Should You Buy a Former Rental Car? Unveiling the Pros and Cons

Should You Buy a Former Rental Car? Unveiling the Pros and Cons

While shopping for a used car, you might come across listings mentioning vehicles that were formerly used as rental cars. But is it a good idea to buy one? While your snap judgment may be that rental vehicles have likely been misused by a number of nonowners, or that they’ve seen unusually high usage for their model year, there are a number of benefits to investing in a rental fleet vehicle. Let’s dissect the advantages and disadvantages to try and help you make an informed decision.

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Pros of buying a former rental car

Well-maintained fleet

Rental companies have a reputation to uphold and are liable if their vehicles break down or experience a mechanical failure that leads to an accident. It’s in their best interest to service their cars regularly to ensure safety and reliability. So when you get a rental vehicle, there’s a good chance it was cared for meticulously.

Lower prices

Because they’re generally considered less desirable than a privately-owned used car, rental car companies are generally looking to turn over a large number of vehicles with as little fuss and time investment as possible, former rental cars typically have a more attractive price tag than comparable non-rental used cars. But if you’re on a budget, these cars are usually priced lower than the same vehicle that wasn’t formerly a rental. Checking our vehicle market value tool can give you a better understanding of what you’re getting into.

Recent model vehicles

Rental companies tend to update their fleets regularly. This means most former rental cars on the market are newer models, often with contemporary features, though they often the feature packages and trim levels are the most basic offered for a particular make/model. Our VIN decoder can help you find out the original equipment options a used car came with from the factory!

Thoroughly inspected

Before selling, many rental companies subject their cars to rigorous mechanical and cosmetic inspections and sometimes even refurbish them to a certified pre-owned (CPO) standard.

No haggling

Most large rental companies will sell vehicles with little to no haggling, as they have a prescribed process in place for reselling fleet vehicles and want to move through it as quickly as possible. This may work out in your favor if you’re looking for a simple, streamlined purchasing experience.

Added warranty coverage

Rental companies will sometimes provide additional warranty coverage with vehicles they resell. It’s commonplace for major national companies to add an additional 12 months of powertrain coverage. Because these vehicles are generally on the newer side, they may also still have some of the manufacturer’s warranty coverage available at the time of purchase.

Cons of buying a former rental car

High mileage

Rental cars, due to their nature of use, often accumulate miles faster than privately owned vehicles. High mileage can be a concern for some buyers, but tools like our car depreciation calculator can give insights into a former rental car’s loss of value over time. Mileage is a factor that can be somewhat alleviated by proper maintenance and servicing, which is often the case for rental vehicles.

Wear and tear

People don’t always treat rental cars with the utmost care. These vehicles might’ve faced harsh driving conditions or been abused by the drivers that rented them, leading to more wear and tear than its privately owned counterpart—especially if you’re considering a convertible, sports car, or even pickup truck that was a former rental. As with any vehicle, it’s important to research a used car’s accident and repair history, and this is especially important for rental cars.

Limited history

That said, although rental companies are forced to maintain their fleets in order to make money on the vehicles they rent, not every minor incident or fender bender might be on its record, especially if the repair work is done at one of their own facilities. This is where a vehicle history report becomes vital.

Potentially out of warranty

If you do end up with a high-mileage vehicle, as is often the case with rental cars, even though it may be a newer model year it may have already exceeded the manufacturer’s mileage-based warranty coverage. You also need to carefully examine any fine print to ensure that the warranty is transferable across multiple owners, which is not always the case. 

Generic features

Rental cars are often the base or mid-trim level version of most models, and are going to come without many additional features or customizations, so don’t expect leather interiors, big infotainment screens, premium sound systems, or other goodies. This is also partly why they’re going to be less expensive than a similar car for sale that wasn’t a rental!


While former rental cars present an attractive, budget-friendly option, they come with their own set of considerations. By leveraging tools like our VIN or license plate lookup, potential buyers may be able to get a clearer picture of a vehicle’s history, including by finding out whether it was a rental car or not.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are rental cars more prone to mechanical issues?

Not necessarily. Rental companies usually maintain their vehicles diligently. However, the driving habits of renters can cause more wear and tear. Always get a thorough mechanical check before buying.

Can I trust a rental car's vehicle history report?

Rental companies usually maintain their cars, but minor incidents might not be recorded. It’s always a good move to try out our vehicle history report and branded title check, and to have any used vehicle inspected by a trusted mechanic. Be sure to tell your mechanic that the car in question is a formal rental, as that may affect the scope and focus of the inspection.

Do former rental cars come with warranties?

Many rental companies refurbish their cars to CPO standards, which come with extended warranties, and newer rental vehicles may still have the original manufacturer coverage included (particularly if they’re lower mileage). Always ask about the warranty when considering a former rental.

Are there any popular models that fare better as former rentals?

The Toyota Camry, Ford Escape, and Hyundai Sonata are popular in rental fleets and are known for their reliability even after serving as rentals. Broadly speaking, hybrid vehicles are also generally more reliable than their traditional counterparts, and worth considering if a rental company’s fleet has any available.

About Bumper

At Bumper, we are on a mission to bring vehicle history reports and ownership up to speed with modern times. A vehicle is one of the most expensive purchases you'll likely make, and you deserve to have access to the same tools and information the pros use to make the right decisions.

About Alan Bradley

Alan Bradley is an experienced tech writer and journalist, and has been covering the auto industry in a freelance capacity for more than a decade. He’s brand agnostic, owning cars from manufacturers both foreign and domestic, and currently owns an EV (a Nissan Leaf). Alan is a huge proponent of sustainability and carbon neutral manufacturing, and is a massive fan of Formula One and Formula E. He received his Bachelors of English Literature from the University of Buffalo at Amherst.

Disclaimer: The above is solely intended for informational purposes and in no way constitutes legal advice or specific recommendations.