Buying a Car from Hertz Car Sales

This is the seventh and final post in my recent series about our journey to used car ownership. If you missed the other parts of this series, head down to the end of this post for the complete list. I’ve had a fantastic time sharing our story with you and hope you’ve found it useful!

Last month, I introduced the subject of buying rental cars in general, and I got a better-than-expected response from all of you. The vast majority of the 40+ comments seem to echo the encouragement I noted that people who’ve owned rental cars before have about the process.

I noted some of the major pros and cons of rental car buying. Let’s quickly recap:

  • Pros: Better price, recent model years, the ability to “try before you buy,” hassle-free buying, a warranty, and buying the “cream of the crop.”
  • Cons: Rental cars may have been driven hard, car selection is limited, cars are basic trim, high mileage, poor aesthetics, and a lack of a long-term warranty.

For more details, check out the original post. Today, I’d like to focus specifically on the Hertz Car Sales program (formerly Hertz Rent2Buy) and share my comprehensive review with you. I’ll discuss in detail the whole car-buying process and things we specifically liked and disliked with Hertz.

For those of you considering Hertz Rent2Buy and on the fence based on what you’ve read online, this might help you to make a decision. I definitely wish there was a comprehensive review like this one when I was going through the process!

Background

As I’ve talked about these past weeks, we experimented with one car for a while, and finally decided to sell our old car on Craigslist and look for something new to buy. We milled over the new vs. used decision for a few days, and discovered a new alternative–buying a rental car.

I actually found out about Hertz Rent2Buy through eBay, because the company lists a lot of their cars that way. I was curious about the program, so I decided to check out some of their used car values and how competitive they could really be.

Luckily, Hertz was offering the exact model we were looking for (Mazda 5!).

The Process

The Hertz Rent2Buy process is a fairly straightforward and no-hassle way to buy a car. Here is more or less how things went down:

  1. After selecting the car we wanted, the next step was to check if Hertz has those models available. They were available locally, and there were a handful (about 10-20) specific cars to choose from.
  2. We picked the specific car we wanted based on the model year, mileage, color, and other minor details. The price is non-negotiable; however, there are coupon codes floating around the web–we got $250 off the price
  3. Once we had the exact car we wanted in sight, “reserving” the vehicle was a matter of a few clicks, including picking a date/time for pickup at the rental office.
  4. As instructed, we waited for the confirmation call from Hertz, which came the day before our scheduled rental. The call confirmed the car was ready for pick-up, gave us up-to-date mileage, and discussed minor damage present on the car (a couple of small scratches).
  5. Finally, rental day came. We drove to our local airport, where Hertz is located here, and headed to the rental counter. The gentleman who helped us had never done a Rent2Buy transaction before, but he quickly got help. We were able to view the car before making a final decision, and then filled out the rental paperwork within 10 minutes.
  6. Next was the fun part–a three-day test drive, where we could put the car through its paces without a salesman in the back, or pressure to hurry. See the next section below for more details on the test drive.
  7. Once we decided to make the purchase, it was once again a matter of going online and clicking through a few simple screens. We were also able to submit a financing application on the spot.
  8. The process continued and we received a call from Hertz the following day to go over our purchase and financing. All of our paperwork was FedEx-ed to us overnight for our review.
  9. Once the paperwork arrived (and there was a lot of it), it was time-consuming, but simple to get through everything. All the papers were correct, and were well-noted with post-its on what needed to be signed, filled out, etc. Most importantly, there was no pressure to “hurry up and read” like at the dealership. I took my time going through the papers.
  10. The down payment had to then be wired to Hertz from our bank (there were other options available, but that was the simplest). Once this payment was in, the rental period was stopped and all of our rental fees were scrapped.
  11. We then had to have some of the papers notarized and shipped everything back in a pre-paid FedEx envelope.
  12. A few days later, we received a call from the financing company to finalize that end of the deal.
  13. Things were quiet after this as the title company and financing company both worked on their ends to finalize everything. About two weeks later, we received the final car registration and our first bill.
  14. As one last final hoo-rah, we swapped the rental plates with our own, and shipped back the originals to Hertz. The following week, we received a refund check for unused portions of our registration fee (we transferred our plates, which cost about $10 instead of $300).
  15. We are now the proud owners of a fairly new 2008 Mazda5. Good deal.

