When buying a used car, many drivers seek out fleet cars. Used as rental cars or company vehicles, fleet cars tend to be well-maintained and sold at attractive prices when their life of service ends. It's possible to get a great deal on a nice vehicle if you buy a fleet car, but it's not always smooth sailing. The drawbacks of fleet cars include the risk of hard usage, high mileage and hidden accidents. You may also find your choices limited to vehicles at the poverty-spec level.
Used and Abused
Many people don't treat rental and company cars kindly. Cigarette burns, spilled soda and hard driving just don't seem as problematic when you're not the one who has to fix the issues. Rental cars are often sold with fairly low mileage, but there's no way to know how hard those miles were. Company cars, too, often have harder lives than privately owned vehicles. Some buyers shy away from fleet cars for this reason.
To keep cars fresh and appealing to customers, rental car agencies often sell their cars when they reach a certain mileage level. Company-owned and government-owned vehicles, however, aren't always similarly situated. To save money, these agencies sometimes hang on to vehicles as long as possible, selling them only when repairs become frequent and cost prohibitive. Even car rental companies are keeping cars longer than they once did. It's getting increasingly difficult to find low-mileage fleet cars.
When a car or truck is party to an accident, the incident is typically reported to an insurance agency. This reporting creates a record and becomes part of the vehicle's history, which you can check before buying the car. However, depending on the nature of the accident and the cost to repair any damages, some companies fail to report the accident. Instead, they choose to fix their car in house and, when necessary, pay out of pocket for repairs to the other party's car or property. While potentially cost effective for the fleet owner, this practice prevents the accident from appearing on the vehicle's history. You're potentially buying a car that was in an accident that you won't know about.
To save money, many companies and organizations purchase fleet vehicles made specifically for that purpose. These vehicles are often bare-bones models that lack optional features and add-ons. Fleet cars frequently lack extras like heated seats, CD players, sunroofs and USB charging ports. Some even come with old-fashioned wind-up windows. If you're looking for a purely utilitarian vehicle to go from point A to point B, a fleet car will get you there. It's unlikely to do it in style, however.
Michelle earned her accounting degree summa cum laude and has extensive experience in business management and accounting. Entrepreneurship is in her blood, and her work focuses on helping small businesses successfully compete in a big market. Michelle also knows the value of a dollar and enjoys helping readers understand how best to maximize their money and enjoy a healthy financial life. Her work appears Chron's small business site. She has also worked on small business blogs for a national insurance chain.