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What Is a Fleet Vehicle?

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A fleet vehicle is a car owned by an organization, not an individual. Businesses, nonprofit groups and government agencies have fleet vehicles available for specific purposes and are regularly maintained by professionals. When a vehicle reaches a certain age or mileage, it gets replaced. If you’re in the market for a used car, expanding your search to include fleet vehicles can help you get a deal. 

What is a fleet vehicle?

A fleet vehicle is a car that was once used by an organization for work, charity or government purposes. There are a variety of fleet vehicles, from wallet- and eco-friendly sedans to full-size SUVs. The most common type of fleet vehicle is a rental car. National car rental companies — Hertz, Avis and Enterprise, for example — sell their used vehicles to recoup some of the original cost of purchase. Because such companies purchase cars at bulk discount, you may be able to find a great deal.

A fleet vehicle vs. a rental vehicle 

Not all fleet vehicles are rental cars. Some organizations have vehicles for employee or volunteer use only. If the idea of owning a rental car doesn’t make you comfortable, consider getting a fleet vehicle that is not inventory from a rental company. 

Pros and cons of buying a fleet vehicle

Before you travel down the fleet vehicle road, weigh the advantages and disadvantages of buying one.

Pros Cons
  • Regularly maintained
  • Clean inside and out
  • Clear vehicle history information
  • Lack of luxury options
  • Potentially little manufacturer warranty left
Pros

  Regularly maintained. Companies that manage fleet vehicles are vigilant about strictly adhering to service schedules. This is not the case when you buy a car that was owned by an individual or family. 

  Clean inside and out. Cleaning was likely a part of the vehicle’s maintenance schedule, especially for rental cars. The car isn’t likely to have gunk in nooks and crannies that have built up.

  Clear vehicle history information. Companies will generally offer comprehensive information on the vehicle’s history, maintenance and pricing, plus photos. 

Cons

  Lack of luxury options. Fleet vehicles tend to be base model cars. So if you’re jonesing for a car with heated seats or a power liftgate, you may not find those bells and whistles.

  Potentially little manufacturer warranty left. Most vehicles have two manufacturer warranties that could be close to ending on a used fleet vehicle. The basic or “bumper-to-bumper” warranty typically lasts three years or 36,000 miles, and the common powertrain warranty lasts for five years or 60,000 miles. 

Where do you find fleet vehicles for sale?

There are a number of places to shop for a used fleet vehicle. 

Auctions

Several websites feature thousands of used rental and municipal fleet vehicles up for auction that you can browse. They offer in-person and/or online bidding that you could even do from your phone. 

  • Manheim: One of the largest wholesale vehicle platforms in the industry
  • Copart: Specializes in wholesale and salvage vehicles
  • AutoBidMaster: Fully online 

Many auction brokers also offer to connect buyers to related services, such as car financing, inspection, parts locating, repair and transportation services if needed.

Rental car companies

If you’d rather not buy via auction, most national rental car companies have a sales division. Hertz, Avis, Enterprise and Thrifty all offer rental cars for sale. The Hertz website gives interested buyers information on available inventory, financing and steps to trade in a vehicle. Enterprise has a seven-day, 1,000-mile buyback offer, which does require forking over a $200 restocking fee.

Government vehicles

As for finding government vehicles for sale, GovPlanet lists thousands of used cars and trucks, from cruisers and sedans to vans and pickup trucks. Municibid lists passenger vehicles as well as trailers, parts and construction equipment. Since these sites are mostly auction-based, interested buyers will have to find local auctions or listings for live auctions through the site.

How do you finance a fleet vehicle?

The first step in financing a car is to determine a payment that will fit your budget. Use a car payment calculator. Then, shop around for a car loan. We strongly recommend that you get preapproved so you already have a financing offer in your pocket and know your budget limit as you shop around for a car. Potential lenders include credit unions, banks and online lenders. You could fill out an online form at LendingTree and get up to five auto loan offers at once from lenders.

 

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