If you buy used rental cars from a car rental company, you can often get a much better deal than at a used car lot. Car rental companies must maintain their cars very well to stay in business, and they are willing to sell their used cars for less than most dealers or private owners. This means that a car you buy from a rental company is likely to be both cheaper and in better condition than one you get from a private owner. The rental car mileage will also likely be less than used cars from private owners.
Try Rental Car Company Websites
Look on the websites of all local rental companies for deals on used cars. The companies that are selling their used cars will make it obvious on their website. For each rental company, look for the type you want in the list of used cars being sold. Once you have located a few places with the model you want for sale, compare the prices. This is the most important part of getting your used car for the lowest possible price.
Get a list of the inventory before the sale, if possible. You may find that some rental car sales are handled by dedicated dealerships, much like the haggle-free approach taken by Enterprise Car Sales. However, other rental car sales are channeled through public auctions. Getting a list of the inventory before you visit will allow you to determine fair market pricing for vehicles of interest.
Go to the Sale
Once you have compared all the cars of the model you want, go to the company that has that model for the lowest price. This may or may not be at the rental location. Ask about the one you want, and a salesperson will come out to talk to you.
Inspect the Car
When you arrive at a used rental car sale, inspect any vehicles of interest. If possible, see if you can get the keys and start the cars from a cold start. This will allow you to hear how easily the cars start from cold and it will also give you time to try out all of the electronics and accessories on the car.
You may choose to complete a thorough inspection of the vehicle yourself, but if you don't feel comfortable doing, this you can enlist the services of an area mechanic. A trained eye may find faults that a casual driver could miss, and the relatively low cost of a mechanic's inspection can keep you from making an expensive mistake.
Check the Service Record
Ask for a service record, if available. Rental car agencies are known for the meticulous maintenance of their cars, but it's helpful to have a printed record. You may also find that a major service was skipped. This can occur if a vehicle is on a long term rental for several months.
Go for a Test Drive
Take the vehicle on a long test drive that is representative of your daily drive. Be sure to drive on side streets and freeways and in a style that is similar to your daily commute. If things inside the vehicle feel loose or worn, make note of this. Some rental cars are driven very hard by renters, and this can result in interior panels showing damage or the vehicle driving sluggishly.
Find out about the Warranty
Ask about the manufacturer's factory warranty. As long as the vehicle has a clean title, the bumper-to-bumper and power train warranties should remain intact. If the vehicle is outside of regular warranty coverage, ask your salesperson about extended warranty choices.
You may be able to work the price down lower than it says on the price tag. Remember that the salesman probably wants to sell you the car even more than you want to buy it. Make sure to ask about any discounts you may be eligible for, and do not seem too eager to buy.