10 Reasons Buying a Used Rental Car Is a Really Bad Idea

Purchasing a used rental car might save you money, but there are other factors to consider.
Updated April 9, 2024
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family talking to the salesman

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Buying a used car can be a smart choice, particularly if you are trying to save money on car insurance or other costs. Some buyers might even consider buying a used rental car.

But that isn’t always a good idea. Here are a few reasons you may want to ditch the idea of choosing a rental car for your next vehicle.

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Rental cars have high mileage

Minerva Studio/Adobe woman driving her car

Used rental cars often have been driven for many miles. These cars are used every day by customers who drive them to multiple places, and often for long distances.

Those extra miles can add up and put extra wear and tear on a car.

Rental companies don’t know how a car is treated

Ivan Traimak/Adobe man sits inside a car

Rental companies will likely have maintenance and repair records for you to check out. However, you won’t learn everything about the car’s history.

For example, you won’t find out how renters used the vehicles, such as taking them off-roading.

You will likely be limited to basic models

carballo/Adobe man surprised at used car prices

If you're someone who likes extra features — such as a big infotainment screen for navigating your way through traffic or a nice trim package — you might have a tough time finding them in a rental.

Rental cars are usually basic vehicles that come without many bells and whistles. So, a used rental will likely lack the nice finishes of other used cars.

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There aren’t many luxury options

Вячеслав Думчев/Adobe young-woman-sits-in-a-car

If you want a luxury vehicle, it might be tough to find one when buying from a rental company.

Unless you're willing to settle for something less luxurious, you might have to give up on the notion of buying a rental.

You might not have warranty options

Jo Panuwat D/Adobe red car toy

Warranties can be a good idea if you are buying a new car and are worried about the vehicle having repair issues.

However, you might not have the same warranty options buying a used rental vehicle as you would with other types of used vehicles.

Rental cars have everyday wear and tear

Soloviova Liudmyla/Adobe man riding a car and his beagle dog

There probably have been times when you accidentally spilled something on your car’s seat or ran over a curb during your commute to work.

Imagine that happening to a car every day by drivers who aren’t as careful with a rental as they would be with their own car. Driver after driver, that damage can add up.

The resale value might be lower

luismolinero/Adobe pretty girl holding car key

Typically, the resale value of a car that was once a rental is going to be less than what you might get for a typical used car.

So, if you plan to resell in the future, factor that reality into your decision about whether to buy a rental.

You might not have many options

stocksolutions/Adobe used car sales

Rental companies like to use specific cars for their rental fleets, and it’s possible you might not like any of these models.

So, you will either have to settle for one of these models or shop for a different type of car in the traditional used car market.

You might not know the full maintenance history

DragonImages/Adobe car mechanic talking to owner

It’s important to learn the maintenance and repair history of any used vehicle you purchase. You typically can get that information from the rental car company selling the vehicle.

However, as with any car, there can be information that slips through the cracks. If you plan to buy a rental car, get an independent inspection just in case.

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There might be aesthetic issues

rh2010/Adobe couple choosing luxury car

Rental car agencies are careful to note major dents and dings on the outside of their cars. They will also look for big rips and tears on the inside.

But small scratches and little dents might not be noticed or fixed. The rental company might overlook small interior issues as well.

Bottom line

alfa27/Adobe afro lady getting keys

In some cases, buying a rental car can be a good option. But before you do, it’s important to factor in the downsides of buying a rental.

Carefully weigh the pros and cons of buying a rental car before you take the plunge. Remember, buying a rental car is not the only way to save money on your next vehicle.

You might be able to buy a different type of vehicle and cut your costs by shopping around, so you're able to keep more cash in your wallet.

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Author Details

Jenny Cohen Jenny Cohen is a freelance writer who has covered a bit of everything, from finance to sports to her favorite TV shows. Her work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and FoxSports.com.

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