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Beware buying a used rental car

If you’re thinking of buying a used car directly from a rental car company - you could be getting a steal. But before you dive in, make sure you look into the life of these cars. Consumer Reports explains.

You’ve probably seen the promotions - used rental cars - low prices, big savings.

Jon Linkov, Consumer Reports Auto Editor says,

“That low price can be attractive, and most rental companies do maintain their vehicles. But you still have to be a savvy consumer.”

Rental cars can rack up substantial miles. Hertz, Avis and Enterprise show mileage running on their cars anywhere from about 10 thousand to more than 50 thousand.

And while most of those cars are no more than 18 months old, they have had many drivers - Avis says on average cars are rented between 55 and 65 times annually.

“With that much use and by drivers who don’t have a personal stake in the rental car, these vehicles have likely taken a beating.”

There are protections in place. Most rental companies do inspect their cars regularly.

In addition to the manufacturer’s warranty, many rental companies offer them for a year or up to 12 thousand miles - whichever comes first - and include roadside assistance. And it pays to look for cars which have 5 year or 60-thousand-mile warranties from the manufacturer, like Hyundai or Kia.

But Consumer Reports says nothing beats knowing the history of the car - and recommends Carfax.com or Autocheck.com to see if it has ever been in an accident - And recommends getting an independent mechanic to inspect it too.

And it’s a good idea to take a look at Consumer Reports’ Used Car Reliability Scores which tell you cars that are well performing and cars that have demonstrated years of better-than-average reliability.

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