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Used Rental Cars: Should You Buy One?

Feb 18, 2008
Used rental cars are an excellent compromise between buying an older used car and buying a brand new vehicle. Used rental cars tend to have fairly low mileage, they're almost always less than a year old, and they're thousands of dollars less than a new version of the same car. Unfortunately, used rental cars also tend to be a little rough around the edges. Because they're commonly used and abused by their renters, they tend to have more scratches, dents, dings, and general wear-and-tear. But just because a used rental car has a little more wear, that doesn't mean it's a bad deal. Here's how you can figure out if a used rental car is right for you:

1) For how long will you use the rental car?

If your answer is only a few years, think about buying a used rental car. If your answer is five to ten years, you should take into consideration that privately-owned used cars have less wear in general than used rental cars. Consider this before buying one.

2) Do cosmetic problems bother you very much?

Cosmetic problems include things like scratches, dings, dents, stains, and smells. Most of the time, used rental cars have more cosmetic problems than privately-owned and, of course, new cars. If cosmetic problems really bother you, then don't purchase a used rental car.

3) Is your main concern just getting from here to there?

Although used rental cars tend to have more cosmetic defects, they often qualify for "certified used programs." Backed by the manufacturer, they include upgraded warranty coverage and those low financing rates usually offered with new vehicle financing.

4) Are you credit-challenged?

If your credit is less than perfect, a used rental car is a good way to buy a fairly new car while keeping your monthly payments down. Used rental cars often qualify for factory backed "certified used" programs, which usually have aggressive financing available for people with bad credit.

5) Do you want a car that is well maintained with hardly any mechanical problems?

When compared to used cars that were privately-owned, used rental cars are better maintained. The reason for this is that rental car companies lease cars from the manufacturers rather than buy them. The terms of the lease require that all the suggested maintenance be completed, and the rental car company must keep all the documents that prove they have. Since their cars are under warranty, rental car companies almost always adjust or fix mechanical problems when they arise.
About the Author
Author Jason Lancaster, a car industry veteran, developed AccurateAutoAdvice.com. You'll find accurate advice on used rental cars and buying a used rental car.
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