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Why buyers need to know if a vehicle was previously a rental

On Behalf of | May 25, 2023 | Dealer Fraud

The overall market price for used vehicles has increased, and buyers may find that they have fewer options when looking for a pre-owned vehicle. However, that does not mean that buyers should compromise their expectations regarding quality, especially if they have to pay more for transportation than they would have a few years ago.

There are some benefits to buying a vehicle that has been part of a rental fleet. Generally, companies do their best to maintain such vehicles in pristine cosmetic condition, and there won’t be gaps in basic maintenance there might be when an individual has owned a vehicle. Despite those benefits, however, there are numerous possible drawbacks when considering the purpose of a vehicle that was part of a rental fleet. Therefore, dealerships should disclose a vehicle’s rental status to potential buyers.

Why is rental use sometimes cause for concern?

Most people who rent a vehicle for short-term use on a vacation or while their vehicle is in the shop will keep the vehicle clean and drive it responsibly. However, some people are more aggressive in their driving style than others. Rapid acceleration and maneuvering by drivers with more aggressive styles may mean more wear and tear on a vehicle’s frame and systems than a gently-driven vehicle would have.

There was also the possibility of issues with the vehicle that customers attempted to hide and which the dealership may attempt to hide as well. A persistent vomit smell from someone getting sick on the upholstery could come back a few days after each interior cleaning. Prior flooding or water incursion incidents that might lead to mold could also compromise the air quality of the interior and the overall value of the vehicle.

The unfortunate truth with vehicles that have been part of a rental fleet is that someone simply does not know what has happened in that vehicle before. While that is extensively true of any used vehicle, a higher number of people driving the vehicle might mean more wear and tear overall and a greater risk of behavioral issues leading to unsafe or unsanitary conditions.

Generally, dealerships should openly disclose any details about a vehicle’s history that might compromise its value or safety. Prospective buyers should know that a vehicle has a history as a rental vehicle before making a purchase. The amount they willingly pay for the vehicle will likely change if they know that it was part of a rental fleet and not simply driven by not one or two previous owners.

Knowing what dealerships should disclose can help people who are upset about a recent discovery hold a dealership accountable for the misrepresentation of a vehicle that they purchased. Seeking legal guidance is usually a good place to start.


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