Dr. Charles Preston needed a minivan to deliver food to the homeless, but didn’t want to pay full retail price for a new one. While we’d never advocate buying a used rental car (since we know how they’re driven, and also how they’re maintained), that’s exactly what the good doctor did. Choosing a 2008 Chrysler Town & Country from a Thrifty Rental Car sales lot, the doctor didn’t bother to check if all the vehicle’s systems were functional.
Just over a year later, the minivan needed brakes, so Preston asked his local mechanic to check out why the windows wouldn’t fully lower as well. The mechanic quickly diagnosed the problem: $500,000 worth of cocaine, wrapped in purple cellophane, was blocking the window tracks.
Preston turned the stash over to police, who advised the doctor to get rid of the van, in case there were hidden tracking devices onboard. The man tried to exchange the Chrysler at the same Thrifty lot where he’d purchased it, but was offered some $4,000 less than his purchase price of a year earlier. As Autoblog and the Mercury News explain, once management at Thrifty Rental Car heard of its error, it was happy to exchange the van for a new (used) one. Good press, we suppose, trumps depreciation every time.
What’s the moral to this story? Be sure you check out any used car, from top to bottom, before you take delivery. If you’re buying from a rental car agency (and we wouldn’t), check it out twice.