Buying and Selling

What you need to know before buying an ex-fleet vehicle

Should I buy an ex-fleet car? It’s a question we get asked by AA Members from time to time, with people wanting to understand whether there are any risks associated with them, and if they would have any trouble when it comes to resale. Former fleet vehicles offer an affordable entry into the New Zealand car market and so are becoming an increasingly viable option for many motorists, but there are a few 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 both owned and leased vehicles that drivers must adhere to, such as bans on smoking in the car. This helps to ensure that fleet cars are kept 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, it is certainly important to bear in mind that the previous driver could have chosen against following a servicing schedule, so there may be hidden troubles that need further investigation.

Whether owned or leased, drivers do at least tend to be a little more cautious when they’re behind the wheel of a fleet car - the last thing they want is the inconvenience of an accident while they’re working. Plus, there aren’t many of us who want to end up standing in front of their boss, explaining why their car is lacking a bumper.

Where can I buy an ex-fleet vehicle?

Most ex-fleet cars tend to be sold at auction, so starting your search there is a pretty safe bet. It may be trickier than first anticipated though as many larger organisations replace their fleet in one go which can result in auctions that are listing identical vehicles.

When this happens, it’s important to look through all the cars to be able to narrow down 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 only make things more confusing, especially when they all look the same.

Before you get your sights fixed firmly on the prize, we would always recommend getting a pre purchase inspection done by a professional – as we would, were you buying any used vehicle. This will provide clarity around the condition of the car before you start bidding.

Want to save some money in the long run? Keep your eyes peeled for added bonuses on the vehicles in the auction. Say you’re looking for something with a custom cargo barrier, for example. Finding a vehicle listing that already has one fitted may not dramatically affect the overall auction price but buying a cargo barrier on its own and getting it fitted by a professional can cost hundreds.

Remember, not all ex-fleet cars are guaranteed to be gems, especially if they were previously owned and not leased. Get them checked out and do some research before rushing into a decision. While you can save a lot of money buying an ex-fleet vehicle, they’ll still cost you a good chunk of change, so choose wisely.

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