Is Hertz Car Sales great for buying used cars? Should you buy used rental cars at all? What’s up with these kinds of auto sales?
That’s what we’re here to find out with this guide! And while I’ll focus my research and analysis on Hertz, much of what I say is broadly applicable to buying used rental cars. Let’s see what it’s all about.
Note: This article conveys the results of my own research-based analysis. I have no relationship with Hertz.
What is Hertz Car Sales?
Hertz Car Sales is a unit of Hertz that mainly sells used cars from its rental fleet. It’s available to regular consumers like you and me.
Who Owns It?
It’s a registered trademark of The Hertz Corporation, which is ultimately under the corporate umbrella of Hertz Global Holdings, Inc., a publicly-traded company. You can see more on the investor relations website here. From the 2018 Annual Report:
Hertz Car Sales consists of a network of 80 company-operated vehicle sales locations throughout the U.S. dedicated to the sale of used vehicles from our rental fleet consisting of non-program vehicles, as well as program vehicles that become ineligible for manufacturer repurchase or guaranteed depreciation programs. Vehicles disposed of through our retail outlets allow us the opportunity for ancillary vehicle sales revenue, such as warranty and financing and title fees.
Overall, I think this is a good thing. You’re dealing with a corporation that’ll probably be there for the life of your car. No fly-by-night used-car dealer here; if you have a bad experience, there’ll be someone to respond or even make a claim against.
How Does Hertz Car Sales Work?
Pretty much how it sounds – you buy a used car from Hertz’s rental fleet. In more detail, you start at the website, where you can get the latest information about the program and search their inventory. It shows the cars, their location, mileage, exact price, and other details.
Once you choose a car, you can start (and perhaps even finish) the buying process from home, by doing things such as applying for financing.
You can also go to the dealership that has the car for a more traditional buying experience, with some extra perks like extended test drives.
Test Driving and Rent2Buy
There are two ways to test drive a car. The first is a free, two-hour test drive. For the second, you can schedule a 3-day “test rental”, where you rent the car you’re considering at a special rate. If you decide to buy the car, Hertz will waive the rental charges. Plus, in most states, you’ll be able to make the purchase from your own home.
Note that Rent2Buy does not apparently apply to all cars in inventory, though it does apply to most.
What Kind of Guarantees and Perks do You Get with these Auto Sales?
The Hertz Buy Back Guarantee
Under this guarantee, you can return your car within 7 days or 250 miles after purchase, whichever comes first. If you want to exchange it for a more expensive car, you can pay the price difference. Otherwise, you can get a refund of your purchase price.
In any case, you’ll have to pay “a cleaning and recertification fee of $200…as well as any excess wear or damage to the vehicle”.
12-Month/12,000-Mile Hertz Warranty
It’s not clear to me whether this only applies to Hertz Certified cars (see next section), or to all cars sold by Hertz Car Sales, or only to Rent2Buy cars. Either way, this is what the warranty covers:
- “Repair or replacement, less applicable deductible, of covered parts in connection with a mechanical engine, transmission or drive axle breakdown”.
- “Travel Breakdown Protection” – “Reimbursement for food & lodging costs up to $375 if a mechanical breakdown of a covered part occurs more than 100 miles from home”.
- “Rental Car Coverage” – “Up to $35 per day for up to 10 days for a rental car if a mechanical breakdown of a covered part requires your vehicle to be repaired overnight”.
- “Roadside Assistance Coverage” – “Free roadside assistance for 1 year for emergencies like a flat tire, getting locked out or needing a jump-start or tow”.
This may be quite compelling, especially if the manufacturer’s warranty is expired or close to it.
What are Hertz Certified Vehicles?
Hertz Certified vehicles are those that, as Hertz tells it, “undergo a 115-point inspection and pass all requirements before being accepted at the dealership”.
As far as I can tell, the vast majority of the cars in inventory are not certified:
Like pretty much all car dealers, Hertz offers a number of extras, including:
- Protection plans maxing out at 105,000 miles.
- GAP (“total loss protection”) coverage.
- Pre-paid maintenance.
- Technology coverage.
Are the Cars in these Auto Sales Beaten Up?
That’s the big fear, right? That the cars have taken a beating through many rentals? Is there any truth to this?
