Ex-Rental cars, a good purchase?

Over the past 10 years rental cars have been more or less the mainstay of any main dealers used car forecourt as they are readily available from manufacturers who sell them direct to the rental companies in varying degrees of volume.They are also often offered direct to dealers and although the mix of cars can sometimes be fairly mainstream they are often great value compared to a new car of the same vintage. So what are the advantages and disadvantages of buying an ex-rental example from your local dealer?

The advantages would be price, choice of volume models and colours, guaranteed mileages and condition.

The disadvantages are multiple users in the rental cycle, cars may have been smoked in or abused, the vehicles could have been driven very hard and there is often a stigma amongst customers about buying a rental car.

Certainly in previous years before dealers were forced to be more transparent there were some horror stories such as ex-rental cars having been in fairly major accidents and repaired without necessarily informing the end user leading to all kinds of reliability issues, also in days gone by a dealer could dispose of a registration document with a rental company name and address on it and a obtain road fund licence disc with a substitute form from the post office thus not disclosing the real keeper until the document came back to the unsuspecting customer several weeks later when it was too late.

Also if you don’t ask where a used car has come from and who the previous keeper was, some sneaky salespeople won’t necessarily volunteer that information. Most of the major volume brands in the UK source a large percentage of their used car stock through this medium and have been for some time, which means that it still sells well and the pros outweigh the cons. Certainly the bigger companies will negotiate fantastic deals on big bulk purchases of this stock and transfer those savings on to their customers which is why, when you search the web you can often find that the same cars with similar mileage and spec have price variances of £2,000 and more, another good reason to shop around.

Unlike the old days main dealers will often specify that they only want the “Grade A” cars for their forecourts and for the continuation of a long term relationship the rental companies and manufacturers would rather dispose of sub-standard stock through auctions and other re-marketing venues. This means, in theory at least, that the customer may be left with a 6 month old car, with a large saving on a new model which has been checked over by the rental company and fully inspected by the dealer and if the customer can overlook the fact that it has had many different drivers in its short life they may pick up a bargain.

Good advice would be to always check out the inside thoroughly and look for signs of smoking or heavy use. I have often seen cars where rental customers have carried building materials and household rubbish which have damaged the inside and boot areas (maybe even sand if it was a car rental in Dubai!). Always ask the source of the car and what checks will be carried out and importantly make up your own mind. As usual if it doesn’t look right walk away!

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