National used car retailer ACF Car Finance says that former fleet-owned vehicles now often need extensive and expensive servicing before they can be offered for re-sale.
The company blames a growing ‘pass the buck’ attitude to maintenance among fleet operators who it suggests skip services and scrimp on repairs in the run-up to their cars being sold on.
ACF Car Finance says that company cars were once considered a good buy because of a reputation for being well looked after, almost regardless of expense.
But now, it reports, used car customers risk inheriting a legacy of costly problems if they buy from a garage which doesn't thoroughly vet each vehicle.
In many instances, says ACF Car Finance, safety is compromised by fleet cars which have worn-out brake pads, tyres on the threshold of legality, and non-functioning lights.
The company says that other jobs typically neglected - such as changes of oil, plugs and filters and clogged DPF filters - compromise the car's performance and fuel economy.
Mark Jones, senior operations manager, said his company already discriminates in favour of the best examples of company-run cars, so the broader picture of neglect by fleet owners is probably much worse.
"Most fleet operators now have to watch their budgets more closely than ever - so there's a strong temptation to ignore work if the vehicle's time with them will soon be up," said Jones.
"For that reason, we are currently spending much more than we once did on every bought-in vehicle to remedy shortcomings before it is allowed in our showrooms.
"We'd advise any used car buyer to ask searching questions about what checks have been carried out by the garage, or risk picking up the tab for someone else's neglect.”