Thoughts on the Test Drive

I have a couple of tips for the test drive that I think will make the whole experience different than any other car-buying process you’ve ever gone through:

  • Have the car inspected by a trusted mechanic or a friend in the business. Don’t pay excessively for an inspection, but a nominal fee is worth it for peace of mind on your purchase.
  • Listen to the car well instead of blasting the radio all day. Is the engine running well? Does the A/C work quietly? Is the suspension making noises over bumps?
  • Use the car in as many ways as possible (drive to work, go to the beach, shop for groceries, etc.), and put it through its paces. Does it function well?
  • Try all the systems on the car, including less-frequently used items, like the windshield wipers and high-beams.

You have three days to test-drive your new car. Don’t let this awesome opportunity pass you by.

What Did We Think?

Here are specific observations about the process and the deal:

Plus Side

  • The car itself was a little banged up in terms of aesthetics, but it wasn’t anything detailing or shampoo couldn’t fix. It was in excellent mechanical condition otherwise, and our mechanic signed off on it with flying colors.
  • The price was easily $2,000-$3,000 less than comparable dealer prices and even Blue Book value. That’s a 15-20% savings on the purchase price in our case. And it also means that even if we have to put some money into it (care, detailing, etc.), we will come out ahead. 6-month update: We still haven’t had to put any money into it.
  • The paperwork and the whole process went along very smoothly (with the exceptions noted below). In other words, it was really easy to buy this car.

Minus Side

  • Since the mileage changes so rapidly on the rentals, Hertz “standardizes” the sale mileage as the last known number prior to the rental. Convenient for them, since it’s about 500 miles less than when we actually got the car, and their 2,000-mile warranty kicks in at their mileage. Wasn’t worth arguing over, but that’s pretty crappy.
  • It was tough to reach my Rent2Buy service rep by phone or email. At times, I felt like I was being ignored. At the same time, I knew that if I had an urgent issue, there were other agents I could contact at the same phone number.
  • We were called three times by an automated system claiming we were “overdue” on our rental return. Trying to reach the extensions department was a 30-minute ordeal, but it ended up that the Rent2Buy people, an entirely separate department, had to close out our rental. No big deal, but it was annoying.
  • After the purchase and initial paperwork, things kind of went quiet. We did get an email saying our stuff went to processing for a title, but I wish I was kept in the loop a little better overall. We weren’t entirely sure when to transfer license plates, etc.

Even with some of the hassles, I was very impressed with the whole experience, and I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking to buy a used car. We love our new ride, and it’s definitely an excellent value for what we decided to spend on it.

Rent2Buy is a relatively new program, and I’m sure they’re still working out the kinks. As they get going, I have a feeling this will become one of the most popular new ways to buy used cars. Quote me on it.

Update: I recently published a follow-up post that combines many of the comments people have left under this review. Check it out here: Hertz Car Sales Update.

Photo by Ken_Mayer

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:

  1. Our One-Car Experiment and Car Decision
  2. How to Sell Your Car on Craigslist
  3. Using Consumer Reports to Select a Car
  4. Would You Buy a Rental Car?
  5. Should You Buy a New or Used Car?
  6. Is An Extended Car Warranty Worth It?
  7. This post!

118 thoughts on “Buying a Car from Hertz Car Sales

  1. Pauline says:

    Just want to say that I had a pretty good experience buying a 2010 Matrix from Hertz Rent to Buy. I was looking to buy a recent model used car and came across this post. After reading all the comments I decided to give Hertz a try. This is my first used car in 25 years. Just can’t bring myself to pay for new car price. The price for the Matrix was $12,000, a few thousands below market value. I put in about $600 to fix minor stuff and fluid change etc.. The whole process took less than a month but it was a cash deal. Bought the car in March and have already put in 13,000 miles on it.