The answer is that there may be. Quoting a different company (Avis) Consumer Reports says that, on average, cars are rented between 55-65 times each year (see video below). Also, the same source informs us that, in general:
- Rental cars for sale can have around 10,000 – 50,000+ miles on them.
- The cars are usually no more than 18 months old.
- On the good side, most rental companies do maintain and regularly inspect their cars.
So, that means a worst-case scenario might be a car that’s been rented around 97 times in 18 months, and has over 50,000 miles on it. That, as opposed to a traditional used car, which may only have had one or two prior owners (who actually cared about the car).
I’ll even make a confession: I do eat in rental cars, but not in my own cars. I think I’m not the only one who will be less fussy with a rental car than with his/her own car.
Obviously, then, you have to be really careful when inspecting a used rental car (especially one that’s not “certified”). It’s likely gone through tens of renters, and been abused by at least some.
Are Prices Negotiable?
Apparently not, per this Quora thread. I’d try anyway, but don’t expect them to give ground.
On the other hand, you can try to negotiate indirectly by negotiating the price of your trade-in, if you have one.
Also, some websites show coupon codes, though I don’t know if they actually work. You might still want to try, though. Just Google coupon codes for Hertz Car Sales to find them.
Are Hertz Car Sales Prices Cheap?
Let’s see. I’m going to compare some cars directly on Hertz Car Sales and Edmunds. (However, note that Edmunds doesn’t sell the cars directly, but rather interfaces with lots of dealers).
First Car – 2019 Toyota Highlander LE with ~13,000 miles
Hertz price (note that the car is Hertz Certified): $26,587
Edmunds price (not certified pre-owned): $25,940
So, with Edmunds, you’re paying a few hundred dollars less, though the car has slightly more mileage and is not certified pre-owned (though it’s probably under Toyota’s warranty). Note that you may also be able to go to the dealer directly (in this case, Al Hendrickson Toyota), and haggle.
Hertz’s prices for other, non-certified cars are all over the map, considering the mileage:
Second Car – 2019 BMW X3 Sdrive30i with ~28,000 miles
Hertz Price (Certified): $32,997
Edmunds price (non-certified): $29,988
Let’s also get a CarMax price: $36,998
The one on CarMax has fewer miles, but it doesn’t seem to be certified and is a lot more expensive than either Hertz or Edmunds.
Edmunds is significantly cheaper here, and the car has fewer miles than Hertz’s.
Third Car – 2018 Toyota Camry LE with ~35,000 miles
Hertz price (non-certified): $16,700
Edmunds price (with ~22,000 miles): $15,995
CarMax price: $18,998
Again, Edmunds comes out the cheapest, and the car has the least miles.
So Are Hertz Car Sales Autos Cheaper?
A limited analysis like this will always be, well, limited. I can’t do a thorough statistical study with thousands of auto sales and prices. Still, with the above, you can see clear patterns emerge: Edmunds tends to be the cheapest, followed closely by Hertz Car Sales. Carmax can be a lot more expensive than either of those two.
However, it’s still critical to do your research when car shopping. Make sure to compare prices from different sources for the particular model you fancy. At the least, I’d suggest getting 3 or more online prices, like I did above.
Does Hertz Car Sales Take Trade-Ins?
Yes. How it apparently works is that you get a set amount of “cash” (more like credit). Then, you use that amount to pay part of the price of a car from Hertz Car Sales.
Clearly, though, do your research before you present your trade-in. Have a good idea of what it’s worth so you know whether you’re getting a good offer.
Do They Work with Bad Credit?
Yes, to the extent that their lending partners do. Like with practically all kinds of auto sales, Hertz Car Sales lets you apply for credit with them, and partners with well-known lenders to help find you a loan. Here are some of their partners:
- Bank of America
- Wells Fargo
- Capital One
So I expect that it won’t be very different than requesting a car loan with bad credit in any other situation. You may be denied or offered less favorable rates, unfortunately.
Are There Extra Fees?
There may be government fees. See here.
Will Hertz Provide Vehicle Maintenance Records
No. However, they say that “we encourage our customers to bring the vehicle to their mechanic of trust to validate the quality of our vehicles and service technicians”.
