What Is a Program Car?

by Ezmeralda Lee

"Program car" is a term used to describe numerous types of used vehicles. Most commonly a program car was a car used as a dealer demonstration to advertise the vehicle make and model, a rental car or fleet car, or a car owned for a short period of time by a company executive. Program cars can be both great deals and bad deals at car lots.


A program car is usually only defined as such when it has low mileage, typically less than 10.000 miles. Rental cars are very often sold after one or two uses in order to be sold as program cars and also in order to replace the rentals with newer model cars to attract more customers. This is also true with fleet vehicles and vehicles owned by company executives who are able to write off the vehicles as an expense of the business and trade them in often for newer models, allowing them to constantly have vehicles in great condition.


Program cars can be a great deal to purchase because they are not driven for an extended amount of time and therefore are less likely to have accumulated problems caused by wear and tear. Rental cars previously owned by a reputable company make wonderful program cars because the reputable companies will spend money on proper maintenance for their vehicles, ensuring that when the vehicles are returned to the market as program cars they are in wonderful condition, considering their uses.


A major disadvantage to purchasing a program car is that often care is not given to the vehicle because the person using the car is aware that they will be selling the vehicle later as a program car ad not keeping the car. This tends to lead to mistreatment and improper maintenance of a vehicle. Fleet vehicles used for utility companies may be a prime example of this because the vehicles are treated roughly, as work vehicles and if problems show before 10,000 miles, the vehicles can be sold to a program car lot as is.


A way to combat problems with purchasing a program car is to purchase a CARFAX vehicle history report for the vehicle. A CARFAX report will list previous owners, accidents the vehicle may have been in, previous uses of the car as a personal vehicle of company owned vehicle, and a schedule of maintenance for the vehicle. Many car lots will be able to provide this to you free of charge.


A common misconception that many people hold to, is that a program car or car previously used by a company for company use or for rentals is a bad choice for a vehicle purchase. This is not true in all cases. Many people find that purchasing a program car in great condition saves them a lot of many and offers as much quality as a new vehicle purchase.

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