Rental cars are usually a safe bet when it comes to buying a used car. Yes, you still have to be careful about what you buy but a rental company takes very good care of the cars. They are properly serviced and repaired in a timely manner, inspected regularly and repaired before being offered for sale. Some that rent cars tend to be more careless than driving their own car but there are car owners who are careless driving anyways. Most rental companies keep the cars for a year or two before taking them out of service. The mileage is about 20,000 to 30,000 miles and chances are they probably still have some warranty time left on them.
Some rental companies sell their own cars. Some sell thru an independent dealership. And then there are the car dealers who regularly buy rental cars by the fleet. Buying a rental car from a dealer is like buying any other car from a dealer. If they have a certified used car program, that is toy the consumers benefit. That means the car has been thoroughly inspected and repaired as necessary and usually comes with a warranty, either dealer or manufacturer backed.
Before you buy a previously used rental car, do your homework as you would for buying any car. Look up the bluebook value of the car and compare that to the asking price. Check out the consumer reports to find out if the car you are interested in has had any recalls or reported problems.
Before buying a used car from a dealer, ask if it was a rental. Some dealers have their own fleet of rental cars for customers having their cars serviced or repaired. Some buy a fleet of rentals from rental companies for their own used car inventory. A reputable dealer will tell you if it was a rental or the ad you saw in the paper may note that.
When you go to the dealer to buy a used car, ask to see the maintenance records. Whenever I trade a car in I always leave the receipts for any oil changes, tune ups, repairs, etc., in the glove box. That way the next owner can see how well the car has been maintained. Of course, I don’t really know if that information is sold with the car or gets discarded. I have never bought a used car.
It is a good idea to have an independent third party mechanic give the car a thorough mechanical once over. They will be able to tell you the true condition of the car and make you aware of any mechanical defects it may have or if the car was previously in an accident. Any reputable car dealer will allow you to do that. If they don’t, go elsewhere for a car.
Previously used rental cars seem to have more dings and scratches than normal. If you notice such on a car you are interested in ask if they are going to be repaired or painted before you take possession of the car. If they will fix those things, make sure you get it in writing and it is noted it is part of the sale price and not an added extra.
Buying a previously owned rental car can be a huge savings if you do your homework and deal with a reputable dealer.