Damn, Not Even Rental Car Companies Are Buying Cars

Here’s some depressing news — not even rental car companies — the largest purchasers of automobiles, are buying cars this year, says CNNMoney.

Pat Farrell, a vice president at Enterprise Rental Car, said the company started trimming its purchases last summer as the slowdown in the economy became evident. The company, which also owns the National and Alamo brands, is the world’s largest purchaser of cars — it buys about 800,000 vehicles bought in a typical year.

When Enterprise experienced an even sharper drop in demand in October, it further cut back on its orders, a pullback that took three months to implement and will be felt in its January sales numbers.

Farrell would not disclose how much purchases were cut at the privately-held company, but he said it would be more than 10%. He said the company is holding onto vehicles about two months longer than normal to make up for the reduced purchases.

So, not only are our car companies in trouble — your rental car is going to suck, too.

Car sales: From bad to worse [CNNMoney]

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  1. Ash78 ain't got time to bleed says:

    your rental car is going to suck, too.

    Especially if you rent from Enterprise. 2 of my last 3 from them have been poorly-maintained sh*tboxes. Both low on oil, both with all four tires underinflated by more than a third. One with alignment WAY off and serious vibrations. Hertz usually does a better job, which I who I’ve stuck with since age 25 (Enterprise rents 21+)

    Most of this stuff you don’t realize until you’re well underway on your trip. Now I always rent the night before leaving, just to be safe.

    • Nighthawke says:

      @Ash78: It must be a regional thing. All my rents from a small dealership have been clean, well kept and in good shape.

    • Anonymous says:

      @Ash78: This is why I carry a tire gauge in my purse. If the car’s tires look even a little bit low during the walkaround, I check. I started carrying it after Enterprise Columbus tried to strand me with two flat tires. (One flat tire can be replaced by roadside assistance with the spare. Two flat tires are the customer’s problem.)

      I’ve also had Enterprise rent me a car with a bad transmission. And their lot guy couldn’t figure out why I thought I *needed* a third gear. They have some decent locations, but by and large….

      • econobiker says:

        @AidenQualakon: I echo the guage deal since most any rental or auto place keeps the tires about the 1/3 low that Ash78 complained about. Not only is is mushy riding but this uses more gas. I pump the tires to max psi even if I don’t have the wieght to carry- I go 10% or 5psi under if it is hot summer though.

    • m4ximusprim3 says:

      @Ash78: who checks the oil on their rental car? I mean, seriously?

      • Ash78 ain't got time to bleed says:

        @m4ximusprim3: I guess I’m in the small minority, but I am a DIY car guy and that carries over to rental–just for safety. I don’t worry about that stuff around town, but if I’m doing a long-distance trip, the last thing I want is hours of inconvenience due to an overheat or complete engine seizure (from lack of oil).

    • Corporate_guy says:

      @Ash78: What do you expect? If a customer reports a problem they could be blamed and charged for it. So these companies don’t get any free help from customers when it comes to checking the cars for problems.

    • MPHinPgh says:

      @Ash78: I don’t think I’ve ever had a significant issue with a rental from Enterprise. Admitedly, I haven’t had to rent a vehicle lately, but a few years ago, I was in one of their cars almost as much as I was in mine. I rented mostly from the same location near my home, so I guess maybe I got to know the personnel a little, but still…

      • MPHinPgh says:

        @MPHinPgh: Almost forgot…one thing I do now, especially at Enterprise (since they do that little “lets look at the car together” thingie is take pictures of every body panel on my cell phone, and email them to the Enterprise person. None have refused giving me their email address yet. Not that this really has anything to do with the topic, but it comes in handy every once in a while.

  2. reviled says:

    Someone always has a shitty rental story to bitch about. whine whine whine.

  3. sean98125 says:

    This is also going to affect the used car market, since there will be fewer lease cars available.

    • yagisencho says:

      @sean98125:

      Silver lining then.

      1) I bought a used car once that had been part of a rental fleet. Not that the dealer thought it worth mentioning. (It worked out fine.)

