As the world did not end last week, and you were holding off on that big purchase of a car; perhaps you may now be thinking of jumping back into the fray. It’s tempting, especially with all those ends of year deals out there married with great financing rates. If you are still considering what make or model to buy and are not sure, the car rental companies may become your best consumer advocate. As the price of cars keep going up along with many different choices, why not spend a little bit of time with the make of car you are considering? With the rental fleets carrying almost every major brand these days, it may not be difficult to locate a similar car to the one you are thinking of purchasing. When a friend of mine was asking about a specific SUV he was considering, I directed him to his local Budget Car Rental where he rented the same SUV for a weekend he was contemplating. He, his wife, and kids all got to really give the car a test drive so they knew what-what they liked (and didn’t like about the car). He also got to discover what options he would need. In his case, memory seats (because he’s over six feet tall and his wife is about five), as well as captains chairs in the rear instead of the bench seat to keep the kids at a ‘healthy’ distance from each other. On another occasion, a friend was looking to purchase either a Camaro Convertible or a Mustang Convertible. Both were carried by the local Hertz store. She rented both only to learn that the truck on the Camaro was way too small, which would have been an issue and inconvenience for her. She’s now loving her Mustang! Just last month my neighbor (they know I work in the industry, so I often really do get these questions), was quizzing me about minivans. After I gave them my opinion, I directed them to the local Avis where they rented on two occasions, two different minivans. They didn’t end up buying a new van because they decided to take advantage of Avis’ program where you can purchase one of their vehicles!
If you are not set on a brand new car, Hertz, Avis, Budget and Enterprise all sell their vehicles to the public. You can get some really great deals on some late model vehicles that often have a good balance of the manufacturer’s warranty still left on them. Avis and Budget do it through a third party, but Hertz and Enterprise will sell you cars directly through rent to buy programs. Some of the rental companies programs will credit you the cost of your rental (time and mileage) if you purchase one of their vehicles. You can get the repair history but also some valuable feedback from the rental folks as to what sort of feedback they’ve received from the customers regarding the type of car you are looking for. Check the car rental websites for details. Some are offering specials on car purchase as of the time of this posting. Unbiased feedback from the local folks is also good advice to take if you are just renting a car for a test drive and are still thinking of purchasing that new car from a dealership.
For renting a car for that ‘ultimate test drive’, you are probably best to rent from one of your local rental stores like Enterprise, Avis, Hertz or Budget for example. The local folks there can assist you in renting the exact make and model you want. This would be more difficult to achieve at an airport location especially when you want to prearrange something. It will even be more expensive as you will be subject to all those extra fees and taxes associated with an airport. also, if you are flexible with your time, you can rent a car at your local store on off-peak days to save extra money. You may have to check several of the rental locations and brands to find the make you are looking for. As most of the car rentals companies carry the same brands, they may have different quantities, models and availability. Best advice is to try to call the location directly or just simply stop in prior to your rental.
So whether you are thinking about buying that new car or considering a used rental car, try it before you buy it. If you think about it, spending $40 -$60 to achieve peace of mind on a purchase of thousands of dollars is money well spent.
Have fun and drive safely. I’ll see you on the road!
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