Does a Prior Rental Car Make a Good Used Car?

August 6th, 2016 by
Prior rental cars as used cars

There are several good reasons why prior rental cars are good used cars, and one main reason why they might not be.


Each and every year, thousands and thousands of cars are shifted out of rental fleets and into the used car market. They’re literally everywhere, although when you’re on a used car lot it’s not always immediately apparent whether or not the car used to be a rental. Do rental cars make for good used cars? The best answer is yes, but not always. There are several good reasons why they are most likely good choices, and only one main reason why they might not be. As with many things in life, it depends!

Pros: Maintenance, miles, models

Rental companies need to keep their cars in good working order to keep their customers satisfied. This means that generally rental cars are well maintained. In fact, rental companies are often a lot stricter about sticking to recommended maintenance schedules than many consumers. And they tend to not hang onto them for all that long, so they often have pretty low miles (usually in the 25,000-30,000 range). And it’s also important to note that the vast majority of rentals are for driving long distances, so the chances are good that those miles are highway miles as opposed to stop-and-go city traffic. That makes a huge difference. When you start looking at used rental cars, what you’re looking at are late-model, low-miles, well-maintained vehicles. Sounds pretty good, right? That’s the point! You may even find that there’s still a good chunk of the factory warranty left on the car, which is just additional peace of mind for you.

Con: The mystery of how it was driven

The only significant drawback to purchasing a used prior rental car is that you simply have no way of knowing how it was driven by potentially dozens if not hundreds of customers. Each one may have driven it gently and with respect, or aggressively in ways that caused abnormally early wear on the vehicle. For some people, that’s a deal-breaker right there, but it shouldn’t be.

Typically, the only way you can make an accurate, fair judgment about a used car is by taking it to your most trusted mechanic and having them give it a thorough inspection. Some people are willing to pay $150 to their go-to mechanic because they want the peace of mind that they’re buying a solid used car with no major issues. At Auto City, we’ve already done that thorough inspection because it’s part of what we do with every car we take on. Only the best used cars can make it onto our lot, which is why we even offer a three-day money-back guarantee.

Some car history reports often will list a car’s status as a prior rental. CARFAX is one that does if it is reported, and that just happens to be the company Auto City uses for all its car history reports, so you’ll know if the car that interests you used to be a rental car or not. That’s just one of the many ways Auto City makes shopping for used cars in San Diego better for you!