- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 18, 2019

The life of a rental vehicle is a tough one: It’s driven by many people and for more miles than average. After about a year of service, the rental company will typically pull the vehicle out of the fleet and sell it as a used car. But in this “second life,” a former rental vehicle can make for a compelling used car value - if you’re willing to accept a few trade-offs.

Edmunds has researched the pros and cons of buying a rental vehicle. We’ve also gathered a small list of vehicles to keep an eye out for that might prove to be a particularly good value. The choices are based on Edmunds’ data and comparisons to traditional dealership pricing.

PROS:

- A way to save: Rental companies purchase their vehicles in volume and at a discounted rate. In turn, they are able to sell them at lower prices than a traditional dealership would. As seen in the examples below, discounts could be 10% or more.

- A newer vehicle for less money: It is not uncommon to find 1- to 2-year-old vehicles, which could potentially get you the latest body style or safety features. These vehicles would cost thousands more at a franchise dealership’s used car lot.



- Convenient sale process: Avis, Enterprise and Hertz offer no-haggle pricing. Avis and Hertz also offer free two-hour test drives or a three-day “rent to buy” program, which gives you more time to decide if you want the car. To alleviate buyer’s remorse, Enterprise and Hertz also have seven-day return policies.

- Well-maintained vehicles: Rental agencies are diligent about maintaining their vehicles. All the scheduled maintenance is performed at the manufacturer-recommended intervals.

- Limited warranty: Most major rental companies will give buyers a 12-month or 12,000-mile limited powertrain warranty. This coverage is more than you’d get at an independent used car lot, where most of the vehicles are sold as-is. At either place, you will inherit any remaining balance on the vehicle’s factory warranty.

CONS:

- Uncertain history: It’s difficult to determine how hard a rental car was driven. While some might be careful with a rental, others may drive the vehicle more aggressively since it isn’t theirs.

- Higher-mileage inventory: The average miles driven per year in the U.S. is about 14,000. But you’ll easily find vehicles in a rental fleet with double or triple that number of miles.

- Potential to be out of warranty: Because of the higher mileage, you might find that the vehicle is past its factory warranty coverage. Any repairs required will likely have to be paid out of pocket.

- Lightly optioned cars: Don’t expect to see top-of-the-line vehicles with a ton of upscale options. Rental companies usually buy base models due to the lower price and simplicity of ordering.

VEHICLES TO CONSIDER

- 2019 Volkswagen Jetta

Average sales price for rental models with 10,000-20,000 miles: $14,993

(17.2% discount from a dealership)

What our editors say: “The new Jetta offers a roomy cabin and an impressively smooth ride quality. Quick acceleration from a stop is another highlight.”

- 2017 Hyundai Accent SE

Average sales price for rental models with 40,000-50,000 miles: $10,401

(12.2% discount from a dealership)

What our editors say: “The Accent is a top choice for a small sedan thanks to a satisfying combination of performance, utility, comfort and style.”

- 2019 Kia Optima LX

Average sales price for rental models with 20,000-30,000 miles: $15,052

(12.1% discount from a dealership)

What our editors say: “The Kia Optima continues to offer some of the most feature-packed models you can buy in the midsize sedan segment.”

- 2018 Nissan Rogue S

Average sales price for rental models with 40,000-50,000 miles: $15,766

(12% discount from a dealership)

What our editors say: “The Rogue has an expansive cargo space and roomy seating. It’s one of the more versatile small SUVs around.”

- 2018 Toyota Avalon

Average sales price for rental models with 30,000-40,000 miles: $19,061

(9.9% discount from a dealership)

What our editors say: “A cushioned ride and hushed cabin make the Avalon well-suited for commutes and road trips, and its roomy interior offers plenty of room to spread out.”

EDMUNDS SAYS: Consider shopping at a rental car lot the next time you’re in need of a good used car. The streamlined sales process and lower prices may be enough to offset the added miles and history of many drivers.

___

This story was provided to The Associated Press by the automotive website Edmunds. Ronald Montoya is a senior consumer advice editor at Edmunds. Twitter: @ronald_montoya8.

Related links:

- 2019 Volkswagen Jetta Review https://www.edmunds.com/volkswagen/jetta/

- 2017 Hyundai Accent Review https://www.edmunds.com/hyundai/accent/2017/review/

- 2019 Kia Optima Review https://www.edmunds.com/kia/optima/

- 2018 Nissan Rogue Review https://www.edmunds.com/nissan/rogue/2018/

- 2018 Toyota Avalon Review https://www.edmunds.com/toyota/avalon/2018/

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