How to Buy a Used Rental Car

December 27, 2012

buying a used rental carWith the rise in new car prices, the used car market has become more competitive in recent years. Prices are up and cars are hard to find. But there is a source of used cars – a pretty big one – that most people are completely unaware of. Rental car companies hold onto their cars for just a year or two, and then they need to replace the older models. The old ones are sold off to make room for new cars, generally to ordinary people like you and me.

Why Buy a Used Rental Car

How can you buy a used rental car, and why would you want to in the first place?

1. Better prices than car dealers.

Used rental car prices are generally lower than what you would find with used car dealers. Car rental companies don’t give their cars away, but there are several reasons why they are, and can be, less expensive than car dealerships.

Car rental companies are not in the business of car sales. They’re trying to get rid of large numbers of older vehicles, and the quickest way to do that by selling at reasonable prices. There are also no middlemen, no advertising budgets and no profit margins to be protected.

Another price advantage is that car rental companies sell their cars with fixed prices. Much like Carmax, the price is what it is, and there is no haggling. Car rental companies will charge a price at which the cars are likely to sell. They don’t need to inflate the price in order to allow for negotiation. And not only does that make for a less expensive car purchase, but it also eliminates the stress that comes with negotiations.

2. Better maintained cars.

One of the biggest advantages to buying a car from a car rental company is that you know who the owner is. When you buy a car from either a used car dealer or even an individual, you don’t know anything about the previous owners.

What you do know about car rental companies is that they are in the business of providing reliable cars to their customers. That means the maintenance level on the car is very high and the vehicle is in good working order. You also have the benefit of knowing that the car had a single owner. With other used car sources, you can never be completely sure.

3. Extended warranties.

Car rental companies will often include a short-term warranty, such as 60 days or 2,000 miles. You can also purchase an extended warranty for longer periods of time. While extended warranties are also available at used car dealerships, you will not have them available if you buy directly from an individual.

Some car rental companies also offer a roadside assistance package for either a certain number of months or a certain number of miles. You may get this for free, or there may be a small charge for it.

4. Advantageous financing.

In order to facilitate the selling of their car fleets, car rental companies generally offer financing if you buy one of their cars. The rates are competitive, and sometimes they offer specials that will be hard to pass up. Since the financing is established precisely for the sale of the car rental companies vehicles, you’ll probably have more flexible terms than you will have if you go to a bank or other type of car financing company.

Buying a Used Rental Car

If you want to buy a used rental car start by going to the company’s website (it‘s generally a separate function from their rental operations). Most of them have a webpage set up specifically for car rental sales.

We’ll use Hertz as an example. They have a dedicated website specifically for car sales. The site itself is similar to those of car dealers. The most prominent feature on the site is the “Find Used Cars For Sale” box. It allows you to enter the make and model of the car that you want, then checks availability within 100 miles of your location. From there you can start the process.

The site also provides information on financing, warranties and other benefits.

One of the more interesting features offered by Hertz, is the Rent2Buy option. Once you select a car, you can test drive the car for three days before deciding if you want to complete the purchase.

It’s unlikely that you will find any major mechanical flaws driving a vehicle for three days, but it will give you a real opportunity to see if the car is really good fit for you. Sometimes a car can look good on the outside and according to all of the literature and descriptions, but there’s something about it that just doesn’t quite feel right. With the Rent2Buy program, you’ll have an opportunity to find out before finalizing the purchase.

If you’re looking to buy a used car, shop around at car dealerships and also look at some cars offered for sale by individuals. But add car rental companies as a third source. That will give you more options and probably better deals on used cars.

Have you ever purchased a used car from a car rental company?


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Kevin Mercadante is professional personal finance blogger, and the owner of his own personal finance blog, He has backgrounds in both accounting and the mortgage industry. He lives in Atlanta with his wife and two teenage kids and can be followed on Twitter at @OutOfYourRut.

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2 Responses to How to Buy a Used Rental Car

  • Kevin Mercadante

    If you’ve gone three years without a major repair, that’s pretty close to having a brand new car.

  • Rental Cars in Brisbane

    Budget constraints forced me to purchase a used car instead of a brand new one. My only concern then was the mechanical condition of the car, whether it will leave me with a huge repair bill everytime. So far, it has been going on three years and I haven’t had any serios repair issue with my car.