Recent years have seen the introduction of a new wave of car bargain. While car hire companies purchase their trusty, shiny new fleets from car manufacturers with discounts for bulk purchases, they must also keep their shiny new fleets, well, shiny and new. But where do these young cars go once they’ve lost their sparkle?
Over the last ten years, the sale of obsolete rental cars (usually deemed obsolete at about two or three years old sometimes even after just 6 to 12 months) through second-hand car dealerships has become a booming business. With nationwide car rental companies perpetually having to match competition and fight to keep their customers coming back for the best cars on the block, it’s easy to see how it’s such a successful venture. The other side of this partnership is the number of huge used car dealerships on the Internet, who buy the cars at a discount price and pass that discount onto their customers.
Generally (if a customer chooses to buy from a reputable secondhand car dealership), they’ll get much better value compared with what they’d pay for a non-ex-rental of the same age and condition. So savings can average two or three thousand pounds on certain models, while customers are also often offered a much better choice between models and colours. There are still, however, a few disadvantages to buying an ex-rental model and still a lot of stigma attached to the concept of buying ex-rental cars, al of of it ill-informed. Read on to find out exactly what you should look out for.
First of all, the most common perception of the downsides is that the car will have had countless drivers in its two- or three-year life as a hire car, over which time its various drivers have probably smoked in it and generally mistreated the interior, or previous users having used the car to take rubbish to the landfill site or using it to move, say, building materials.
Another negative in the buyer’s minds, worse than those aesthetic aspects, is that previous users may have also driven the vehicle hard, causing unnecessary wear and tear to the engine and/or mechanics. It is true to say that, depending on which car hire company the car has come from, the damage caused by such usage may or may not have been spotted, so it’s up to the buyer to be vigilant and fully inspect the maintenance history of the vehicle.
Generally speaking though, with regards to the cars being kept in good condition, it’d be wholly counter-productive for a car hire company not to maintain their cars to a certain level and run regular checks and repairs – catching problems before they get worse will save them a lot of money, so they’ll probably have an on-site maintenance team for that. Plus, if customers have a bad experience with even a remotely faulty car, then the car hire company is unlikely to see any repeat business from them. The truth is a high percentage of all used cars for sale at between six and 12 months old are “ex-rental”
Because of big contracts between the large second-hand dealerships and nationwide car hire companies, it’s crucial to maintain strong, reciprocal relationships. The dealerships are therefore in a position to specify that they’ll only accept the best ex-rentals for their forecourts, so the hire companies tend to only sell on their poorer condition cars through secondhand car auctions. So these days, car buyers are no longer at the mercy of the sneaky secondhand car salesman, and really do have the opportunity of netting themselves a relatively new model at a greatly reduced price.