  2. bernardd says:

    Buyer Beware!! I foolishly thought hertz would be better than “used car salesman” actually, they are worse. sold me a car they said had a missing remote when i checked it out, turned out that there is no remote. they are liars!! you have to be super careful with these con artists disguised as a reputable company.

  3. D says:

    I just bought a 2011 Honda Odyssey LX in August from Hertz Rent2Buy $20,950 + Tax and fees which is pretty much KBB Private Party Very Good Price, retail price is at least $26,500 new here in San Diego CA. Carfax was clean except the fleet car tag, not that they would report anything anyway. Odysseys go very fast usually with 24 hours of being listed. So if you see one grab it fast. Once reserved its basically yours unless you change your mind within the reserve time, not like at a dealership where theres alot of pressure and you cannot just think about it. The price is no haggle which is nice but the promos change and right now the promo is the best I have seen it. Which makes competition for the best cars go up. I have only ever seen one other odyssey in my area go on sale since I bought, as I said they go super fast. Mine had only 23,600 miles on it which is low for this program, most are at least 5,000 or 10,000 miles more. Mine was on rental when I reserved it and in the 2 weeks it was out they put on an extra 1,000 miles pretty crazy.

    Anyways on to condition. The shape of the car was good not great. A few things I did not notice upfront. The windsheild molding was off the car. Upon closer inspection the windsheild was installed to one side too much and the molding would not fit properly. I told Hertz and after 3 weeks of having it inspected by Hertz and Safelite they finally covered it under warranty by replacing the whole windshield, the clips, and moulding. Hertz was very proactive in fixing the problem, but it did take some driving and weeks of time before a solution was found. Another problem was the dashboard gauge dimmer switch was completely broken off. Very subtle but I caught it pretty quick. That will be covered by Honda Bumper to bumper warranty. Have to replace the whole dash for one little switch but at least they are doing it. Other smaller problems there was a bolt missing in the rear bumper $2.00. Some of the plastic panals inside have alot of scratchs so I replaced the ones that were looking bad, mostly in the trunk area. About $25 each not bad. Had to scrub some of the interior from some stains. Also the paint needed work, minor swirl marks from auto car washes. Corner bumps from shopping cart damage and someone backed into a pole middle of the rear bumper this can all be buffed out or just ignored if you want to. The engine was very dirty, and the oil had not been changed in a while very black, and the tires were wearing poorly due to no tire rotations. I seriously doubt the car was maintain really well but in 24,000 miles there is not too much damage that can be done. If you dont mind doing the refurb work or just want to ignore it you can save a couple grand in the process. I used to work for Enterprise, the maintainance is car washes, and an occasional oil change if the car is available and seriously overdue. They only make money when the car is rented so… I would look for the lowest miles you can get. Overall the car was in good condition. If you want a perfect car or one that is totally ready to go this is, not for you. It will cost some money and time to refurb and some things like the tires and oil need to be done immediately upon getting the car to save problems later.

    Overall this is my type of car purchase. I get to save thousands and fix things up on the cheap, my labor mostly and purchase a car I would never have been able to afford otherwise. The Hertz process was pretty smooth, once reserved I had days to decide if I want it. Took to a mechanic who said it looked good overall. The warranty work was slow but steady and proactive. The contract was signed at my house after the windshield was replaced 3 weeks later and fedexed back. The loan was handled from my credit union over email. I kept the van the whole time. Very different buying experience. I didnt have to sit in a high pressure sales office for 12 hours with kids like last time I bought a car. I did have to drive to the local Hertz at the airport a few times about 35 minute drive each way but thats not too bad. Once for the van and again for the warranty stuff. I was able to get $800 off the listed price. $500 promo and $300 coupon from Google search. I would do it again. The car did not smell, and not abused just rough around the edges like a rental can get. I would also pump alot of quality gas for a while, I am sure the rental got its share of cheap non detergent gas so some techron would be a good idea too.

