Like the low price? Know this before you buy a used rental car

Consumer Reports warns some rentals have taken a beating

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – If you’re thinking of buying a used car directly from a rental car company, you could be getting a steal. But before you dive in, Consumer Reports warns you need to make sure you look into the life of the car.

Rental cars can rack up substantial miles. Avis, Enterprise, and Hertz show mileage on their cars running from about 10,000 to more than 50,000. And while most rental cars are no more than 18 months old, they have had many drivers. Avis says on average, its cars are rented 55 to 65 times a year.

“With that much use and by drivers who don’t have a personal stake in the rental car, these vehicles have likely taken a beating,” explained Consumer Reports Auto Editor Jon Linkov.

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But there are protections in place: Most rental companies do inspect their cars regularly. 

In addition to the manufacturer’s warranty, many rental-car companies offer warranties for a year or up to 12,000 miles -- whichever comes first -- and include roadside assistance. And it pays to look for cars that have five-year or 60,000-mile warranties from the manufacturer, like Hyundai or Kia.

But Consumer Reports says nothing beats knowing the history of a car, and it recommends you check on the following websites to see whether it has ever been in an accident:

Consumer Reports also recommends getting it inspected by a certified mechanic -- not just an oil change shop. 

To see the cars that perform well and those that demonstrated years of better-than-average reliability, check out Consumer Reports' used-car reliability scores.

And there's something you need to keep in mind when you are thinking about how much you want to pay for a used car and how much a certain car may be worth. Consumer Reports says after one year, a new car on average depreciates 27 percent from its sticker price; after three years, it's worth about half.