Are Rental Cars New Or Used? (Checked & Explained)

Rental cars provide a partial solution to the century long problem of transportation. They are perfect for people who like their privacy but don’t want to pay for owning a car.

However, if you’re going to be driving one, it’s best you know how old a rental car is. Let’s find out.

Here’s the short answer to whether rental cars are new or used:

The major rental car companies in the world today have a standard of buying only new vehicles. They further maintain this standard by selling their cars on average at just 30,000 miles. This practice ensures that only new cars are in their fleets.

Are Rental Cars Always New?

This depends on the rental car company. Most rental car companies only buy new vehicles. That’s not to say a few wouldn’t buy used ones.

Also, rental car companies mostly maintain their cars well. It’s safe to say rental car companies are more thorough than regular car owners with car maintenance. That’s a major reason rental cars always look so new.

One thing to note is that a rental car can be new in terms of mileage and the model year. However, poor handling by renters may cause a faster wearing rate on the car. Such scenarios would no doubt cause new cars to age unnecessarily fast.

Rental car companies, however, curtail such mishandling with strict protocols and procedures. The fees they charge for such damages help in making the car more presentable. Still, such damages would leave an effect on rental cars, hence affecting their overall state.

With all of that in mind, rental cars are mostly new. However, because they are driven more regularly for extended periods of time than private cars, they may look older.

Can Rental Car Companies Also Have Older Used Cars?

Cheaper rental car companies don’t get rid of their car as quickly as the top-notch ones. This means they’re bound to have older cars in their fleets.

Good maintenance is another reason companies would have older used cars. Hence, as long as they’ve properly maintained a vehicle, they may choose to hold on to it a little longer.

Some car brands have more prolonged lifespans and reliability than others. The handling and roads also matter. Not all cars in a rental company’s garage will be used for cross-country trips or driven through mountainous roads.

The wear and tear on such cars will be minimal, thus ensuring a longer lifespan. This will tempt some rental car companies to keep such cars for longer periods.

However, no matter how long rental car companies keep their cars, there are certain limits they wouldn’t cross. Thus, you’d never find overly old cars at any car rental.

Of course, not all rental car companies make use of brand new cars alone. Some rental car companies may buy used cars to begin with.

However, even though they buy used cars, they wouldn’t be ancient vehicles. Their used cars may very well be almost new cars and would no doubt have low mileages on them. They also get their cars from reputable dealers.

Related: What Is Considered Damage To A Rental Car? (Explained)

Do Any American Rental Car Companies Use Older Cars?

Many American rental companies now resort to using older cars. We’d explain why.

Even though this is not the norm for many companies, it seems they have no choice. A shortage of vital components affected not just the automobile industry, but also the car rental industry.

Supply chain disruptions forced rental car companies to reduce their fleet because of low patronage. However, they didn’t expect a growing demand for rental cars in the following year.

They met the high demand with low supply because many rental companies already reduced a great percentage of their vehicles. Hence, the scarcity of rental cars ensued, leading to high prices.

Supply chain issues reduced the production of vehicles, which affected the number of new vehicles hitting the market.

Since new cars became scarce, one method rental companies used to handle the shortage was by opting for used cars. Typically vehicles with very low mileages on them.

That being said, many rental car companies use older cars today. However, we believe it’s a matter of time before car production normalizes and they return to their high standards.

How Often Are Rental Cars Replaced?

Normally, rental car companies only use their cars for 1 or 2 years, then replace them. This is about 30,000 miles going by an average of 15,000 miles driven per year. However, rental cars have a tendency to have more mileages in a year.

Going by that analysis, they mostly replace them at about 35,000 to 40,000 miles. Some rental car companies replace their cars as early as 15,000 miles. Others may choose to allow theirs to get to 45,000 miles.

It all comes down to a difference in standards. However, it seems the situation has forced most rental companies to go by a similar standard these days.

Currently, rental car companies have another way of handling their small fleets. They now hold on to their cars a little longer.

Besides buying used cars, rental car companies now keep their cars even up to 60,000 miles. However, as expected, now more than ever, they are thorough on maintenance. They also pay more attention to the damages inflicted by customers and are stricter to protocols.

These measures are now put in place to ensure the serviceability of their vehicles, irrespective of mileages.

Related: Are Rental Cars Generally Reliable? (Read This First)

Are There Any Benefits From Using New Cars for Rental Companies?

The obvious answer is profit. Still, there are many ways new cars will affect profit making.

First, new cars always impress customers. They are likely going to be comfortable with high prices as long as the rental car is new and comfy. Most people just want value for their money.

However, old cars may attract lower prices. Customers also have ways of evaluating cars to determine what they should pay to rent it for the said period.

Another benefit of new cars is that they are more reliable than used ones. This is because they have newer components. Thus, they rarely need repairs as often as older cars do.

This causes profit to be maximized, since they minimize maintenance costs. However, rental companies can reduce the frequency of repairs in used cars by replacing major parts after purchasing them.

If older cars breakdown, rental car companies would spend money on roadside assistance. There’s also the logistics of providing the customer with a different vehicle to fulfill the agreements of the contract.

Rental car companies also get special deals from manufacturers. For example, the manufacturers may buy the cars back at a fixed amount after an agreed period. However, they have to maintain the vehicles to a certain standard for the agreement to remain valid.

Such agreements aren’t possible with older cars.

Rental companies also get better reviews and ratings from customers if their cars are new.

Related: What’s The Longest You Can Keep a Rental Car?

Can I Be Sure My Rental Car Is in a Good Condition?

Almost all rental cars on the road today are reliable to a very high degree. In fact, many people who constantly rent cars often remark on the rarity of breakdowns.

We’ve already discussed the various practices that make rental cars reliable enough.

Wear and tear is usually another factor why most cars malfunction. However, rental cars aren’t usually used for too long, so they’re replaced before wear and tear becomes a problem. The strict usage protocols and maintenance routine that the top-notch companies practice make it difficult for their vehicles to malfunction.

Even if they do, companies have roadside assistance that comes to your aid in case of an emergency. Still, we’re sure you’d prefer a smooth experience.

You should know that even though we have so much confidence in rental cars, it’s best to be cautious. Another customer could’ve damaged a vehicle without even knowing it.

When you pick up the car, inspect it thoroughly for damages.

If you find any reason at all why you don’t want the vehicle, you can ask to have it changed.

After driving off, ensure you pay close attention to any strange sounds or noises. Do not ignore even the slightest anomaly. If the car jerks or the engine loses power, make sure you contact the rental company immediately.

Don’t wait till it breaks down.

Final Thoughts

Ultimately, whether a rental car is new or used, it’ll usually be in a great condition. If a rental company cuts costs in one aspect, they’d probably compensate for it in another way.

Many rental companies spend large amounts of money when buying brand new cars in huge numbers at fair discounts. While these costs are massive, they thrive by selling those same cars after a short duration at a profit.

Other rental companies buy their cars used and at a cheaper price, then sell them later on at cheaper rates.

At the end of it all, these companies try to make a profit and satisfy customers.


Is Buying a Rental Car a Good Idea? |

Was this article helpful? Like Dislike

Click to share...

Did you find wrong information or was something missing?
We would love to hear your thoughts! (PS: We read ALL feedback)