This is part of a seven-post series discussing our journey to buy a new car. Scroll to the bottom of this post to explore the entire series.
We think so–in fact, we just did it, and thus far we’re very impressed. You can now read my complete review of the Hertz Rent2Buy program.
But I have no doubt that this post will be tough to swallow for many of you. When you tell someone you’re going to buy a rental car, I’ve noticed you get three types of responses:
- Indifference: 48% of people have either never rented a car, or treat them just as well as their own, so they have no opinion. However, they’ve “heard” that buying rental cars is not a good idea, so if pushed, they probably would not recommend it. Their typical response to you: “Okay, cool!”
- Horror: Yet another 48% will tell you horror stories about how they themselves have treated rental cars, or things they have heard through the grapevine. They are appalled that you would even consider such a travesty. Their response “OMG, never EVER buy a rental car.”
- Encouragement: Then there are the 4% that have actually purchased a rental car in the past. And without fail (I have yet to find an exception), they will tell you that they got an awesome deal and a reliable car for years! Their response: “You should totally do it.”
I’m generalizing in a big way, but the story is the same whether you poll your friends or Google the issue. Read between the lines, and you find that the people who have “walked the walk” would do it again. Those who have not, run scared. How about you?
Here are some points to consider (as we did) when looking at a potential rental car purchase:
Pros of Buying a Rental Car
There are some big benefits when you buy a rental car versus a dealer vehicle or a private sale. Here are a few:
- Price is the biggest benefit. For the car, year, and mileage you are getting, the price is well below “street value.”
- The vehicles are usually one or two model years back, so you get the latest features and safety equipment.
- Some rental programs let you try out the car for several days before you make the decision to buy. This is a good chunk of time to get a “feel” for the practicality of the vehicle and get it inspected by a mechanic.
- Less hassle, usually, then trying to deal with a private sale, since the company takes care of your paperwork, title, loans, etc.
- You usually get a short-term warranty or a money-back period to fix problems that become immediately apparent or if you change your mind.
- The rental company follows the manufacturer’s recommended service schedule, and you can expect that they fix all problems as soon as they come up (after all, a broken car can’t be rented). Hertz, in particular, apparently only sells the “cream of the crop” from their fleet–cars that have not had any major work done.
Cons of Buying a Rental Car
There are also some actual and potential negatives to weigh when it comes to rental car buying, such as:
- Most people’s first objection is “the car has probably been driven extremely hard.” You can let this be the deal-breaker, ignore the issue, argue that most people would drive rental cars responsibly, or ask “So what? The car can take it…”
- The car selection is limited to the specific rental company’s fleet. (We got lucky, since our model is popular with Hertz).
- Most of the cars in the fleet are the basic trim, so if you’re looking for bells and whistles as standard features, you need to look elsewhere.
- For the model year of the car, the vehicles are fairly high-mileage (20-25,000 miles per model year), although exceptions can be found.
- You have to put up with a fair amount of aesthetic blemishes. In other words, the car will be banged up, dinged, scratched, and blotched a bit more than usual.
- The cars are also fairly “dirty” on surfaces like cloth, carpet, etc. You’ll have to spring a few bucks for detailing or shampooing.
- You don’t get the benefit of a bigger warranty, like some “certified pre-owned” dealer cars.
What’s Your Take?
I’m curious to see where you stand on the issue. Have any of you gone through the experience in the past? Would you ever consider buying a rental car? Do you think I made the worst mistake of my life? (You can be honest, I don’t mind!)
This is part of a seven-post series on our new car journey. Below are links to posts that have already been published as part of this series:
- Our One-Car Experiment and Car Decision
- How to Sell Your Car on Craigslist
- Using Consumer Reports to Select a Car
- This post
- Should You Buy a New or Used Car?
- Is an Extended Car Warranty Worth It?
- Review of Hertz Rent2Buy
Photo by Bluewaikiki