Since I published my thoughts on buying rental cars and my review of Hertz Car Sales over a year ago, they have been among the most popular posts on this site. Readers are very interested in ways to save on their car purchases and are willing to give buying a rental car a try.
It’s an ever-evolving story, with nearly 200 comments between the two posts, and I thought I would take this opportunity to review some of the most informative ones for your benefit. Let’s dive right in:
Buying a Rental Car
There was clear support for buying rentals from a large group of people. Among them:
“…My last car was a rental – and it was in pristine condition – clean carpets, less than 30k miles, and it was about 1000 dollars less than comparable non-rental cars.” – Peter
“You can get great deals on rentals and I feel that if you treat it right after you get it, it will treat you right.” – Adam
“I’ve ran into no major problems with either [car] that could be attributed to being a rental car.” – thisisbeth
“…any car in our price range isn’t the belle of the ball, and I am also a total slob in the car so any sort of stain is about to be topped by me anyway. ” – Kevin I
“No major problems; I keep on the 3.5K oil changes, take it in for regular services, and it’s been a fantastic vehicle. We definitely would do it again.” – Sand and Tsunamis
“It looks clean, smells clean, and lots of bang for your buck.” – 29palms
A few people also defended the common worry that rental cars are driven harder than typical automobiles:
“I’ve been renting cars routinely for nearly 12 years. I work with many people that also rent often. In all those years and in all those cars I only recall us driving them like we would drive any other car, with one exception. ” – LeanLifeCoach
“…most rental companies take good care of their cars while they have them making sure they’re clean, regular oil changes/etc.” – Peter
“You can get dirty carpets and dings buying from any individual, and how would you ever know for sure how THEY drove it?” – Joe Plemon
“Actually, most of my friends who are very knowledgeable about cars say that when breaking in a new vehicle you are better off driving it relatively hard.” – Adam W.
Nevertheless, a few of you were not convinced and shared various warnings or stories from rentals past for the rest of us to consider:
“…you are definitely “paying” for the cons. It is below street value because it has been dinged up, high mileage, dirty carpets, driven hard, etc…” – Hank
“I guess my gut reaction would be that it’s a bad thing because I’m the type of guy who rents a car in Las Vegas and then runs it at 80 mph through the desert and mountains for seven hours. ” – Aaron
“I would log about 300+ miles a day driving that [rental] car for all it’s worth the entire time. I have a particular hatred for the Chevy Corsica. I worked with 9 other guys who did the same thing and I indeed witnessed the same driving habits.” – Paul
“Two months after purchasing, it was in the shop with an oil leak. After that visit and the leak was “fixed”, I had to take that car to the shop b/c it was leaking oil every six months or so.” – Kaity
“Consumer Reports does not recommend buying rental cars – that is enough for me. Also, a friend of ours did buy a rental cars (admittedly a decade ago) and he had very bad luck with it…” – Cyndi
“I worked at a rental car company for a year in college. I have seen rental car agencies cut corners too many times on maintenance. They use all sorts of tricks to keep those cars running.” – Mark
The end result was really a mixed bag–many of those who have tried buying rental cars in the past had no major problems to speak of; for others, it was nothing but problems.
Hertz Car Sales
While most of you could entertain the idea of buying a rental car, putting pen to paper with Hertz turned out to be a different experience for a lot of my readers.
Formerly known as Hertz Rent2Buy, the Car Sales division provided the Mazda5 that has been with us for almost a year and a half. We decided to go with Hertz because of the three-day trial period and the relative cost against dealer prices.
Our experience was outlined in detail in my review, but it turns out that some of the small issues I had with Hertz were multiplied ten-fold for readers.
The majority of the comments on this post were warning about bad experiences with Hertz. Here’s an abridged rundown:
“Buyer beware…the reps had confidently reassured me that there was no possible way the car could have been in any accidents…the local Toyota dealer who then found major damage to the front of the car that had been cheaply repaired to just cover up the cosmetic damage! I…notified the manager of this. She did not care! I called corporate office – they did not care.” – Pejman
“I complained about this and other issues I was having and could not get any response by email. When I talked to a representative…she gave me a great story and promised to give me $300…well, I’ve never seen the $300 and still don’t get a response to my emails…I would only suggest Hertz Rent2Buy as a last resort.” – Ben
“It was three days late to be ready, and once I picked it up, had serious issues…I was told the vehicle should be accident free. I suspect otherwise.” – Chip
“It is all very disconnected with the hertz program…[it] needs an overhaul…” – Pam
“The interior was worn badly, and had cigarette burns on the cloth interior through out the vehicle. There was trash still in the vehicle, an empty water bottle sticking from under the driver’s side seat. The car was vibrating…There needs to be some type of overhaul done…” – Trina
“…the car had been in a accident, and the rear bumper had been repaired/replaced, so was part of the side panel of the car, and most likely the trunk lid too…” – Janne
“I purchased a car from hertz in November and it’s January and I have yet to recieve my registration. I financed through Hertz, so I didn’t have to worry about wiring things back and forth, from day one no one called or communicated with me. I was constantly calling to get info on the status–everything from the secetary quit, to paperwork being lost was the answer…” – Ezell
“Neither Hertz nor my finance company kept up with me, I had to keep calling each one to find out that paperwork had not been sent from one or the other etc. At the end, Hertz was telling me that I had to return the car, I had to call them to make sure the repo man was not coming, afraid to wake up and find the car was gone out of my driveway.” – Pam
“If you have a short fuse for non-customer-focused customer service, as I do, this process might be more aggravating for you than it’s worth.” – DeeDee
Hertz offered their thoughts in the comments throughout the year, trying desperately to fix my reader’s problems on an individual level. Trina also reported:
“Hertz corporate reach out to me immediately from reading my post. The supervisor over the entire program was very nice and everyone that I have dealt with has been very helpful.” – Trina
It’s clear that the Hertz issues focused on two specific areas:
- The condition of the car (aesthetic issues or more serious ones like previous accidents).
- Customer service (Confusion, paperwork, and an overall disconnected experience).
I can only hope that Hertz is learning from their experience and making genuine improvements to this relatively new program. If I had the choice to go through it again, I would still buy from Hertz, but the fact that so many of my readers are not having the same luck or have a shorter fuse for bad customer service is worrisome.
Do you have a new Hertz Car Sales story? Share it with us below!