There is currently a great deal of furore surrounding ex-rental used cars being sold by dealers as 1 owner vehicles. Technically, of course, they are but as most of us know they will most likely have been driven by a whole host of drivers during their leases. Typically car makers sell fleets of cars directly to the rental companies and then buy them back at an agreed price and mileage at the conclusion of a contract, which can be as short as 3 months but is generally around 9. Some rental companies will also sell their stock directly to the trade who then prepare the cars for retail sale. The problems occur when dealers try to deceive customers who may enquire about the previous ownership. This, in turn, is not helped by the rental companies themselves who use different company names that disguise the fact that the car is an ex-rental. The problem is that there are literally thousands of late plate ex-rental cars on the road and for sale at any given time, and most of the time a buyer will never have a problem, or have cause to worry that they are buying a ‘nail’. The way that these cars are prepared and the long term relationship between rental company, manufacturer and dealer means, unlike the old days, if these cars have been treated badly or are not up to manufacturer approved used car standards then they cannot, or certainly should not, be offered for sale on a dealer forecourt.
This used to be a big problem years ago when dealers could dispose of the V5 registration document and re-tax the vehicle in the new customers name using a V62 document and the buyer would not realise the previous ownership until weeks later. In recent years, however, with much more transparency dealers, because of the stringent checks the cars go through before they arrive with them – often by the RAC and then by their own workshops – have no need to hide the fact that a car may be an ex-rental. There has also been some discussion around the fact that these cars should be worth £000’s less than privately owned vehicles, but ask any trade buyer if they penalise ex-rental cars and most would not even acknowledge the difference. They certainly wouldn’t stop buying them or they would have even less cars than they do at present to put on their displays for sale. Unfortunately this appears to be another case of “bash the car business”. We are all for complete transparency and as long as any dealer clearly explains that the cars they are selling are predominately ex-rental cars then that should be fine. Another point to consider is that because of the sheer volume of ex-rental cars on the road it stands to reason that the chances are a driver will have at some point in time driven or even owned one.
Our simple advice is when looking to buy a used car, if you don’t want an ex-rental car ask the dealer to show you the registration document and if you are not entirely happy with its progeny don’t buy the car. Worse still, if they tell you it isn’t an ex-rental and you find out it is, take the car back and get your money refunded because the car would then have been clearly misdescribed. But, of course, as always make sure you get everything confirmed in writing.
A final point is this; the one point of confidence you can have from buying an ex-rental car is that the mileage will be correct because the rental companies have to warrant the mileage before it goes on sale with a dealer, and if you want to wait for a privately owned car that is fine but as any motor trade operative will tell you that’s no guarantee of a cars quality. Indeed some people just don’t care about their cars and boy does it show!
So don’t be afraid of buying a car like this just ensure that all the relevant checks have been carried out and everything has been documented, because it is a fact that if you buy any popular mainstream car from the likes of Vauxhall, Ford, VW Peugeot or the like there is a very good chance it could be an ex-rental.
Related: Unsuspecting buyers sold former driving school cars – Daily Telegraph