Former daily rental cars: Great deal or avoid at all costs?
Photo: Nick Daly, Digital Vision, Getty Images
Let the rental agency take the initial depreciation hit. It's no secret new cars lose 20-25 per cent of their value in the first year — that's why two-thirds of Canadians favour buying used over new, especially these days. The advantage of buying a rental car is that the vehicle was purchased new at a special fleet price, so it can be resold at a lower price point than a privately purchased model. That's the theory, anyway.
Rental vehicles are maintained better than some private vehicles. Agencies have to take care of their fleet to protect their capital investment. They're also compelled to keep careful maintenance records to protect themselves from lawsuits, since renters get into accidents and sometimes try to blame the car's state of repair. The rental company performs safety inspections and documents maintenance to prove due diligence.
Rental cars are sold at low mileage, typically 40,000 kilometres. This way the agency can maximize its investment by getting a good price for its fleet vehicles before they depreciate too much. Buyers are willing to pay a premium for low-mileage examples. High-mileage rentals go to wholesalers and the cars end up on independent used-car lots — where they're often not identified as former rental vehicles. Look in the glovebox for an emergency roadside assistance sticker from the rental firm.
Some agencies let you try out the car for a few days before you make the decision to buy. There's usually a rental fee for this, but the time and money is well spent since you can satisfy yourself as to the condition of the automatic transmission and air conditioner, as well as other expensive components you couldn't possibly determine from a five-minute spin around the block. It also provides you with the opportunity to get it inspected by a trusted auto technician.
In addition to getting the balance of the new-car warranty, buyers sometimes get a short-term guarantee to fix problems that become immediately apparent. Or there may be a money-back period if you change your mind, a feature that most used-car lots could not or would not duplicate. Extended warranties may also be offered for purchase at a reasonable price. The intent is to alleviate the concerns of consumers who might be wary of buying an ex-rental car after watching Jackass.
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