Should You Consider Buying a Rental Car?

Pros and Cons Explained in Less Than 5 Minutes

Smiling young woman drives a car with window down
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For anyone in the market for a used car, buying a rental car could be an option worth exploring. Car rental companies frequently sell off some of their vehicles to make room on their lots for newer car models.

Find out the pros and cons of purchasing a rental car, how the process works, and some tips for buying the right rental car for you.

How Does Buying a Rental Car Work?

Buying a rental car is similar to the process of buying a used car from a dealer. Rental car companies advertise the vehicles they have for sale online. You can also visit a location near you and inquire.

Once you find a car that you’re interested in, you can check it out, take it for a test drive, and learn more about the vehicle history and warranty policies to help you decide if it’s right for you.

Pros and Cons of Buying a Rental Car

Pros
  • Cars are typically well maintained

  • No price haggling

  • Price can be less than market value

Cons
  • May have higher mileage

  • Usually doesn’t come with extra features

  • More wear and tear

Pros Explained

  • Cars are typically well maintained: Car rental companies follow a strict maintenance schedule, and their cars are thoroughly inspected by certified technicians. It is illegal for rental car companies to sell defective, unsafe recalled cars unless they have been repaired, so you can feel confident that you aren’t getting a car with ignored recalls.
  • No price haggling: Unlike buying a used car from a dealer, rental car companies generally set the price and there is no negotiating. For buyers who don’t have the temperament for a lot of back-and-forth, this can be an advantage.
  • Price can be less than market value: Rental car companies sell off their used vehicles mainly to make room for newer models–they’re not looking to make huge profits. For example, Enterprise cites that 75% of its vehicles for sale are priced below Kelley Blue Book Typical Listing Price.

Cons Explained

  • May have higher mileage: While U.S. drivers on average drive around 14,000 miles per year, rental cars usually rack up a lot more. Browse through some of the major rental companies’ sales sites and you’ll notice mileages of 50,000, 60,000, or even higher.
  • Usually doesn’t come with extra features: Although some rental car companies may keep a few fully loaded, higher-model vehicles in their fleets, the majority will be less expensive base or mid-range models.
  • More wear and tear: Typical used cars have only had one owner, while rental cars may have been driven by many people with different driving styles. A person renting a vehicle may be less likely to treat it as well as they would treat a car they owned.

Where To Buy Rental Cars

Most major rental car companies showcase their rentals for sale on their websites, and you can filter these sites to search by location. If you find a vehicle that interests you, call to schedule an appointment to check out the car in person.

Tips for Buying a Rental Car

If you’re considering a rental car purchase, you want to avoid making any car-buying blunders like buying the wrong vehicle for you or failing to factor in all the costs. Keep these strategies in mind.

Do Your Research

As you’re browsing rental cars for sale, take the time to compare prices and look up values on Kelley Blue Book or other car value resources to make sure you’re getting a good deal.

Take Your Time Deciding

You may have the opportunity to rent a car and ride around for a couple of days before you make your final decision. Whereas, with a new or used car purchase, you may only get a short test drive. For example, Hertz’s Rent2Buy program lets customers rent a car for a three-day extended test drive at a low rate.

Get the Scoop on Warranties

Car rental purchases usually come with a warranty, but be sure to go over all the details. For instance, Enterprise offers a 12-month, 12,000-mile limited powertrain warranty, as well as 12 months of roadside assistance. Buyers also have seven days to return the car for any reason for the full price, minus a $200 restocking fee.

Learn what the rental car company you’re dealing with offers and find out what exactly is covered.

The buyer’s guide that is displayed on the car’s window is required by law. It will reveal if there is a warranty and provide a breakdown of what is covered.

Figure Out Your Financing

Most rental car companies offer their own financing options for buyers, but you can certainly shop around for your own auto loan to find the best rates.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Do factory warranties still apply when buying a rental car?

Factory warranties go by mileage—so depending on the vehicle, it might no longer be under factory warranty. However, most major rental car companies provide their own limited warranties and other benefits.

How much of a discount can I get when buying a rental car?

Discounts vary depending on the rental car, economic conditions, and other factors, but you can often find lower prices on a rental car than on a car at a used car dealer. Rental company Avis, for example, claims that its buyers save an average of $2,500 on most cars compared to Kelley Blue Book values.

Do I need a car inspection when I’m buying a rental?

Car rental companies do inspect their vehicles before selling them. However, it’s always wise to have an independent mechanic whom you trust to inspect the car for soundness and safety, as well. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recommends test driving the vehicle under different road conditions, such as on hills, on highways, and in stop-and-go traffic.