Any recommended car buying/pricing resources?

Ugh. I just tried to get a quote for my old car. Carmax offered 2k, Carvana offered… are you ready… $400. A floor indeed :slight_smile:


The vehicle I wanted was not common. There were only 3 within the entire region, and 2 of those had options I didn’t want. I got a quote that was a couple of hundred bucks lower than my hoped for price. I spoke with the dealer and he told me that he only had to do a dealer trade to get it. Of course, the dealer who had the vehicle had already quoted me on it (+$1300), and he wouldn’t let the other dealer have it. I ended up searching for another year before finding a used one at a decent price.

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That doesn’t mean people don’t smoke in rental cars.

Someone also doesn’t need to smoke IN the car to contaminate it. They just need to have smoke residue on their person.

Part of the challenge is it has to be bad enough that they can’t just claim it was “already like that”, even if the rental place is trying to police it. Also to be fair to enterprise, I haven’t rented in my city before, so maybe it’s not just an enterprise problem. At a minimum the cabin air filters all need to be changed, and some of the other rental agencies probably do some pretty harsh chemical treatments to remove or mask smoke in the interior after a smoker rental (which might not be healthy either ).

Like most things is YMMV and also geographic location specific, didn’t mean to imply at all it’s not a good idea to buy a rental car. I sat in the only available 4 cars at the location and 3 were terrible. Of course the agent said “I don’t smell any smoke. That must be the ‘new car smell’ [in this car with 40k miles on it]”. I got the one that was least bad, happened to also have the least miles (13k) and cost the most to rent. But still some smoke.

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It’s not just Enterprise, who I haven’t used in a few years. The last couple of cars I’ve rented (from Alamo and Avis) had a strong smell of smoke. The one from Avis smelled strongly of pot - so strongly that I suspected it was an employee. In each case, I just moved on to the next full size in the lot.

Same with our rental from National last week at JFK. Got bags loaded into the full size and it smelled of smoke. I didn’t think it was that bad, but wife and kids said it was. Had my wife find another car that didn’t smell while I unloaded the bags (5 suitcases). She found one that was good which happened to be the next one she tried and off we went.

I believe that was the first time we have ever gotten a smoke car in the 6 or 7 times we have rented in the last year. I will just have to remember to start smelling the car next time before I load up all of the bags. :wink:

Pot or pot smoke? If the former, it was probably recently used by a dealer for a long distance transport. If the latter, it was probably the boyfriend of the last girl that rented it.

That’s based on my law enforcement background dealing with a lot of people driving rented cars. Check with any rental car agency clerk and I’m pretty sure they’d tell you the same thing too.

I don’t know how much of a discount you can get buying a former rental car vs. a fleet vehicle or other used car, but it would have to be pretty significant for me to ever consider buying a former rental car.

Yes I have had that same issue when sending out a wide inquiry like that… Dealer trades become difficult because the other dealer “thinks” he has someone interested in the car.

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The word “maintained” was carefully chosen, meaning specifically regular maintenance, oil changes, etc. I suspect that is true of older cars requiring maintenance on a prescribed schedule.

You certainly wouldn’t use the word “treated” here, would you? I know I’ve driven rentals cars on paths that would be flattered to be called “roads.” I’m talking about places that the rabbits wouldn’t go. Similarly for attention to early warning signs that unscheduled maintenance is needed.

Agreed. I think I have posted this here before, but I did this about 8 years ago. I am still driving it everyday to work. It’s been a great car.

Not sure if folks realize but most rental cars being sold like this are very new still in terms of years. I looked by mileage. If the miles are lower (based on your criteria, of course), you’re generally in good shape.

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People who claim it’s a good idea to buy rental cars: People who sell rental cars, people who bought rental cars

People who claim it’s a bad idea to buy rental cars: Mechanics and pretty much everyone else that has ever rented a car

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FYI for anyone thinking about this being a selling point for a former rental… the carfax reported repair records for a rental are much more sparse than for other cars (and they’re not great for other cars either). Do NOT depend on a carfax when trying to determine if a rental has been wrecked.

certified what? anyone can take a dump in a box and mark it certified.

Very few rental cars are kept in the rental fleet for less than a year, so I don’t know where the heck this figure could have come from. Now you’re just making things up.

Look, I get that you like your car and you got a good deal. I’m not knocking your car, so please don’t take this personally. There is a reason that when you google “buying a rental car,” all the positive articles are trying to convince you that it’s not as bad as everyone says, and they’re on sites whose main affiliation is with dealers and used car lots. And when you google “why not to buy a rental car” you get articles and videos from mechanics, lemon law attorneys, and car enthusiasts.

