And that they should do some business that auto buyers might want to consider, experts say.
Even when we weren’t in an economic crisis, buyers could often find a good deal on a used car in one of the major car rental agencies, including Hertz, Avis or Enterprise.
Car rental companies routinely sell cars, usually after a year or two of service. For example, Enterprise, which also manages the Alamo and National brands, sells one million used cars per year globally, according to a spokesperson.
And they often sell these cars online at affordable prices and at a significant discount to other used car sellers.
When automotive industry analyst Ivan Drury with Edmunds.com tried to buy a used car last year, he bought a 2018 Ford Fusion Hybrid from Avis.
He previously carried out an analysis of used car prices in 2017 for his work and found to his surprise that car rental companies were selling their used cars at much lower prices than other used car dealers. Depending on the specific model, buying directly from a rental company rather than a used car dealer could save 5% to 15%, he found.
“In some cases,” he said, “the discounts are so good, I was a little messed up.”
Take advantage of trial periods
All major car rental companies – Hertz, Enterprise, Alamo Avis, Budget and others – list their used rental cars for sale on their websites. Buyers can search the inventories and test drives are typically much more generous than what you can find at typical used car dealers. Drury said he was able to take the car out for hours before deciding to buy it.
Hertz will even take your car for a test drive if you live within 75 miles of one of their rental locations.
But is the car in good condition?
The idea of buying a used rental car makes some people uncomfortable. The car may have had a brutal life. Renters have little incentive to treat a car gently, thought goes. Rental cars often drive more miles in a year than cars owned or rented by an individual.
On the other hand, car rental companies have an incentive to maintain cars well in order to preserve as much value as possible in them and to make sure their customers have no problems with them.
Potential buyers should take advantage of the long trial periods to have the car inspected by a mechanic and make sure it has no hidden problems, said Jon Linkov, editor of Consumer Reports magazine. Rental companies offer “certified” used car programs and promise thorough inspections. But it’s always best to get an independent inspection, Linkov said.
Buyers should also Research vehicles just as they would before buying any used cars, Linkov said. Some used cars are simply better and more reliable than others, regardless of where they are purchased.
He also recommends buying from a major car rental company rather than a smaller operation. This is because smaller car rental companies may sell cars that were already used at the time of purchase.
Check your funding options
Shoppers should also research their funding options before buying, Linkov said.
Again, it’s always a good practice, regardless of where you’re buying the car from. Rental companies often have good financing options for customers with excellent credit – Avis, for example, offers 0% discount and no payment for 45 days – but you could do even better on your own working with a bank or lender.
Hertz and Avis Budget Group did not send requests for answers to specific questions about their operations.
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