How to Buy a Car From a Rental Company

Buying a rental car can be a smart move.

Buying a rental car can be a smart move.

Buying a car from a rental company can have many advantages. The cars are typically less than 2 years old, cosmetically appealing, well-maintained and come with complete records of all work done. While some people worry about the abuse rental cars may have suffered, it is not usually as bad as you might think, and cars purchased from rental agencies normally come with low mileage and reasonable warranties when compared with other used cars.

Locate rental car outlets in your area. Most car rental agencies, especially the larger ones, have sales outlets scattered throughout their territories, and you can often go to one of these locations to look at cars. In some cases you may be able to view the cars online and then make arrangements to see in person any that appeal to you.

Check all of the maintenance records for any cars you are considering. Rental agencies usually have very good records and are willing to tell you about any major problems, such as accidents or engine work. Make sure that any car you are considering has not had more than its share of troubles.

Obtain an independent vehicle history if the agency doesn’t provide you with one, or if you have any reason to doubt the validity of records the agency provides. You may have to pay a small fee for such a report, but the peace of mind it brings is more than worth the cost.

Inspect the car carefully, checking for things such as working vents, air conditioning, horn, lights and blinkers. If you don’t feel confident with this step, many areas have independent car certifiers you can hire to inspect the car for you and give you a written report. A local mechanic may also be willing to conduct an inspection for a fee, and may help you to avoid potentially serious problems such as transmission and engine flaws.

Drive the car to make sure you feel comfortable with it and that it handles the way you expect. If possible, arrange to take the car home overnight and spend plenty of time driving it while you have it. Some agencies allow you to take the car for up to three days as a rental before you commit to the purchase. Once you are certain that the car is a good buy, make arrangements to complete the purchase, either at the agency or, in some cases, online. If the agency offers you a contract for an extended warranty, consider the cost of the warranty and the period it covers.


  • You can try haggling, but don’t be surprised if the price of the car is firm. Rental companies typically fix a sales price when the car is set to be sold, and once they set a price they are not likely to change it.

About the Author

A recipient of a business and technology degree from the master's program at West Coast University, Cindy Quarters has been writing professionally since 1984. Past experience as a veterinary technician and plenty of time gardening round out her interests. Quarters has had work featured in Radiance Magazine and the AKC Gazette.

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