Have you ever heard of the term “sales puffery”? That’s what is on the website you just linked. I’m sorry for saying you made up the 12 month thing. You didn’t, you’re just taking their word for it. Forgive me for not believing a thing out of the mouth of a used car dealer, let alone a used rental car dealer.

And most of those arguments are theoretical. For the lack of a better word, fearmongering based on anecdots.

I’d say that in reality, any of the problems that “plague” former rental cars are just as much of risk with any used car. The people who truly take better care of their car are those intending to drive it for life - in which case, it’s not on the market for you to buy anyways.


I looked at a used car, that had previously been a rental. It was sold by the rental company less than 6 months after being put into service in Florida. Within a month after a significant hurricane.

Needless to say, I steered clear. But not because of it being a former rental, or anything specific that the CarFax listed. That’s where the value of such documentation comes into play.

9,323 total cars
2,423 are 2017 or older
6,219 are 2018
681 are 2019

It’s the middle of the year, so it isn’t the best time to do the calculation. If it were December or January, we would have a better idea. So we have to make an assumption. If you assume that half of the 6,219 2018s were bought over a year ago, and the other half were bought less than a year ago, that would mean that 59% of their cars for sale are over 1 year old and 41% are under a year old. They don’t sell many cars older than 2 years old, but saying their average time in fleet is 12 months is a slight understatement. It looks like that article you posted saying 4-22 months with an average closer to 13 months seems accurate.

So I will concede that it was silly for me to argue the point that the cars are only kept for 12 months. It’s close enough. I will not concede that those cars don’t get run ragged for the 4-22 months that they are rentals, and that anyone buying a former rental should aim to get a significant discount over a comparable privately owned or leased vehicle.

There is definitely some value in a carfax. However, any assumption you made about that car relating to a hurricane is just that, an assumption. The fact that it was put into service in Florida doesn’t tell you much about where it was driven considering it was a rental car. If the services performed on the car showed as FL, that would tell you more about where it was driven. Click on a few of those carfax links on the enterprise site and you’ll see several cars that are registered in one place and serviced somewhere else, along with a ton of cars with no service records at all. Which, of course, doesn’t mean a car wasn’t serviced. It just means it isn’t on the carfax. You definitely used your limited information wisely, but for people that don’t know much about carfax, I like to stress that the pertinent word is LIMITED. Carfaxes are extremely limited. A carfax showing routine maintenance and no accidents is great, but it doesn’t mean the car wasn’t wrecked and repainted. A carfax service record listed as a car wash doesn’t mean that was the only thing done - it could have undergone a serious repair that didn’t get entered. A carfax showing an engine replacement doesn’t actually mean the engine was replaced. Carfax records can show up over a year later as well. These are all things I have seen first hand on carfaxes.

This is true. But I think rentals in general are seen as more risky because so many more people drive them while they’re in service. If you assume 1 in 10 people will drive terribly and damage their car, and/or smoke, you figure 10% of used cars have related issues. But if the rental has had 100(s) of drivers, the odds approach 100% that at least one of them was bad to the vehicle.

The same applies to regional weather/storm(floods)/climate(road salt) issues, since many rentals don’t stay in one particular location. Whereas most people don’t travel / move every month in their personal vehicles. They stay in one place and the car registration shows which state they are residing (unless they fraudulently register it).

Always exceptions though (maybe someone rented it for 6 months, etc. Maybe it stayed at one single rental location.). A bit off topic though other than the initial suggestion to check rental sales, which is much appreciated.

One of the best reasons not to buy a former rental is mentioned in both of those videos: the manufacturer knows when building the cars which ones are being purchased as part of a rental fleet and those cars are sometimes built more cheaply than cars that will be sold on a dealership lot.

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Thinking back on my experiences driving a rental car:

  1. Had the engine check light come on intermittently but it happened not to be on when I drove it into rental car return.

  2. Had difficulty starting it every dang time I went to start it.

  3. Drove it in parts of Maui that said “Do NOT drive this rental car there”.

  4. Drove it up a “road” in the mountain wilderness while looking for a hiking trail. Turns out that was the hiking trail. :slight_smile:

The stories go on and on. Somehow it didn’t occur to me to mention these things when I turned the car in. And I’m a generally good guy! I hate to think what other people do to rental cars. You would be very naive to think that any sort of mechanical inspection is done when cars are returned.

So I stand by what I was asserting, and that is the a rental car is more likely to be abused than a one-owner used car for sale by owner. The latter is the only way I’d ever buy a used car.

That said, anyone who buys any used car from any source and doesn’t have a real mechanic (not your cousin’s neighbor that knows a lot about cars) is taking excessive risks.

P.S. I don’t deny that any one person has good luck buying rental cars.

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