Former daily rental cars: Great deal or avoid at all costs?
Photo: Eddie Hironaka, Photographer's Choice, Getty Images
The ins and outs of buying a former rental
Johnny Knoxville didn't do the rental-car resale business any favours by destroying a perfectly serviceable Ford Contour in the opening moments of his 2002 movie, Jackass. The lily-white sedan was smashed beyond recognition after Knoxville entered the rental car in a demolition derby.
Beyond the entertainment value, the scene confirmed for many consumers the view that rental vehicles suffer almost ungodly abuse in the hands of rental clients, making the eventual buyer of any rental vehicle a hapless victim.
All the more reason to scrutinize a used rental car as thoroughly as any other used-vehicle purchase, advises George Iny, president of the Montreal-based Automobile Protection Association, a consumer watchdog of all things automotive. He says that while rental cars receive regular maintenance under the care of the rental agency, it's unseen collision damage that's the real hazard for shoppers.
"The primary concern is non-reporting of collision damage on daily rentals," says Iny, noting that dealers are sometimes keen to demonstrate a "clean" car by showing "no claims reported" on a third-party report. "But here's the rub: CarProof doesn't collect collision data from daily rental companies." He recommends taking the vehicle to an independent garage to perform a pre-purchase mechanical check. "A daily rental is a used car and needs used-car precautions," he underscores.
Thousands of used rental cars are sold annually in Canada, since the business model requires agencies to dispose of one- and two-year-old models once they've racked up 30,000 to 50,000 kilometres. Many go to wholesale auctions and on to used-car lots, while especially well-kept cars and trucks are "remarketed" by the rental company or, more likely in Canada, by new-car dealers as part of their used-car operations.
Let's run down the pros and cons of buying an ex-rental car or truck.
A 1967 Shelby GT500 Super Snake sold for $1.3 million. Do you think classic cars were made better than modern rides?
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- Yes, the quality of cars from the 1960s and '70s is the best
- No, modern technology makes cars better today
- Maybe, it's hard to say since most Canadians get a new car every 10 years