Car Buyers' Guide: Fleeting chance to buy a bargain
Fleet vehicles can be a good buy, writes AA Motoring
Should I buy an ex-fleet car? It’s a question AA Members often ask, concerned whether any risks are associated with them, and whether they could have any trouble when it comes to resale. Former fleet vehicles offer an affordable entry into the car market and are a viable option for many motorists, but there are considerations to bear in mind if one is on your radar.
Where’s it been before?
A fleet car can either be owned or leased, and essentially there are two different types of fleet vehicles. The first is a tool of trade, while the second is often part of a salary package. Their maintenance history could vary depending on whether they have been leased or owned, so it’s important to get those details before you decide to buy one of these vehicles.
Is it in good nick?
Typically, there will be company rules in place for owned and leased vehicles that drivers must adhere to, such as bans on smoking in the car. This helps keep fleet cars in tip top condition.
A leased fleet car has to follow a strict maintenance schedule prescribed by the organisation leasing the vehicle. This is often regulated by a fleet manager, who stays on top of the vehicle’s WoF and service requirements, meaning you can almost guarantee it’ll have a good service and maintenance history.
If you’re looking at an ex-fleet vehicle that was owned, remember the previous driver could have chosen against following a servicing schedule, so there may be hidden troubles needing further investigation.
Whether owned or leased, drivers do tend to be cautious when they’re behind the wheel of a fleet car. The last thing they want is an accident while they’re working. Plus, who wants to stand in front of the boss, explaining why our car is lacking a bumper?
Where can I buy an ex-fleet vehicle?
Most ex-fleet cars are sold at auction, so starting your search there is a safe bet.
Many larger organisations replace their fleet in one go, which can result in auctions listing identical vehicles.
When this happens, it’s important to look through all the cars to narrow your choice to just one. A basic visual check of the car and some research in to when its next service or WoF is due should serve you in good stead, as focusing on more than one vehicle will confuse things, especially when they all look the same.
We always recommend getting a pre-purchase inspection done by a professional — as when buying any used vehicle. This provides clarity around the car’s condition before you start bidding.
Want to save some money in the long run?
Keep your eyes peeled for bonuses on the vehicles. Say you’re looking for something with a custom cargo barrier, for example. Finding a vehicle listing with one fitted may not dramatically affect the overall auction price but buying and professionally fitting a cargo barrier can cost hundreds.
Remember, not all ex-fleet cars are guaranteed to be gems, especially if they were previously owned and not leased. You can save money buying an ex-fleet vehicle, but you do need to choose wisely.