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Recession Rentals
With the economy dragging along and the auto industry teetering on the edge, rental car companies have been hit hard as well, which is starting to show in my travels. With cars sales next to nil, rental companies cannot sell their used cars, let along buy new ones, resulting in older cars becoming quite common.

In previous years, rentals were usually sold when they had about 25k miles. I used to get about half of my cars with less than 10K miles and it was pretty rare to see cars with more than 25k, let alone 30k but this year the mileage on rental cars has definitely been creeping up. The vast majority of cars now have 20k or more miles and that number continues to go up.

The reason that rental car companies sell cars around 25k is because that's when things start wearing out. One interesting thing to see is how well rental cars with more mileage have been holding up. Imports such as Toyotas or Hyundais seem to hold up well, but it's quite apparent that domestics still can't keep up in quality.

Case in point, the Dodge Caliber I received last week. It had 31k miles on it and it had a host of problems. First, the car just sounded bad when I started it. It had funny wheezing and whining noises. Something seemed to be wrong with the power steering which whined loudly anytime you turned it. If you turned it while moving, it was accompanied by a rough grating noise, which I guessed to be a bad CV joint or wheel bearing (which the attendant also guessed when I turned in the car and described it). When driving on the highway, there was a faint flapping noise as well, which I would guess was a torn CV boot (it's a rubber seal that can lead to a damaged CV joint if it's torn)

On top of that, the transmission was slipping like crazy. Usually when you press the gas, RPMs rise while the speed rises, but in this car, the RPMs would go straight to 4000 or so and the speed would slowly creep up until the car reached the appropriate speed for that RPM. Basically, the transmission was slipping about 90% of the time. Then, during braking the car would occasionally squeal as if one of the brake pads was nearing its wear indicator. In one instance, I think a brake failed as well as I felt a sudden loss in braking at a stop light.

That's a lot of problems for a car with 31k miles, even for a rental. It must be because it's a Dodge, which I've felt has been lagging in quality even more than Ford or GM.
Posted 03/30/2009 07:19 AM in Cars, Ramblings, Reviews, Work | Total Comments: (8)
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