Last Updated on November 30, 2023 by Kristin

used car was a rental car
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With companies like Avis, Hertz and Enterprise selling chunks of their fleets curing the coronavirus pandemic, many used car lots now contain vehicles that may have had a previous life as a rental car. These cars can often be a great deal, but you need to do your due diligence. Here’s how to find out if a used car was ever a rental car.

Check the Vehicle’s History

The first way to check whether a used vehicle had a past life is to check its history online.

First, find the unique vehicle identification number (VIN) of the car you’re looking to buy. This 17-character code serves as the key to unlocking the car’s history. The seller should be able to give you this number, or you can look for it on the car’s windshield or interior.

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Next, choose a website to look up the rental’s history. Some popular options are Carfax, AutoCheck, VehicleHistory and VinCheck. Some of these sites charge a fee for the report, while others are free. Paying more typically provides a more comprehensive picture of the car’s history and an assessment of whether it is worth buying.

Should You Buy a Former Rental Car?

Whether you should buy a rental vehicle depends on several factors, including but not limited to:

Price: Is the vehicle significantly cheaper than other used cars on the lot? With many rental companies downsizing their fleets, you still need to check the vehicle report to make sure the car is priced fairly based on its history.

Age of the vehicle, mileage and warranty: A vehicle may have racked up significant miles from over its short lifetime. Or, it could be a lightly-used vehicle. Again, look at the vehicle report to assess whether the deal is as good as it seems. Also, consider the type of warranty offered with the used vehicle.

Maintenance history: Has the car needed significant repairs or does it have any other known issues? Non-rental cars can also have issues, such as having been in a fire or flood.

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Special features: Rental cars tend to be standard, without tons of bells and whistles. Don’t expect to see top-of-the-line vehicles with a ton of upscale options. A used rental vehicle might not be the best option if you’ve got your heart set on special features like leather seats or a sunroof.

Where to Buy a Former Rental Car

It’s always best to compare prices, warranties and car selections. Very often, rental companies often offer attractive financing options, low, “no-haggle” prices, comprehensive warranties and the option to test drive the vehicle for several days.

Avis Car Sales: The used car arm of Avis allows you to search the make, models, styles and prices of cars available near your home.

Hertz Car Sales: In the wake of Hertz’s bankruptcy, Hertz Car Sales locations have temporarily closed. Plans to reopen these locations remains uncertain.

Enterprise Car Sales: Enterprise is another good place to land a good buy, especially considering that it has a section of its website dedicated to 2020 models.

Sixt Car Sales: Finally, Sixt sells a range of brands, including higher-end names like Cadillac and Jaguar.