YUK! Was Your Car Formerly a Rental Car?

rental cars

photo credit: torbakhopper via Compfight cc

In a recent article in a trade magazine, rental car operations managers offered some wild stories about their worst clean-up jobs: maggots, deer parts, boa constrictors, human blood, rodents, urine, dead fish. Of course, rental cars are known for “hard use;” that is, the cars’ drivers have little or no concern for wear and tear and they drive the cars accordingly.

Also, because drivers are unfamiliar with the cars, and are often unfamiliar with the roads where they drive rental cars (on business trips and vacations), rental cars may be involved in accidents more often than owner-driven cars. These accidents probably will not show up in a Carfax report, however, because most rental car companies are self-insured, do the repairs in-house, and don’t often report the accidents to anyone.

In recent years, some rental car companies have also been cited for failing to have manufacturer safety recall repairs performed, and for trying to save money by buying fleets of cars that have deleted standard safety equipment, like side airbags.

It is not surprising then, that because of the way rental cars are purchased, driven, and handled, they may be worth less than other used cars when they come on the used car market. An 18-month old car may have had hundreds of drivers and been involved in a number of incidents.

Confirming that used rental cars may have diminished value compared to other used cars, a recent study commissioned by a rental car trade association found that people are willing to pay significantly more for cars coming off long-term leases than they are for short-term rentals.

The reasons may be obvious. What may not be obvious is whether the used car you buy from a Maryland dealer was formerly owned and rented out by Hertz, Avis, National, Enterprise, or any of the other big rental car companies.

Maryland car dealers sell thousands of these former rental cars every year to unsuspecting buyers. Fortunately, Maryland law requires that the dealer disclose to the buyer, in clear and conspicuous terms, prior to purchase, whether the car has a rental history. Unfortunately, many dealers have ignored this law for years.

Tom Minton has successfully sued some of these dealers for their failure to disclose what the law requires. The firm is currently engaged in just such a suit against a prominent Baltimore County Chevrolet and Toyota dealer, and is interested in hearing from other consumers about their experiences with this dealer.

If you have bought a used car from any dealer in Maryland in the past three years, and suspect that the dealer did not inform you that the car used to be a rental car, we would be happy to discuss your potential claims with you. Call us at (410) 783-7575.

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