differences that you should consider as a buyer. First, determine what the pros and cons of buying a used rental car may be.


The length of time that rental car companies are maintaining their vehicles has increased, but on average the cars that are put up for sale are usually still between one year to 18-months old. With the constant use and wear, the depreciation increases and allows for the next owner to receive a nice, newer car for a lot less than what it is usually sold for. Though the cars are driven constantly, they typically maintain low mileage, generally no more than 40,000 miles. In the case where a car gains mileage quicker than usual, it may be sold off early, which could mean that the used car is still under its original manufacturer’s warranty, and can usually transfer from owner-to-owner.


During the life of a rental car, there may be one owner – the rental company, who does take good care of the vehicle; however, it also has several users that may not treat it as well. Many people drive rental cars more reckless than they do their own automobiles and may not maintain the interior well either. Even though it may be in a shorter time frame, this could potentially lead to more wear on the car than normal. Also, with rental companies providing their own insurance, some accidents may go unreported. Therefore, accident reports from national sources could lack some information on the vehicle.


It is important that you do your homework. With any used car, there are a few key things that you should look for:

  • Carfax: Even if all accidents are not reported, it is important to review the vehicle’s history. Carfax also stores all vehicle maintenance records giving you the ability to ensure the vehicle has received proper maintenance during its time with the rental agency.
  • Get the car inspected by a technician you trust. Do not rely on the dealer/owner to pick the mechanic.
  • Take the car for a test drive.
  • Obtain and maintain your paperwork and make sure that you understand the purchase contract including warranties and any other applicable documents.

By shopping around and negotiating a reasonable deal, you can purchase a quality car that you may enjoy for many years to come. Make sure that you keep your new ride in the best shape possible by getting regular oil changes and maintenance.