  4. ashish says:

    I am also planning to buy one car through rent2buy program. This is first time we are buying rental vehicle so taking steps very carefully.
    I checked auto check report and it says vehicle have loan/lien record. i checked two of their vehicle they both says same.
    What is it? Will that cause any problem for me?

    • Wojciech Kulicki says:

      Typically, that would indicate a car loan, but in the case of Hertz, I’m not quite sure. Usually, the lien will have to be satisfied anyway for the sale to go through, so it may just be something Hertz takes care of at the time of the sale. Best bet would be to call & ask them.

    • Luke says:

      Same here, I am in the process of buying a car via Rent2Buy and the AutoCheck that Hertz provided to me has a record of loan/lien. Waiting on their response before I sign the dotted line.

      • Luke says:

        Purchased a VW Jetta from Hertz Rent2Buy. A very nice car. They put a new set of tires on it and I took it to a mechanic for a look over before buying, my mechanic recommended new rotors and brakepads. Asked Hertz to replace and they did arranged me to bring it to a shop to get all replaced. Very happy so far with the entire process. Have the car booked into a VW garage this Friday for a service and checkup.

  5. Ellen says:

    Hi,

    Thanks for everyone’s comments, this has been so helpful.

    I have been looking at Mazda3′s. I live in the tri-state area and in my area I have found 7 cars, all the same model and color. I did the 30 day unlimited Autocheck on each of them. 2 out of the 7 have an accident showing up on the report, it says “minor accident or vehicle damage reported”. They are priced similarly, which is concerning. Maybe they were barely even fender benders, but who knows. I’m glad I checked.

    Has anyone gone through the process since September 2012? I’m really hoping the whole issue with the cars not being ready on day of pick up isn’t an issue anymore. It seems like if they are charging your card $10 for being a no-show, then they would actually do what they say and pull the cars out of the rental fleet. I’d be willing to put a larger deposit down just to ensure my car would be ready when scheduled. This is going to be a big issue for me trying to arrange the logisticsfor pick up and possible return even for the actually day and time that I have my car scheduled, let alone if it ends up not being ready. Has anyone had experiences at the Lynbrook NY location, or the other locations nearby?

    Thanks,
    Ellen

  6. Michelle says:

    My first experience with Hertz Rent To Buy was rather disappointing. I had to use a day of vacation since the rental place is open only until 6 on weekdays and it’s very hard for me to leave work and drive across town to make it there to test the car for 2 hours before the place closes. I was only left with a message describing the car as being in “good” condition, which I guess I now know that that means two deep gauges on the left side of the bumper, several scratches (2 deep) on the bumper itself and 2 dings and other miner scratches on the car. It also came with chocolate crumbs inside the interior, so I guess they were thinking maybe I would need a snack later or something?! Anyway, I am going to give them a second time and hopefully this time the car will be in better cosmetic shape or they will give me more of a clue before I go there so I don’t waste my time. Oh and they would go down on the price, but barely over 100.00, not worth it to me with the cosmetic flaws that were on it.

  7. Keith says:

    I recently purchased a Hertz rent 2 buy car, or I should say I recently paid for one on January 24. Today is February 13. I was told by Hertz that I should receive title and registration by mail within the next week or two. I have been lied to on more than one occasion, promises they made were not kept. This was definitely the worst car buying experience of my life, and could possibly be yours too, if you decide to purchase a car from Hertz.

  8. Chuan says:

    I feel grateful finding this website. Thank you Wojciec for setting up this interesting discussion. I hope there are still people using this page to talk about this program. I just order a 2013 Mazda 3 i from R2B program and I will pick up ( hope they will make t ready at that time) the car next Friday in Syracuse, NY. I would like to keep updating my whole experience of this purchase ( if it works out as expected, hopefully!!!) and let you guys know whether Hertz has already improved its work efficiency! Thanks

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