Buying A Used Rental Car

Buying A Used Rental Car

Written by Lisa Rennie
Fact-checked by Caitlin Wood
Last Updated December 7, 2021

Rental cars can come in really handy in many situations. Maybe you’re heading somewhere on vacation and need a ride to get around. Or perhaps you’re taking a road trip and need something that will better accommodate all the passengers and luggage that your own vehicle can’t. Whatever the case may be, rental cars are often a necessity. 

But did you know that rental cars can be made available for purchase after they’ve served their time with a rental company? Not only do you have the option to buy a used car from a traditional dealership or from a private seller, but you can also make this purchase involving vehicles that were once rentals.

While you may initially have reservations about buying a used rental car because of the notion that people who rent them don’t treat the vehicles very well, there’s also an argument to be made in favour of buying a used rental. Read on to find out what you need to know about buying a rental car before you take this path.

Why Are Rental Companies Selling Their Rental Cars?

First of all, why do rental companies sell their rental cars in the first place? Don’t they need their fleet of cars to keep business running?

The truth is, rental companies aren’t necessarily just trying to get cars that may be in bad shape off their roster when they sell. Instead, they’re just trying to make room in their lot for newer models, not necessarily because there’s anything wrong with the vehicles they currently have.

Think about it in the eyes of a person renting a vehicle: would you prefer to rent a car that’s near-new, or would you be satisfied with a much older model that doesn’t have that new-car smell or all the features that newer models tend to have?

Just about every reputable car rental company is always refreshing their inventory of rental vehicles to keep business in good shape and keep customers constantly coming back. While there is always the chance that you may snag a lemon, odds are there’s nothing wrong with a used rental car. The odds of something wrong with it are really no different than buying a used vehicle from a dealer or a private seller.

New vs. Used Cars
Trying to decide between a new car and a used one? Check out this infographic

Benefits Of Buying A Used Rental Car

There are plenty of advantages of buying a used rental car, including the following:

  • Prices may be slightly lower because rental car companies purchase their vehicles in bulk
  • Rental companies usually stay on top of repairs and maintenance, which means the odds of the vehicle being in decent shape are pretty good
  • Most cars are still fairly new, so you may still be able to take advantage of the warranty
  • Third-party vehicle history reports may be available
  • You may be able to keep the car for a few days to test it out before buying it.
  • Most rental car companies only sell cars that are in great condition and leave the poor-condition ones to auctions

Everything you need to know about purchasing a used vehicle online. 

Drawbacks Of Buying A Used Rental Car

Unfortunately, there are also potential disadvantages of buying a used rental car, including the following:

  • Rental cars are usually base models that don’t have all the frills that other used car sources might offer
  • There is a higher tendency for used rental cars to come with more minor damage – like scratches – compared to privately-owned vehicles
  • It’s difficult to know the full history of the car because there are so many people who have driven it before
  • The mileage might be high based on how often and how far certain cars have been driven
  • The stigma might be too much for some people to handle

Where Can You Buy A Used Rental Car?

Used rental cars can be purchased directly through rental car companies, as most of these firms have sales divisions that deal with these transactions. Car rental companies like Hertz, Avis, and Budget usually have a separate fleet available for purchase.

Should you buy a car online or through a dealership?

What Should You Do Before You Buy?

Before you buy a used rental car, there are a few steps you should take first to make sure you’re getting a good deal:

  • Have the vehicle inspected
  • Get a third-party history report
  • Compare lenders and the rates and terms they offer to finance the purchase
  • Compare different offers to make sure the price you pay is a fair one
  • Take the vehicle out for a test drive

Final Thoughts

There are some good deals to be had on used rental cars. You can take advantage of lower prices on relatively new-ish vehicles rather than pay full price for a car that instantly loses its value the moment it’s driven off the dealer’s lot. As long as you do your due diligence before signing a contract, there may be a good deal to be had on the purchase of a used rental car.

Rating of 5/5 based on 7 votes.

Lisa has been working as a personal finance writer for more than a decade, creating unique content that helps to educate Canadian consumers in the realms of real estate, mortgages, investing and financial health. For years, she held her real estate license in Toronto, Ontario before giving it up to pursue writing within this realm and related niches. Lisa is very serious about smart money management and helping others do the same.

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