How to hunt down a used-car deal from a rental company like Hertz, Enterprise during coronavirus

With Hertz offering to sell thousands of its cars at substantial discounts and millions of Americans facing financial uncertainties due to the corona virus, now may be a good time to look for bargains from car rental companies.
"There are definitely good deals," said Rick Ricart, president of used car dealer Ricart Automotive in Ohio. "Rents have dropped and car rental companies may become aggressive to cut their losses."
But there are also things to consider.
If you get into a used car dealership just because you see an alluring price, you could be in financial trouble. And as COVID-19 becomes more common, buyers should take extra precautions before taking off in a car that has previously been driven by dozens or even hundreds of other people.
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How to find a used car offer from a rental company intelligently and safely at the age of COVID-19:
What is a good deal?
The price is No. 1. This is the main reason to consider the latest generation of used vehicles. It is also important to compare the cost offered by the car rental company with what you would pay for a new model sold by the manufacturer.
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"If you can buy a new vehicle for a lower monthly payment than buying a used rental car, it's a no-brainer," said Ricart.
Some manufacturers have offered zero percent financing agreements for five years to remove excess new car stocks due to the pandemic. It is rare that zero percent of used cars are financed. Due to the increased risk, the interest rates for used cars tend to be higher. That could make up the difference even more.
The second thing to look out for is how many miles the vehicle has. Anything over 24,000 km a year could be a red flag, Ricart added.
Cars sold by Enterprise are rented for an average of one year before being put up for sale, the company says. Hertz said many of its vehicles have traveled between 25,000 and 40,000 miles.
A search on the Hertz website within 1,000 miles of New Orleans showed that more than 30,200 cars were available on Tuesday. A 2018 HyundaiAccent SE sedan, a little over 42,000 miles, was sold for $ 10,856 - $ 4,139 below market price, according to the iSeeCars.com website.
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However, the mileage tells only half the truth. Where these miles occur is also critical.
Rental cars are often driven on motorways on long road trips. According to Kelsey Mays, senior editor for consumer affairs at Cars.com, highway miles on vehicles aren't nearly as harmful as city miles.
When driving in the city, vehicles constantly stop, start and drive over bumps. You can find city miles more often on cars bought by private owners who commute through neighborhoods and city blocks.
"If you get a car with a lot of city miles and then you may experience a lot of wear and tear," said Mays.
The roads are smoother on the highway where most rental cars are driven.
What about security during a pandemic?
Hertz, Enterprise and Avis have websites where you can shop near you without leaving your home. They also offer delivery services to reduce personal contact, and everyone has introduced new cleaning methods as part of the corona virus.
According to Cars.com Kelsey Mays, potential buyers should take hygiene and social distance seriously when buying a used car
However, experts say: if you want to personally check the lot, do not forget your hand disinfectant.
"Do your own disinfection when you buy one of these cars," said Oren Weintraub, founder of Auto Authority, a company of auto brokers and purchasing consultants. "But it is good to speak to an authorized person in the dealership to confirm whether and to what extent the car has been disinfected."
Taking social distance into account, Hertz emails documents for owners to sign, and cars can be delivered within 75 miles of a rental location. According to his website, Enterprise also practices social distancing throughout the home delivery process.
Even if you have a car delivered for a test drive, you should ask yourself how it was serviced and cleaned, experts say.
If you're looking for a car on a landlord's property, you may want to wear a mask.
The CDC recommends wearing a fabric face cover in an environment where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain. If you're going on a test drive with a salesperson, opening the windows can help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
"Consumers really need to protect themselves," said Mays. "You should get a pretty good idea of ​​the precautions the seller takes when bringing the car to them."
What if the car has problems later?
It is common for large rental companies to offer limited guarantees for 12 months or 12,000 miles. Since many of the cars are still relatively new, the vehicles are often covered by the manufacturer's guarantee.
This is more than you would likely get from an independent dealer who often offers a wide selection of used cars as they are, with no relationship to the manufacturer. Dealers associated with manufacturers or franchise dealers often have service departments that specialize in the types of cars they sell.
According to Edmunds, franchise dealers can also offer special offers that would not be available with a traditional used car offer.
In any case, experts should have a car checked by an external specialist before buying.
"If the seller says you can't take it to a mechanic, that's a red flag and you should really get away from it," said Mays.
A standard car inspection should cost less than $ 200, Mays added. And possible frame damage, water damage or previous accidents are uncovered. You can also check the course of the vehicle via Carfax or Autocheck.
Finding out about certain structural issues after you buy the car and the warranty has expired can be costly.
"These are really important things that deal breakers can and should be," added Mays. “Even if it means that you have to do two or three inspections to find the car you want. It is still money well spent. "
Follow Dalvin Brown on Twitter: @Dalvin_Brown.
This article originally appeared in the US TODAY: Hertz, Enteprise: How To Get A Used Vehicle Deal From Rental Agencies

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