Can You Pay for a Car with A Credit Card?
No. Per Hertz: “…you can’t use a credit or debit card to purchase the vehicle. However, we provide financing solutions for almost every budget. Other acceptable forms of payment include: Certified Check or Wire Transfer. No bank draft checks are accepted”.
Pros of Buying A Car with Hertz Car Sales
- Easy, no-haggle process.
- Decent warranty and a company that apparently “stands behind its cars” (especially if you buy a “Certified” car).
- Many cars are very new and will also have the manufacturer’s warranty.
- Relatively low prices.
- Generous test drive and rent-to-buy programs.
Cons of Buying a Car with Hertz Car Sales
- It’s a used rental car, so it might be beat up or abused.
- Likely to have been rented by tens of people with no stake in the car before it gets to you.
- It’s probably cheaper to buy from Edmunds or somewhere else, or even haggle at a dealer.
Reviews and Opinions of these Kinds of Auto Sales
Although I myself have not used Hertz Car Sales (I personally lease), I did gather reviews and comments from around the Internet. Let’s take a look at a few:
A YouTuber with an Opinion
Interestingly, this guy suggests that many rental companies are self-insured, and may have repaired cars themselves without it going through insurance. For that reason, according to him, damage and repairs may not appear on a VIN lookup or vehicle history report.
I don’t personally know if this is the case (or even legal), but it’s just one more thing to think about when inspecting a used rental car.
A YouTuber with a Review
Quotes from People on Reddit on Rental Car Auto Sales (FWIW)
- “I bought a car through hertz last month. Even without the rent 2 buy, you can take the car for a few hours to test drive, bring to mechanic, etc. The office I used encouraged me to do so actually”. (Source).
- “If you have ever rented a car before you probably didn’t treat it very well, Whether it be accelerating quickly or slamming doors etc. etc. so I would make sure you are ready for that. I have witnessed many issues occur on cars nthat [sic] are due to wear and tear on vehicles from 2013. Also if the vehicle has been in some kind of accident (major or minor) the rental company pays a body shop next to nothing to fix the car and makes them take shortcuts so they are back on the road as fast as they can. They look for patch jobs so the car can make money”. (Source).
Tips for Buying from Hertz or Any other Rental Company
- Go with a “Certified” car.
- Inspect the car very, very carefully.
- If possible, have a mechanic inspect the car (especially if you don’t choose a “certified” car).
- Choose a car with little use (low mileage).
- Choose a brand with a long manufacturer’s warranty.
- Decide if you’ll purchase any extras or options before you get to the dealership, to avoid being pressured there.
- Always run the VIN through a lookup and history report.
- Buy a car that has received good reviews in all aspects, including reliability.
- As always, do lots of research and compare prices!
Hertz Car Sales vs Carmax
Carmax seems to be consistently more expensive, as the examples above show. Still, it’s worth it to do the research for the particular vehicle you’re considering.
Moving beyond cost, there are some similarities and differences between the two. For example:
- CarMax inspects every used car, and all are “CarMax Quality Certified”. Hertz, on the other hand, does not certify all its cars.
- Both Hertz and CarMax let you return a car within 7 days.
- CarMax’s warranty is 90-days/4,000-miles (whichever comes first), while Hertz’s is 12-months/12,000 miles.
- CarMax doesn’t focus on selling used rental cars, so the vehicles might not be as beat up or abused.
- Apparently, you can’t haggle at CarMax, either.
So as you can see, buying from Hertz Car Sales (or buying used rental cars in general) has plenty of pros and cons. I personally would be quite nervous with these kinds of auto sales, and would be more inclined if the price was really, really good.
Even in that case, I have to assume the worst – that the car took a beating. So, I’d try to mitigate that as much as possible. In fact, I’d probably do the rent-to-own, and take it to a trusted mechanic for a thorough inspection.
But listen, I’m not telling you not to do it. Just to carefully do your research and analysis first, as with any other major purchase. Oh! And consider the benefits of leasing (my favorite way of having cars).
What do you think of these kinds of auto sales?
Disclaimer: I wrote this post relying on the data I found online at the time of writing. Always check directly with Hertz Car Sales and other sources for the latest information.