Buying an ex-rental car

Buying an ex-rental car is an option for anyone in the market for a car and could be worth investigating for those seeking a bargain. But while buying an ex-rental car could save you some cash when buying a second-hand car, there are several factors to consider before making your purchase. This article discusses the main pros and cons of buying an ex-rental car, equipping you with the all the essential knowledge to make an informed decision.

Get a free valuation

Ex-rental car advantages

  • Potential savings

    Perhaps the most obvious advantage of buying an ex-rental car is the potential savings you can make – new cars lose value the moment they’re driven off the forecourt. Technically, ex-rental cars should help you avoid the worst of this depreciation hit, as their value reduction typically occurs during the hire car period. Whist this might not always be the case, it’s a useful rule of thumb.

  • Legal protection

    Under the 2008 Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations, dealers are obliged to inform you if the car they’re selling is an ex-rental. Failure to comply could result in a Trading Standards investigation and a hefty fine.

  • A vast range of models to choose from

    Several thousand ex-fleet cars are sold every month, giving motorists a wide range to choose from. As a potential buyer, you can survey the market or compare the price and condition of the exact make and model you’re considering.

  • Sold by reputable car hire companies

    Ex-rental cars sold by reputable hire companies are generally in good condition, with many firms hiring service teams to ensure their vehicles remain in peak condition. Hertz, for example, carries out oil, water and pressure level checks every six days, guaranteeing a smooth, efficient ride.

  • Maintenance

    If you’re considering buying an ex-rental car, you can be fairly confident that the vehicle has been well maintained, with regular checks and servicing throughout its life.

    After all, it’s in the rental company’s best interests to keep its fleet in good condition, both inside and out. This will ensure they get a good price for their ex-rental cars when they sell them on. A well-maintained car will sell at a much higher price than one that’s in poor condition.

    What’s more, rental companies have their reputations to uphold. They want their customers to keep choosing them over their competitors – and drive more business through word-of-mouth recommendations. If a customer rents or buys a car that is damaged, dirty or unreliable, they’ll soon take their business elsewhere.

  • Service history

    Most rental companies are particular about servicing their vehicles, so you can virtually guarantee that one of their ex-rental cars will come with a full service history.

    This is not always the case with used cars on the private market. With a busy work and life schedule, it’s all too easy for drivers to miss a service interval or two or misplace important paperwork.

    If you buy an ex-rental car with a full service history, you’ll know exactly what checks, maintenance and repairs have been carried out throughout the vehicle’s life - and you’ll have all the paperwork (or digital records) as proof.

    A complete service history can give you a detailed picture of the car’s overall condition and any potential problems you may encounter further down the road. It could even be a useful tool if you wanted to negotiate on the price.

    Ultimately, having as much information as possible when you’re considering buying an ex-rental car can give you some peace of mind and help you decide whether to make the purchase.

  • Less ‘city miles’

    Buying an ex-rental car can be a good option, as generally speaking, rental cars tend to do more ‘motorway miles’ than ‘city miles’. After all, drivers are more likely to hire cars for airport runs, long journeys or business trips.

    Motorway miles are much easier on cars than city miles for several reasons. Driving in cities invariably involves lots of stopping and starting due to the frequency of traffic lights and traffic jams. This can cause wear and tear on the engine, brakes, transmission and battery.

    In comparison, drivers can usually maintain more consistent speeds on motorways - and don’t need to brake or change gear as often. Motorway surfaces are also much smoother than city roads, which tend to have more potholes and rougher surfaces. This puts less strain on the tyres and suspension.

Ex-rental car disadvantages

  • Rental cars can see heavy use

    Rental cars are used by several drivers for various purposes, so it’s impossible to get an idea of how well they’ve been treated. This doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll all be in bad condition, as the rental firm conducts maintenance but vital internal parts like the brakes and clutch might sustain more wear and tear. However, this is not a consistent issue and you can avoid unpleasant surprises by verifying the car is in the advertised condition.

    As a counterpoint, it’s worth remembering that rental cars often include hefty nsurance excesses, which might encourage renters to drive sensibly and return the vehicle in prime condition.

  • Unscrupulous sellers

    While most rental companies are likely to be reputable businesses, it’s almost never sensible to take that on blind faith. Therefore, when shopping for an ex-hire car, check that its parent company is a member of the British Vehicle and Rental Leasing Association (BVRLA) – this will ensure processes are in place to make the ex-rental fit for purpose.

  • Potential for more cosmetic damage

    Most drivers would say that they treat rental cars with respect. However, it’s probably also fair to say that they’re not quite as careful as they would be with their own car.

    If even one in ten customers cause a small amount of cosmetic damage to a rental car, this can add up over the course of a few years.

    Whether it’s a little ding or scratch caused by roughly dragging a heavy suitcase or pushchair out of the boot - or a lingering smell from one too many fast food meals, sometimes an ex-rental car’s history can be obvious.

    Of course, there are incentives to take care of a rental car. The insurance excess is usually pretty high, so you’ll want to avoid having to pay this. What’s more, if you intend to use the rental company again, it pays to look after their car. After all, if you bring it back in a poor condition, they might not accept your custom next time.

Buying an ex-rental car: the bottom line

Bypassing the ex-rental market could limit your options but it’s vital to conduct the appropriate research before you decide to buy any used car.

This guide has weighed up some of the pros and cons of buying an ex-rental car but the decision is ultimately yours. If you’re set on purchasing an ex-rental car, it might be worth selling your current vehicle. For a 30-second, hassle-free quote, enter your reg here.