Many people perceive fleet and former rental cars as bad buys, much like off-lease vehicles. Buying one is just like buying any other used car in that you are taking a risk. So, buying a fleet vehicle is not always a bad idea. Read on for a few more details.
All used vehicles have certain risk factors that are mainly centered on mileage and maintenance. High mileage vehicles are going to be more at risk for a major mechanical failure. Used cars that have not had the scheduled maintenance performed are also at a high risk for costly repairs.
Fleet vehicles may actually be less of a risk than a used car that you buy from a private seller. They are going to be well maintained by the fleet owner. This is done to ensure that they make as much money as possible from the vehicle before it is retired. It is also possible that the mileage will be lower than a privately owned vehicle of the same age, because fleet owners try to retire a vehicle before it hits a target mileage reading. This is to avoid major repairs as a vehicle ages. Again, so the company can make as much money as possible.
What to Check When Buying a Fleet Vehicle
Whenever you buy a used vehicle, you must check it over. Even if you do not know a single thing about cars other than where the gas goes in, you can do a few cursory checks.
- Tires: how high is the tread, do they look unevenly worn, are they different brands?
- Under the hood: look at all of the belts and hoses. Are they dry-rotted or cracked, can you see fraying, do you see puddles of fluid, is there enough coolant in the overflow tank? If the engine compartment looks too clean, ask why it was so well detailed. It could be an attempt to disguise a leak.
- Around the car: walk around the car. Do you see any puddles, dents, broken trim, or paint that isn’t faded evenly?
Even after you have checked the car to the best of your ability, you should take the vehicle to a mechanic that you trust and is not affiliated with the seller. Once it has been inspected ask for a vehicle history report. With the inspection results and the report in hand, then you can decide if the fleet vehicle you are interested in is a good buy or not.