With new car prices shooting through the roof, consumers would do well to examine their used vehicle options. One of the more popular choices is rental car vehicles owned by Hertz, Avis, Enterprise, and others. A rental car is typically well-equipped and offers a decent value proposition compared to the market writ large. But there are advantages and disadvantages of purchasing rental cars as we’ll examine herein.
Advantages of purchasing a rental car:
Lower cost: Rental cars are often priced lower than similar models bought brand new, as the rental company is looking to sell the vehicle quickly to recoup some of its costs.
Newer models: Rental car companies often rotate their fleets regularly, which means that you have access to newer models with the latest features.
Well-maintained vehicles: Rental cars are usually well-maintained and kept in good condition. Companies keep detailed records of the maintenance performed.
Transferable warranty: In some cases, the manufacturer’s warranty on the vehicle may still be valid, providing added protection for your purchase. If not, purchasing an extended warranty may prove beneficial.
Fewer haggling and negotiation issues: The price of a rental car is usually fixed, meaning there is less haggling and negotiation involved in the purchasing process.
Disadvantages of purchasing a rental car:
Higher mileage: Rental cars often have higher mileage than privately owned vehicles, which can affect their value and reliability. Notably, during the COVID years, companies held onto their fleets longer as new car availability proved challenging.
Increased wear and tear: Due to their heavy usage, rental cars may have more wear and tear than privately owned vehicles. However, this shouldn’t be a problem if the vehicle’s maintenance schedule was followed.
Lack of vehicle history: The history of a rental car can be difficult to track, making it more challenging to know its true condition. However, this is only true if you’re purchasing a rental car that had several owners following its release by the company. Again, detailed records accompany rental cars, therefore there shouldn’t be much of a mystery regarding its history.
Previous drivers: It can be difficult to determine how the car was driven by previous renters, and if they were involved in any accidents or violations. This is where obtaining a vehicle history report such as from CARFAX makes sense. Of course, you won’t know a thing about the many drivers, but if there was an accident, then most likely it will be listed. Along with the repairs made.
Resale value: Rental cars have a lower resale value than privately owned vehicles, as buyers are often cautious about purchasing a car that has been rented by many people. Although a concern for consumers, this isn’t necessarily a mitigating factor. Instead, the body’s condition, interior, trim level, and mileage are the most important factors to consider.
You can find rental cars on company sites, including Budget, Avis, Hertz, and Enterprise. We recommend visiting each site, examining the inventory, and contacting the company for more information. Typically, you’ll narrow your search to a particular geographical area as well as find a specific make, model, and trim level.
Keep in mind that most companies do not negotiate the price of their for-sale rental cars. Thus, we recommend comparing the asking price with an independent price assessment tool such as Kelley Blue Book, Edmunds and Autotrader.com. Often, the price set by the rental car company will be within the range of the car price accessors, with taxes, tags, and sales tax not included.
Finally, if you’re still not sure about the condition of a rental car, find out whether the company will allow an independent mechanic of your own choosing to examine the vehicle. By doing so, you can peace of mind and know what repairs are likely in your near future.
The Perks of Buying a Used Car Instead of a New One