Should I Buy a Rental Car?

On the face of it, it might seem like there is exactly zero difference between buying a used rental car and any other used car. What difference does it make if the car was previously owned by a private individual or a rental company? The mileage is, after all, there for you to see, and, whether appraised professionally at a dealership or with your own expertise, the condition of the car is usually pretty apparent too. You might even think that the stricter regimen of maintenance and cleaning that allows a rental car to be leased again and again would mean that an ex-rental is, if anything, the better option. But things are not quite as simple as that. 

The major car rental companies buy around two million cars each year. And after a period of eighteen to twenty-four months, those cars are usually sold. This represents a quite staggeringly high automobile turnover on the part of rental companies, and logic would seem to dictate that the used car market must be flooded with these ex-rental cars. Indeed, it is. And if you have bought a used car, the chances of it being ex-rental are pretty high. In fact, it is estimated that around 1 in 5 cars on the road are ex-rentals. 

Sometimes, It Doesn’t Matter 

Rental or otherwise, what leads to good price on a car is very much down to the dealership. If you are looking to sell your used car in Sacramento, for example, dealerships like Cash for Cars in Sacramento make use of their access to a network of nationwide dealerships, allowing the best price to be fetched by working with various local markets across the country. This is a far more influential price-setting factor than whether a car is an ex-rental or not (and in many cases, you won’t even know whether it is or not). 

That said, there are still significant differences between cars that have been used by a single private owner and cars that have been cycling through a series of short-term leases. And this can affect several aspects of that car beyond simply the price you pay for it. So if you are ever privy to this information and are faced with the prospect of buying an ex-rental, should you go for it? There have been conflicting opinions on this matter, so it’s best to turn to the facts in the absence of a single, definitive answer. 


The major pro of investing in an ex-rental car is that you can be fairly sure they will be cheaper and newer. Rental companies buy their cars very cheap (often in bulk) and as a result those savings are reflected in the price they are ultimately sold for. As mentioned, they are also typically sold after a maximum of two years, meaning that they tend to be newer as well. 

You can also expect ex-rentals to have been taken care of a little better than cars of the same age which are not ex-rentals. This is simply because rental companies typically run a very efficient system of regular maintenance of their vehicle stock. 


There are two main cons to buying an ex-rental car. Firstly, you can expect them to have a higher mileage than similarly aged cars by simple virtue of having been used more. However, remember to take note that rentals usually receive regular and top-notch maintenance. 

The second disadvantage of rental cars is simply that the more prestigious brands are very rarely represented. You can expect savings on Fords and Nissans, but you might be out of luck finding an ex-rental BMW.

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