After I totaled my car last week (1), my friends had me dreading the replacement process. The used car market is insanely overheated and if you do manage to find something, it will be vastly overpriced (2). And new cars, fuhgeddaboudit, especially if you want to order one according to your specs. Parts shortages from supply chain problems mean it will be months till your car gets built, if ever. And of course, there’s sticker shock, especially if you’ve been out of the market for a while. But price data is easy to come by on-line, so I checked out what it took to bring home a 4-door Jeep Wrangler (3). Kathy and I rented them whenever possible on trips and really liked the combination of comfort and ruggedness. There are 11 models now, but the cheapest cost more than twice what I paid for my ’11 Patriot and the most expensive was well more than half what I paid for my house in 1985.
So, I exhaled and logged on to Enterprise.com, the company I always use when I’m in Kalamazoo. Despite their bold green logo, they never pushed any Spartoon crap on me and were always accommodating. I knew that some rental car companies sold their cars once deemed too old to rent. Better than the glue factory. A friend in St. Louis over 40 years ago bought cars from Hertz and was very satisfied. So, sure enough, “car sales” was a choice in the bar and clicking on that got you to a site asking what kind of car you wanted. I just typed in “Jeep”, and there appeared pictures of all manner of cars bearing that brand, each accompanied by “no-haggle” price, location, fee to transport it from where it was then, and links to more detailed stats and the Car Fax reports. My online query about one vehicle got me a call on a Sunday and an appointment at their Farmington Hills office on Thursday. A call from Anton, the actual salesman handling my request, got our appointment moved to this morning. We selected 2 4 doors and await a return call from the dealer in Newport News to learn if our better deal is available. My wife and I didn’t have to wait around for all this. I’ve only bought 8 cars in my entire life*, but this was the most painless.
So, the car I get will not be an actual ex-rental. Enterprise takes in trades on its ex-rental sales, keeping and reselling them if they’re of reasonable quality. If you get an ex-rental, you’ll know it’s been regularly maintained and well cared for. Under the prices displayed is a red line stating how the price compares to Blue Book for a similar model. One of our choices was over $1700 less. Bargain city.
So, by now do you want to take a dip into this market for your next car? It’s relatively easy. Of the many car rental companies in this country, only 4 sell cars, with another soon to start (see table below). Several others farm their sales operations out to others, with Dollar and Thrifty going through Hertz, Alamo and National through Enterprise, and Budget through Avis.
So, if you’re looking for a car and getting tired of touring lots and following up want ads, consider checking out this almost painless route. I should add that Anton, the Enterprise agent who handled our deal, was the antithesis of a “used car salesman”: patient, totally professional, interested in our needs, and always helpful. So now, if you “let Hertz (or Avis, Enterprise, or Fox) put you in the driver’s seat” (4), you won’t even have to worry about getting the car back to them!
Rent-a-car companies that sell cars
- Ike B. ouch! WordPress 6/6/22. https://theviewfromharbal.com/2022/06/06/ouch/
- Butsch C. How to buy a used car (and get a good deal) in 2022. money under 30 4/22/22. https://www.moneyunder30.com/save-money-buying-used-car#:~:text=Buying%20a%20used%20car%20in%202022%20is%20hard,eight%20cars%20and%20one%20house%20during%20the%20pandemic.
- 2022 Jeep® Wrangler Pricing and Specs – 4×4 Midsize SUV. https://www.jeep.com/wrangler.html
- the memorable “we put you in the driver’s seat” ad from Hertz. YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZRuf9gdEgfw
*addendum: cars I’ve bought
’64 Olds Starfire
’62 Chevy BelAir station wagon
’71 Volvo 142
’79 VW Rabbit (first new car)
’91 Jeep Cherokee Limited (my favorite)
’95 Toyota MR2
’06 Jeep Wrangler (new)
’11 Jeep Patriot (new)