June 2020
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Should You Buy a Rental Car?
Consider all your vehicle options

If you’re in the market for a used vehicle, you can choose to purchase a former rental car or a privately-owned car. Buying a rental car has its own set of positives and negatives that are worth thinking about before going car shopping.

The latest features

Rental car companies tend to have fleets comprised of newer vehicles to attract customers. As such, the companies will usually sell their cars when they are just a couple of years old, according to Tim O’Sullivan, writing for CarGurus. This means that you will be able to purchase relatively new rental cars, which have more modern technologies and amenities than many older used cars. Nevertheless, Nicole Arata, a former staff writer for NerdWallet, says rental cars don’t typically come with upgraded infotainment systems or other available amenities. If you’re interested in driving a vehicle with all the bells and whistles, it may be difficult to find a rental car that checks all your boxes.

Reduced costs

Used rental cars come with lower price tags that tend to fall below their retail values, according to Arata. In addition, rental companies often have no-haggle prices and bargains that you can take advantage of. Although rental cars are more affordable options, O’Sullivan notes that these vehicles also have lower resale values. The car’s resale value may not matter much if you plan to drive it for many years, but it’s important to keep in mind If you plan to trade it in after a few years.  

Past usage

Compared to a privately-owned car, rental cars usually have a lot more miles on their odometers, according to Arata. Since they have higher mileage, these cars may also have additional wear and tear, especially if a few past renters were aggressive drivers. However, despite past drivers’ different habits and behaviors, O’Sullivan says that reputable rental companies will properly clean and maintain their fleets. These companies will follow service schedules and work to keep their vehicles in good condition before selling them.

Research and inspections

Even if you already have your eye on a specific rental car, it’s important to do your homework before making a purchase. Writing for NerdWallet, Philip Reed recommends learning about the history of the used vehicle you’re interested in. Specifically, you may want to ask about the car’s past maintenance and potential accidents as well as check out the vehicle history report. It’s also worth taking a test drive to make sure the car is right for you. According to Arata, some rental companies will let you test drive the vehicle for three days. To have additional assurance before buying a car, Reed suggests having a mechanic inspect the vehicle to make certain that it’s functioning properly and doesn’t have any damage to be concerned about.

Rental cars come with a number of advantages and disadvantages, just as with any other vehicle. When searching for your next car, it’s a good idea to weigh all your options carefully and do your own research to best find the vehicle that suits your lifestyle.



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