How to Buy a Car From a Rental Company

by Josh Fredman

Rental cars have a reputation for being abused, which makes some people wary of buying one. However, the reputation is exaggerated, and rental car sales are in fact a legitimate and growing business. Rental cars do have abusive drivers on occasion, but they are well-maintained by the rental company and usually retired after less than two years of service. They are then inspected before being offered for sale. They also come with pretty good warranties, so far as used-car warranties go. If you're in the market for a new car, consider buying a rental.

Learn what's out there. Virtually every major car rental company has a website specifically for car sales. Browse these websites to find out about suitable cars in your area.

Review the car's history. Rental car companies will usually be up-front about providing documents showing damage repairs, mechanical repairs and routine maintenance.

Obtain an independent vehicle history report from an agency like Carfax, if the rental car company does not provide this information itself.

Look the car over thoroughly in person.

Have the car thoroughly inspected by an independent mechanic whom you trust. This step will cost you, but it is well worth it. A couple hundred dollars now may save you thousands down the road.

Arrange to keep the car for a day or two. Drive it during this time to get a feel for the car.

Be prepared to walk away from the deal if you are not satisfied, despite the money you have already spent. If you're satisfied and the price is agreeable, buy the car.

Consider whether to buy an extended warranty from the rental car company. Typically the car will come with a basic warranty, but extended warranties can be worthwhile depending on what you're buying and what your driving needs are.

Tip

  • check Most rental car companies will not budge on the listed sale price. If you are exceptionally persuasive, you may be able to get them to deduct the cost of any security deposits or inspection fees you have paid, but in general you should not treat this as an ordinary, haggling-style negotiation.

About the Author

Josh Fredman is a freelance pen-for-hire and Web developer living in Seattle. He attended the University of Washington, studying engineering, and worked in logistics, health care and newspapers before deciding to go to work for himself.