How to Tell If a Used Car Was a Rental

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If a used car used to be a rental, this doesn’t mean that it is a bad car. As long as the car was taken care of by the rental company and maintained correctly, it can be fine. However, you should find out so that you can check the history of the car and make sure that there aren’t any hidden surprises.

Check the VIN of the Car and Look for a Barcode

Every car has a VIN, which stands for vehicle identification number. The VIN is attached to important information about the history of the car, such as ownership, accidents, recalls, and more. If you obtain the VIN, you can run a check through CARFAX or You can find out if it has been involved in flooding or any major accidents as well as whether it was used as a rental.

Often rental car companies place a barcode on the windshield, somewhere on the driver’s door, or even on the rear bumper. This barcode may still be affixed or there may be a visible outline where it was. If you find the barcode or an outline where one was affixed, you may be looking at a former rental.

Look at the Dealer’s Inventory

If the dealership has a large number of cars that are one or two years old, this could be a sign that they are buying in bulk from a rental car company. Rental companies upgrade to newer models frequently and they often sell their old cars in groups to one dealership. These cars will on average have higher mileage for their ages. Ask about the other cars that are similar to the one you want to purchase and ask the dealership if they came from a car rental company.

Examine the Interior

When you examine the interior, look for a No Smoking sticker. Most rental cars have these stickers somewhere inside. If it has been removed, you might see an outline of where it was placed. In addition, former rental cars are less likely to have dealer-installed accessories such as mud guards, a cargo tray, VIN etching, hood protection, a rust module, or all-weather floor mats. Rental car agencies usually buy base models without any add-ons.

Although you can get a good used rental car, you might want to know the history of your car. Follow these tips and be sure to ask the dealer if the car came from a rental company.

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