      2) I want to buy a new car, using my current one for trade-in. Fewer fleet cars on the market is a plus for me.

  4. coren says:

    it buys about 800,000 vehicles bought in a typical year.

    Bad grammar is bad

    (unless they’re saying it buys that many cars that are already bought, in which case it should be better worded)

  5. savdavid says:

    Reviled obviously doesn’t have to rent cars much or he has a high threshold for garbage and dirt in cars.

  6. lars2112 says:

    I rent about 40 times a year from Avis and have had very little if any problems. I mean you do get the cars that smell like someone died in them or that look like someone ate off the seats but for the most part they are pretty clean.

    One thing I always check is the tires.

  7. AbsoluteIrrelevance says:

    My friend works for a very strong Hertz branch and they haven’t slowed down purchasing cars, unless the dealer that is selling them is an a-hole. My friend’s high volume branch was told by a dealer that they needed to buy 25 per month from them, instead of 20. Then 30. Then 35. His branch recently said, “Go to hell, we’re not going to make up your deficit on our books,” and moved out.

  8. TouchMyMonkey says:

    Lovely for those who rent cars to see what it’s like to drive one with a lot of miles on it. Sucky for the manufacturer who is found out to be producing shoddy merchandise that will fall apart before the payment book does.

  9. dialing_wand says:

    Rental companies are in trouble, in part, due to following the lead (and probably “special offers”) of the manufacturers.

    I can’t count the number of times I’ve been “upgraded” from an econobox to a giant SUV simply because the location was out of the smaller cars. The majority of small car rentals these days are to cut down on fuel costs, not because their clients are cheap.

    Enterprise, of late, has been terrible here in Montreal – and we’ve started using Hertz almost exclusively for our business rentals. Their “elite status” service is wonderful and one of the few shops that still offer unlimited kilometers.

    • James Hall says:

      @dialing_wand: Don’t come jibbering around here with your dagnabbed metric system! The metric system is of the devil!! Why my car gets 40 rods to the hogshead and that’s just the ways I likes it!!

    • failurate says:

      @dialing_wand: I have had nothing but good things to say about our local Hertz. Always cheap or free upgrades and quite a variety of cars, not locked to one brand. I have even started using them for weekend deals.

    • econobiker says:

      @dialing_wand: I used to like airport rental upgrades from econoboxes to luxury cars that happened on holiday times. I figured that they would skin a walkup renter 3x versus for an econobox versus the 1x I paid for the luxury car I was bumped up to… alas no more.

  10. William C Bonner says:

    If the economy is bad, then it would make sense that rental companies would be renting less vehicles. If there’s less demand for rentals, then the same car will be rented for fewer hours over the same period of time. That would say that while the car you rent may be up to two months older, it won’t have any more miles on it than the car you rented the year before.

    • econobiker says:

      @William C Bonner: It is not the rental but the resale that the car rental places are worried about. If people are not buying used cars from dealer lots the rental companies don’t want to be stuck with the used cars at a later time…

  11. MacIllini says:

    Well some of them bought or at least ordered cars for this year. The problem now though, like the Citigroup aircarft, is that the car companies deliver them to their door step and the rental companies say NO THANKS. The car companies are than stuck with a crap load of low end models they some how have to get rid of.

  12. p012382 says:

    yea.. i used to rent from enterprize, and there cars suck! ive started renting from hertz and i have had very good cars with a lot more features than enterprize! ill never rent from enterprize again, since you have to have a 300 deposit! Hertz doesnt have that high of a deposit, every time i rented from them it was 150.00 deposit! GO HERTZ!

  13. geoffhazel says:

    My leased laptop I use that is provided by work was due to be renewed at 3/31/09 when the lease was up. I recently heard that had been extended by 3 months.

  14. Jubilance22 says:

    Over the last 2 years I’ve only rented from Avis. ZERO problems and I always get upgraded to a nicer car or SUV. I would never use Enterprise, I’ve heard enough stories from friends who got suckered into their “management training program”.