It’s been noted more than a few times that the increasing cost of new vehicles is shutting many out of that market, which has created a boom in the used car industry. One of the recipients of that boom has been the Enterprise used cars division.
Here's a quick outline:
The average retail price of a new vehicle is now up to around $35,000 compared to $20,000 for the average used vehicle, which gives a lot of wiggle room for pre-owned offerings. Additionally, the used vehicles often still have more than comfortable interior and optioning, even if they don’t have the absolute latest and greatest technology. Sure, you may be able to get a brand new ride with extra blindspot autonomous steering, but most people care about the basic creature comforts. Bluetooth, maps, rear camera, etc which are equipped in almost every auto sold these days.
So, we’ve determined that it might make sense to buy a used vehicle. The question becomes, where? Drive down your local freeway and I bet you’ll see a dozen used dealers sprinkled around.
Quick (random) fun fact! Dealers on the freeways are actually a remnant of my close family friend’s decision to put his Toyota dealership on the I10 freeway out in Los Angeles. Believe it or not, dealerships used to be placed in local areas, not by the easy to access and highly visible highways. Well, the Toyota shop quickly became one of the largest grossing in the country and once word got out, the rest is history.
There are many options when it comes to buying a used vehicle and your choice often depends on what you’re looking for. There is the age-long debate over whether to buy private or from a dealer, which used to depend mostly on your ability to judge the current state of a vehicle. If you knew what you were doing, you could find great deals just by inspecting everything correctly. With Topmarq as a new option to ensure all vehicles get thorough inspections before being listed, the value of a dealer is a bit less clear.
That said, there is also the option to buy fleet vehicles from the major vehicle rental companies who are looking to upgrade their selection. Due to the business model, they often need to keep relatively new cars on offer. This means they have to get rid of anything once it’s around 3 years old, often in very large quantities. While most of them go to big car auctions to be picked up by other used dealers, they sell many directly to the public. The volume cycling of these vehicles means they can offer them up at pretty good prices, and in very good quality.
Now, you may be thinking a rental vehicle seems like a bad idea. The drivers won’t care about it so it would have been treated poorly! While that can sometimes be true, it very often is not for a few reasons.
Say you rent a car from Enterprise, your credit card is now on the line for any damages to the vehicle and you know that. Sure it may not be your car, but unlike your own ride where you could just ignore an issue, you’ll have to pay to have it fixed immediately. This concern - even when people get the insurance - tends to keep the average renter on their toes when it comes to the vehicle. There will of course be incidents when something does happen anyways, but thankfully for you, there’s the second reason below.
Enterprise rentals all need to be maintained to 1) follow the law and 2) look good for every new renter who gets in a vehicle so that they come back. Because of 1) and 2), issues are quickly fixed by Enterprise to ensure business continuity.
In fact, in many cases these vehicles will have been looked after better than the average owner. Cleaned after every use, regularly serviced with oil and filters etc (remember, the law dictates that) and any crashes or things that could cause issues need to be noted, remedied, and then reported to you as a buyer.
So, yes, I would argue that used rental vehicles are more than safe to buy. That doesn’t mean don’t do your due diligence - just that it may be a good option.
While Enterprise used car sales tends to have a large quantity of vehicles, they are often just duplicates of one another within a few brands. Namely, Nissan and Hyundai - sometimes Dodge.
From a business perspective it makes sense for them to buy from fewer manufacturers for many reasons. They have larger purchasing power with the manufacturer to get cheap new cars. They need fewer technicians specialized in fewer types of vehicles. They may be able to organize bulk parts purchasing for their repairs department. The list goes on, but the point is that you will likely need to be interested in one of their chosen brands to be intrigued by the offering.
If you’re looking for a Ford pickup or a chevy corvette, this may not be the option for you. However, if you are looking for a Hyundai that’s a few years old that’s been maintained and comes with a 12 month powertrain warranty you will likely be very happy with the selection.
I would recommend just taking a quick look on their website to see if the types of cars they have are of interest to you before making the trek over. As of this writing, they had 4000 Nissans, 1200 Hyundais, 900 Dodges, and 900 Fords (maybe they will have a pickup for ya!).
Lastly, Enterprise has more than 130 sales locations nationally, and often has more than 7,000 options for sale. This gives it a pretty significant reach and inventory compared to any local dealer you might find. Definitely worth a check, as the deals can be great.
Yes, they operate on the no-haggle prices and they are generally lower than CarMax pricing. That means an easy purchase process without all the back and forth, and solid pricing on well kept vehicles. Of course you should always shop around to make sure the price on your specific vehicle makes sense.
For those looking for some economic options, they maintain a large stock of well cared for vehicles in the $10k to $15k range. This makes sense given the brands we talked about above plus them being 3-4 years old. A used hyundai with only 3 years on the clock could easily be in that range and still offer many years of great driving.
A cool thing about buying from Enterprise used cars is that they offer a few unique benefits to try and beat out the rest of the market. These include:
- Seven-day return policy
- Recent-model year - 75% of vehicles available for sale are 1-3 year old model vehicles & include at least 250 makes and models
- Low Pricing - 75% of vehicles available for sale are priced below Kelley Blue Book® typical listing price
- Powertrain Warranty - 12-month/12,000 Mile Limited
- Enterprise Certified™ - 182 point pre-purchase inspection
- 12-month Roadside Assistance - Worry-free ownership also includes 12 months of unlimited mileage roadside assistance
- Free CarFax report - Every vehicle gets a CARFAX Vehicle History Report™
One unique thing with going through Enterprise used car sales is that they do not offer loans or financing for vehicles. Instead, they’ve partnered with credit unions across the country to handle that aspect. This is actually a pretty big benefit because credit unions tend to offer much better rates than major banks, even though they are often overlooked.
My university credit union offers really solid rates (down to 2.9% for used) that I could never get with my Bank of America account even with my very high credit score. So take a look at their partners or just go to your credit union and ask them about their rates.
You might think that you wouldn’t be able to trade your vehicle in with Enterprise used car sales because their goal is to just get rid of the surplus inventory. Nope. They actually offer a guarantee to buy your vehicle trade-in at its Kelley Blue Book Value. Just note, KBB offers different value levels based on the subjective ranking of the vehicle's current quality and it can vary widely.
So, while they may offer KKB trade-in, if it’s the trade in value for an ‘ok’ vehicle but you think yours is in ‘great’ condition you aren’t getting a very good deal. Ah, who doesn’t love having to trudge through the marketing speak to figure out what’s actually being said.
If you have an experience with buying a rental car, comment below. We'd love to hear from you.