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5 Tips on Buying a Used Rental Car

If you are considering a used rental vehicle, make sure you read up on these valuable tips from our Kelley Blue Book experts.


Buying a used rental car is top of mind among shoppers hearing the recent news of major rental companies' financial woes. With the lack of business and pleasure travel by air due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many of these firms may have to sell off significant portions of their fleets, usually through their retail outlets. Here are Kelley Blue Book Canada's 5 Tips on Buying a Used Rental Car that buyers should keep in mind: 


Tip 1: Set reasonable expectations on price 

While rental companies are hurting, they’re not about to give the store away when it comes to retailing their stock. They’ve been selling their out-of-service rental units for many years, and watch the market closely. The prices may be at the bottom of the scale, but don’t expect bargain basement stickers when perusing their inventories. Most of these retail sales outlets operate on a one-price, no-haggle basis, so don’t expect to get a low-ball offer accepted. 


Tip 2: Do your homework 

Even before setting your foot on a rental company’s lot or searching online to buy a used rental car, do some basic research on the particular model you’re considering. Go to sites like Kelley Blue Book Canada to determine a vehicle’s value from private parties and dealers as both Certified Pre-Owned and non-CPO units. Once you get a feel for the market pricing, you’ll be in a much better position to determine whether or not what the rental company is offering is a good deal. 


Tip 3: What’s different between a dealer CPO and a used rental sale? 

Buying a vehicle from a rental company is similar to a dealer CPO unit in that both are typically one to three years old with relatively low mileage. Both the dealer and the rental car company inspect the vehicles, refurbish them if necessary, and usually throw in some warranty coverage. They differ, however, in that often the dealer CPO unit is an off-lease return driven by one customer. A used rental unit is the opposite—a car that has had many drivers. Be clear in either case of the vehicle’s use. Some dealers may also use their CPO program to sell off old service loaners or rentals from the dealership. 


Tip 4: What are the advantages of buying a used rental car? 

In addition to an attractive price, rental companies typically keep their units on strict maintenance schedules. They can’t afford the downtime from unscheduled repairs, so you can be reasonably sure that the vehicle is in top shape. Also, to maximize returns on their investment, these companies will only retail vehicles that are in above average condition. They will wholesale off fewer desirable units to non-franchised used car dealers. 


Tip 5: What are the pitfalls of buying a used rental car? 

While the pricing on the used rental car may look attractive, keep in mind how many kilometres the vehicle has been driven and other factors such as wear and tear from many different drivers. Reliability, dependability, and cost of operation can also factor into your total ownership costs. Some rental cars may look like a good deal. But if the vehicle needs frequent and costly repairs, especially on a high-end luxury vehicle, it may end up costing you more in the long run than a higher-priced model with better quality ratings. 


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