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jca's avatar

Would you buy a used car from a car rental provider (one of the big ones)?

Asked by jca (35989points) March 6th, 2015

I am in the market for a car, and was going to look at new cars only. Some people are suggesting that I can get a better car that’s used for the price of a lesser car that’s new. The guy at the car rental place (one of the big national chains) told me they have used cars that they sell, they have low mileage on them (30k for example) and that 85% of the used cars that dealers sell are from the rental car chains.

Would you consider going this route?

I am open to new or used cars at this point but am looking for advice and opinions.

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13 Answers

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Yes, at least from Hertz. They wholesale the rough ones and keep the better ones to sell themselves. Most will have under 30,000 miles and are well maintained.

I know, I use to work for them moving vehicles between rental agencies and airports. We also would take them to large wholesale lots when the vehicle hit a mileage limit.

zenvelo's avatar

I would consider it if they had a make and model I liked. Most car rental places don;t stock teh kind of cars I like.

And then I would want a pretty solid warranty. Rental cars can be pretty abused.

janbb's avatar

My son bought an Altima 5 years ago from enterprise. It has been great !

SQUEEKY2's avatar

I would consider it, as long as they provided a detailed record of it’s maintenance.

Coloma's avatar

Yes, my friend bought her SUV from Hertz a few years ago, forget the exact make and model and it has been very reliable.

geeky_mama's avatar

Absolutely not.

I travel for work (75% of the time) and so does my husband (close to 50% of the time).

Between the 2 of us we’ve driven every brand of rental car agencies out there (at least in the US…me in Italy and Germany & the Netherlands, too). I’m Hertz Gold Elite and AVIS something-or-other (I forget—but my points there are such that I could have use of a free rental car for a month at this point.)

Not one of those cars were in good shape. NONE.
They go far too long without needed maintenance (i.e. oil changes). As soon as they get turned in they run them through a quick crappy wash (always leaving water splotches) and rent ‘em out again within the hour. Can’t count the number of times I got in a car when it was still wet from the car wash and smelled of it’s previous occupant.

Despite no-smoking policies they often REEK of cigarette smoke, and as they tend to be “fleet car” models they are without any of the most basic features you’d see on a used car or new car lot model. (I’ve literally had cars that you had to get out and manually adjust all side mirrors, didn’t have anything but and FM/AM stereo and one that had crank down windows and no key-less entry. In 2014.And it was new – less than 5K miles. I was shocked.)

These cars are driven hard and carelessly by the renters. I’d say 9 out of 10 of the cars I get have small dents, dings and paint scratches. When you look at a hotel parking lot you’ll see why…look for the “barcode” that the rental company scans (or really exceptional out-of-state licenses—like the Florida plates I had on my Boston rental this week) and see how they’re parked. People don’t care if the car gets door dinged so they park RIGHT next to another car or squeeze into tight spots “because it’s just a rental”.

Both hubby and I have had rental cars that had less than 30K miles break down on the road.
The tires are uniformly the cheapest and poorest (and baldest).

AND, now most all of the “big” rental agencies are keeping cars in their fleets until 50K miles or more. I’ve had a lot of high mileage cars lately. They are driven long & hard and not maintained properly. They nearly always lack car mats – so you’ll never get the floor clean (I tracked messy snow/salt/dirt into the car each time I climbed in this week no car mats to sop it up—it was already stained a deep nasty black/gray anyhow.)

After years of traveling for work I would NEVER NEVER NEVER buy a car from a car rental place. (I feel very strongly about this..)

geeky_mama's avatar

Oh, and @Tropical_Willie – I rent most from Hertz so I would be most adverse to buying from them. I’ve had Hertz cars with brakes worn to the screaming rotors (pulling hard to one direction or another), one where the low oil light came on (and it had only 10K miles on it) – and I was informed at the end of 2013 their new policy is to keep the cars as long as possible – and even up to and beyond 50K miles.

I have Gold whenever I climb in my assigned car and find it’s high miles, I just walk back to the Gold Choice section and pick another one with the lowest miles I can find.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

@geeky_mama I’ve been Hertz Gold for almost 30 years. The resell vehicles I’ve seen from Hertz were cream-puffs. They resell only a small percentage of their cars, like 5%.
Yes, cars get beat on by renters.

Zaku's avatar

I have always bought used cars. Full price generally seems too high, to me. I don’t think buying from a rental company sounds like the best idea. I try to find relatively low-sleaze used car salespeople and then have a thorough buyer’s inspection by a trusted mechanic, and negotiate to reduce the price by the cost of whatever needs fixing.

janbb's avatar

I’ve had really good luck buying a slightly used car from a dealer. Often one that was used as a loaner car or a recent year trade-in. Someone else takes the depreciation hit and I get more car than I could afford otherwise.

jerv's avatar

Rental places have a vested interest in keeping their cars in shape, so odds are that any car they sell has had all it’s maintenance done and has no major issues. You’ll want the paperwork just to make sure, but it’s true more often than it is for other used cars. Rental places vary a bit, so it’s not always true, but in general their cars are still usually in better mechanical condition than your average used car lot.

@geeky_mama If you think 50k is “worn out” then you are still living in the 1970s when cars often were worn out at that point. But thanks to technology, that is far from the case these days, especially not if we’re talking any car made in the last 10 years. Of course, your complaint about car mats makes it sound like you don’t like driving anything over 2 years old in the first place.

rojo's avatar

Many years ago my parents did and they used it for many years after the purchase. I recall my father talking about how “they” (being the rental agency) had a vested interest in making sure the car was is top mechanical condition during its use as a rental vehicle to optimize their profits so he figured it had to be well maintained. They were very pleased with their purchase, a Mercury Marquis I believe, and it let them to purchase the same model several times thereafter.

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