I just found out the car (2006 model) I looked at the dealership's used to be a rental car. Help me understand/decide.
January 7, 2008 9:44 AM   Subscribe

I just found out the car (2006 model) I looked at the dealership's used to be a rental car. Help me understand/decide.

They dropped the price by about $1000 from the KB suggested price. But I just ran the VIN number through google and found a report that lists two things that bother me:

1. It was previously a rental car. 2. It was purchased/used in a different state than the one I'm in and looking at it right now.

What does this mean for me as far as negotiating the price down? The salesperson told me that they had the car on their lot for about a month and that it was a "trade in".

posted by icarus to Travel & Transportation (14 answers total)
Can you get a trusted mechanic to inspect it? Your two bothers don't give me any red flags. Negotiation is not limited by its history, but by how much you're willing to pay. PS -- the title doesn't show up on MeFi listings straight off the page, suggesting include title text in the question if it contains info not otherwise present =)
posted by vanoakenfold at 9:57 AM on January 7, 2008

There are (of course) two ways to think about a rental car:

a. It was serviced regularly
b. It was throttled to shit by 10-20% of the people who rented it.

I'm in camp B. Your dealer is probably lying. I'd suggest trying to lowball the hell out of them, and walking if unsuccessful. Thing is, there are a lot of cars in the world. There will be another one that you like, I'm pretty sure.

And remember that someday when you try to re-sell it, the next buyer may also care that the car was a rental.
posted by Kwantsar at 10:03 AM on January 7, 2008

Based on what I saw working for Budget one summer in college - I'd never buy a used rental car. However, I have heard that the rental firms take much better care of the cars than they did back in the dark ages of the 80s though.
posted by COD at 10:22 AM on January 7, 2008

I bought a rental car in 2001 (a toyota), and never had a problem with it (it was 8 month old)
I resold it a year later at a good price.
just thought I'd share that experience...
posted by motdiem2 at 10:59 AM on January 7, 2008

Seconding the "throttled to shit" angle. I rent a lot of cars every year and can tell you that they get put through the wringer. I suppose though, that it is based on miles, how it drives, current condition and the make/year. Personally, anything by Toyota or Honda would be a better bet because they are engineered so much better than American cars (in my opinion) and can take more of a beating.

Good luck.
posted by zerobyproxy at 11:31 AM on January 7, 2008

I bought a Chrylser in 1998 with 15,000 miles on it, and aside from wheel bearings (which it ate like candy) it wasn't a bad vehicle, I drove it for about 8 years.

I don't think people abuse rental cars nearly as much as people think they do. After all, if you beat the hell out of it, you're responsible for any damage you cause to it.
posted by inthe80s at 11:58 AM on January 7, 2008

It was serviced regularly

Actually, not at all. I talked to a mechanic guy driving me back about that. They don't keep 'em long enough to really have to service them, nor does it make time/money sense to pull them out of service to do so.
posted by panamax at 12:01 PM on January 7, 2008

you're responsible for any damage you cause to it.

Only if they can pin it on you, ie. a dented bumper or something. Even then, I get the waiver thing so I don't have to worry about that.
posted by panamax at 12:02 PM on January 7, 2008

The salesperson told me that they had the car on their lot for about a month and that it was a "trade in".

If I read this correctly, the salesdrone has lied to you about the nature of the car's prior use. Forget the car, run like hell from those you know a re lying to you about the car they're trying to sell you.

After all, if you beat the hell out of it, you're responsible for any damage you cause to it.

The visible damage. Excess wear and tear caused by hard starts & stops, etc. may not be charged to anyone nor repaired. Unlike cars whose owners drive them on a regular basis, a renal car may have a problem all year long and never get noticed or complained about, because the drivers are not familiar with what that vehicle is supposed to run like.

I have a friend who until recently was an exec at a major rental car company. When she left that job and had to buy herself a car, she went for a brand-new Honda Accord. She could have easily bought a used car is she had wanted to, but she knew better.

(She also told me that rental car companies make all their profit on selling their year-old fleets every year- the rental part of the business just fills the gap.)
posted by mikewas at 12:12 PM on January 7, 2008

My wife worked for Budget Rent a Car and she heard some horror stories from the early days but when we were buying a "fleet vehicle" at an auction she said not to worry about it anymore. Now most rental companies (except Enterprise*) lease their vehicles and they have to stick to a strict maintenance schedule in order to get their full trade in value at the end of the lease. As far as it being from another state Budget sells all their "Fords" back to "Ford" and then "Ford" distributes them around the country where-ever they think they'll sell better. I'm sure it's the same for the other rental companies.

*A note about Enterprise - They own their fleet so they can rent the vehicles much longer, however, because they own them and have to re-sell them they generally have better vehicles and are much pickier about dings and scratches then most other companies. I don't know how they are on maintenance since they don't have to do trade-ins.

I concur with the Toyota/Honda philosophy and I would add Hyundai (the Sonata only) Consumer Reports ranks all of those very well.
posted by thewalrusispaul at 12:19 PM on January 7, 2008

I rebuilt a car wash for Enterprise, and based on the damage they did to the carwash machine itself, and the number of broken-off parts (antennae, wipers, hubcaps, bumper inserts, moldings) littering the wash bay, I'd never buy a car of theirs. Best we could tell, the workers had a contest to see who had the biggest balls by driving through the bay the fastest, and we estimated 40 mph.
posted by notsnot at 12:36 PM on January 7, 2008

FYI: Previously
posted by davey_darling at 12:44 PM on January 7, 2008

Just because I'm thinking about it. If you buy a japanese car from a rental company, chances are it doesn't matter if the oil has been changed. From what I read, in japan, emissions requirements (or something else, I don't know for sure) ensure that the motors are replaced every three years. The cars are thus designed to go for that long with no oil changes whatsoever.

Or at least that's what the tuners who buy motors from Japan say.

If that's true, if you get the car after a year, does it really matter if the oil has been changed or not? I doubt it.

The only issue I'd be concerned with is the lack of decent treatment during the break-in period, although that is supposedly much less of an issue than it used to be.

BTW, I beat the shit out of every car I drive, rentals and my own. They seem to not care. Of course, I don't race them, just accelerate quickly and drive fast. ;) The Avalon I rented from Hertz a couple of weeks back was a very nice car, with only 700 miles on it when I got it. I'd buy it. :p
posted by wierdo at 5:46 PM on January 7, 2008

I am a pretty sensible, perhaps even meek, driver. But I am not gentle on rental cars. Isn't that why you get the extra insurance? I think of it as an experiment for things I would never do in my own car. Or maybe COULD do in my own car, because with a 1998 Cavalier I am just happy it runs at all.
posted by amfea at 9:01 PM on January 8, 2008

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