Buying a Rental Car: A Good or Bad Idea?


Everything You Need to Know About Buying a Rental Car

If you’re in the market to buy a car, you will most likely come across the option to buy a rental car. If you mention to a friend or family member that you’re considering buying a rental, you’ll likely be met with the same response; DON’T! People assume that rental cars are abused by the hundreds of people that drove them in the past and are therefore unreliable. Are these valid concerns or could a rental car be considered a reliable vehicle? In this article, we’ll try to answer this question by looking at the pros and cons of buying a rental car and things to consider before buying one. 

Pros of Buying a Rental Car

More Affordable Way of Buying a Car. Rental companies buy their vehicles in high volume and therefore get their cars at a discounted rate. Because of this, they are able to sell these vehicles for less than the average car dealership would. Depending on the vehicle, you could see discounts between 10-20%!

More Convenient Way to Buy a Car. Let’s face it, buying from a dealership can be a high-pressure and stressful process. Companies like Hertz, Avis and Enterprise make the buying process much more relaxed. They do this by allowing two-hour test drives or three-day rent-to-buy programs where you take the car for three days at a reduced daily rental price to see if you like the car. If you decide to buy the car from the three-day rental program, you will be refunded the rental fee. The last major advantage to buying from a rental company is that they allow 7-day returns in case you change your mind. 

The Vehicles Are Well Maintained. Rental companies are diligent in ensuring that their vehicles are well maintained and kept for. Not only are the mechanical check-ups done as recommended by the manufacturer, but the interior of the vehicles are cleaned regularly. 

Newer Vehicles For Less. Rental companies like to keep their rental vehicles up to date, so it’s not uncommon to find vehicles that are only a year or two old for sale. These vehicles are usually sold for much cheaper than they would be sold from a dealership.

Warranties. The last pro of buying a rental car is that you’re guaranteed some form of a warranty. Most of the major rental companies will allow a 1 year or 24,000km powertrain warranty, putting you at ease for at least a year. This warranty is typically much better than what you’d find at a used car dealership. Although at either a dealership or rental company, if there is any warranty remaining from the manufacturer, it will carry over to your ownership. 

Cons of Buying a Rental Car

Unknown History. One of the biggest disadvantages to buying a rental car is you don’t know how the car was driven before buying it. It’s possible that many renters drove it aggressively, increasing the wear and tear.

Higher Mileage Vehicles. The average Canadian drives their vehicle around 22,000km per year. But with rental vehicles, you’ll find the number of kilometres put on them annually can be double this and sometimes even triple that amount of kilometres. Keep this in mind when you’re buying, it’s ok for the vehicle to have some miles on it but perhaps stay away from a vehicle that has 80,000km after just a year of being on the road.

Mostly Base Model Vehicles. The last disadvantage to buying a rental car is that usually rentals companies only buy base model vehicles. Your not often going to find a rental with many upgrades or add ons. So if you’re hoping to get a car with a premium audio system and upgraded safety features, you’ll probably have to look somewhere else. 

Things To Do Before Buying

  • One of the most important things to do before buying a rental car is to take it for a test drive. Look for any unusual wear on the interior or exterior and listen for any weird noises as you drive. If you can do a rent-to-own and drive the vehicle for 3 days, this would be the best way to really get a feel for the vehicle.
  • Get a vehicle history report from either the rental company or buy one from Carfax. You need to know if this vehicle has been involved in any accidents or needed any major repairs. 
  • Once you’ve taken the car for a test drive and seen its full history report, you should hire a mechanic to do a thorough inspection of the vehicle to make sure there are no hidden issues. 
  • The last thing to do before buying a rental car is getting pre-approved for financing! If you get pre-approved you’ll know exactly what you can afford and which vehicles you’ll be able to buy. 

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