Car Buying from Hertz
June 7, 2020 11:05 AM   Subscribe

I need to help my elderly mom buy a reliable and safe car. Purchasing a used car from Hertz Car Sales seems like a good option but I need help with the details. More inside.

The current thought is to buy a 2017 Toyota Corolla with about 80,000 miles on it for $10,500 from Hertz Car Sales as that car seems to tick all the boxes for her.

My mom is in a high-risk category for CV-19, so the less she is interacting with people, the better. Fortunately, I am available to do most of the legwork, and Hertz offers a home delivery option where we could do all the paperwork from home. She approves of the 2017 Corolla and also trusts me so her overall involvement in the process can be minimal.

As the Corollas we are considering are higher-mileage vehicles, they do not appear eligible for the Rent-to-Buy option. The website refers to a 7 day buyback period, so we could buy the car and take it to our trusted mechanic to check out and give us the All Clear. If he finds a problem with it, we in theory could return the car to Hertz for a refund, minus $200 in fees. The handful of cars we are considering currently display only stock photos of the cars online.

My questions:

- Do you see any flaws or red flags in this plan?
- How should I be more careful or thorough in checking out the car beforehand? For example, how important is it for me to go in person to review the car first?
- Is it worth asking to see the service records, which would have to be done in person?
- Given their current financial situation, how else might Hertz be more accommodating with information or service to help close the sale?
- Any warnings to pass on based on your experience returning a car to Hertz?
- Basically, what more should I be doing or thinking of to prevent future regret?

Also, if there are any concrete thoughts about Hertz's recent Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Am I buying a car that's been sitting around for months, and if so, how bad is that?

We are in California, in case that makes a difference. Thanks in advance for any insights that will help me help my mom, MeFi!
posted by Goblin Barbarian to Travel & Transportation around Coffeyville, KS (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Am I buying a car that's been sitting around for months, and if so, how bad is that?

Almost certainly, but because travel dried up, not because of the bankruptcy. Three or four months of sitting around is generally not a big deal with a car (especially if the gas was topped up, which it almost certainly was) , so I wouldn't make that a determining factor.

$10.5K feels like a lot for a 3 year old car with 80K on it. A quick search near me shows one with less than half the milage for $12K, so I'd be inclined to negotiate the price down.

Used rental cars have somewhat of an undeserved bad rep because they can be higher mileage. IME, this is less of a problem than personal cars because they tend to be better maintained than personal cars. But the mileage does wear down parts which will increase the maintenance costs and decrease the life expectancy of the car, so I'd see if there's some wiggle room. Does Hertz provide documentation on what kind of service has been done on their used cars?

A last thought - if you're limited on time, it may be worth paying a little extra.

Is it worth asking to see the service records, which would have to be done in person?

They can totally email this to you, if they choose to.
posted by Candleman at 12:08 PM on June 7, 2020 [1 favorite]

In terms of visiting the car in person, I found that when I bought my current car from Hertz that price differences between cars of the same year/model were all down to cosmetics. I was quite happy to save $$ because of a couple of minor dings, but you may want to investigate if this matters to you or you mom.
posted by thomas j wise at 2:21 PM on June 7, 2020 [1 favorite]

80K is right around where that sort of car might need tires (though maybe rentals get replaced significantly before complete wear out?). At any rate one thing to ask about or be aware of if you can personally see the car before spending any money. New set of tires is going to run 8-15 hundred dollars depending on size and type.

Having been parked for a few months is nothing. If the battery has been allowed deep discharge with a residual load they can sulfate so change it if it won't hold a charge.
posted by Mitheral at 5:46 PM on June 7, 2020 [1 favorite]

If you aren't wedded to the idea of a Toyota Corolla only then LA Hertz Car Sales shows a Nissan Versa with 45K miles for $8350.

The 80K milage would be a concern for me, but not the "sitting on the lot."
posted by blob at 6:54 PM on June 7, 2020 [1 favorite]

You might also check Avis and Enterprise for Los Angeles. Both have trial periods, and Enterprise offers a Toyota Corola with 55K miles for $11599
posted by blob at 7:07 PM on June 7, 2020 [1 favorite]

80K mileage on a Japanese car is nothing to be concerned about. That's just getting broken-in.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:03 AM on June 8, 2020 [2 favorites]

My son bought a Hertz Corolla, and it didn't go well. The car had a bent rim, which they reluctantly replaced, but some other repairs they promised were never performed. The required technicians were always unavailable, and blah & blah. Obviously, this is one dealer, but you can't rely on the Corolla's good reputation; those rental cars do get abused.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 12:28 PM on June 8, 2020

No one who's ever driven a rental car has had any interest in taking care of it or driving it carefully. I would be extremely hesitant to buy a used rental car to the point where it would be one of the last sources I would ever look to for a used car. What about CarMax?

I would also strongly recommend you not buy the car without first taking it to your mechanic. If the dealer won't let you get the car inspected before you buy it, find a dealer who will.

There are definitely ways to complete the transaction while your mom stays home. For example, you could act as her proxy for the sale. You could get her signatures on the paperwork notarized. She could get the loan, transfer the money to you to buy the car and then you sell her the car for $1. Have a friend help you pick up the car, or hire someone from TaskRabbit.

A salesperson who wants your business - and probably needs it right now - should be willing to help you find a way to do this that works for all of you.
posted by bendy at 7:38 PM on June 8, 2020

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