Is it a Bad Idea to buy a car that was a Rental?

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Many people will advise you against buying a rental car, you’ll be bombarded with “are you crazy?!”, “rentals are driven recklessly!”, “second-hand rental cars are trouble”, but are they?

If you are looking to invest in a second-hand car, going to a car rental lot sale is a great option! It is fair to have reservations regarding rental cars, unlike single user cars rental cars have had many drivers and may have gone through multiple accidents. However, everything has its pros and cons.

Advantages of a second-hand rental car

  • Easy on the wallet: Car rental companies purchase vehicles in volume, which allows them to acquire the cars for a discounted price. This usually means that their resale prices are lower than car dealerships and single car owners. This makes former rental cars a great deal for someone looking to buy a second-hand vehicle.
  • Test drive and return policy: Big-wig rental companies like Hertz and Avis allow 2-hour test drives or 3-day test drives on a “rent-to-buy” basis for a discounted rate. The rental company will refund the fee if you buy the vehicle. In case you have second thoughts on your purchase they offer a seven-day return policy.
  • New vehicles for less: Rental companies usually replace their existing fleet with new vehicles every 1 – 2 years. This means that the car you purchase would be a relatively new vehicle! You can get the latest model with new features and technology for an insanely low price than if you get it from a franchise dealerships’ used car lot!
  • Top-notch maintenance: When buying a second-hand car a major concern would be is how the previous owner maintained it, and usually, it’s not well. The best part about car rental companies is that they stick to a very strict maintenance schedule for their vehicles. These schedules are usually run via specially programmed software; therefore maintenance days are not missed. They follow a thorough maintenance procedure therefore any major underlying problems may not be there.

Disadvantages of a second-hand rental car

  • Wear and tear: The history of a rental car is uncertain as it is difficult to determine how badly the car may have been driven. This may not always be the case as some people may have taken care of the rental, but the possibility of aggressive driving is high as the car isn’t their own. This means rental cars are more susceptible to wear and tear than single-user cars.
  • Fewer options: Rental companies usually purchase base models with the most basic features though they are newer models. So, don’t have high expectations for the best features like luxury fittings, state-of-the-art tech, and advanced safety equipment.
  • Higher mileage: Since rentals have had multiple drivers for different purposes the mileage of former rental cars will be very high. Usually, double or triple the average mileage of U.S. cars which is 14,000 miles. Due to this the resale value will be very low but is a great option if you aren’t expecting any money from it down the line.
  • Factory warranty: Due to the high mileage these cars will have exceeded the factory warranty which means any repairs will have to be covered from your pocket.

Key things to consider before buying a rental car

  • Always test drive the car, look for any funny noises and dents on the body or other damages to the interior.
  • Even if you did not come across any problems with the car opt for a pre-purchase inspection just to be sure before you make the final decision to purchase.
  • If you are from the U.S. you can ask for a Vehicle History Report or better yet purchase a report for yourself. If you aren’t from the U.S. see if there is an equivalent to this in your own country.

In conclusion…

If you are shopping for a second-hand car opt for a former rental car as they are quite reliable and are good value for money. Despite having a higher mileage and, more wear and tear than single-user cars, second-hand rental cars are maintained well and they come with a return policy.


At RENTALL we’re on a mission to be the SaaS solution of choice for rental operators looking for growth and stability in a disruptive sector.

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