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Is a Certified Pre-Owned Car Right For You?

By: StaffPublished September 6, 2021

What Does Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) Mean?

You have undoubtedly heard the term Certified Pre-Owned vehicle and wondered, "Are they really any different than traditional ‘used’ cars?" The answer is a resounding yes. As opposed to a traditional "used car," which typically only receives a minor refurbishing from the dealer, a CPO car undergoes a comprehensive inspection. During the process, which is designed by the car manufacturer and conducted by a certified technician, only the best vehicles are selected and certified. Then, in order to add peace of mind, special financing, extended warranties, and services are often included.

What to Expect from a Pre-Owned Program

Take note that not all Certified Pre-Owned programs are created equal. For instance, the Lexus CPO program; offers a three year/100,000 mile comprehensive warranty, while Nissan CPO cars; come with a seven year/100,000 mile powertrain warranty. Even though one program can differ from the next, there are a number of commonalities. Some key features include:

  • Vehicles less than five years old
  • Mileage limits of less than 100,000
  • No prior accidents or body damage
  • 100+ Point Inspection
  • Extended warranty
  • Low-interest financing
  • 24-hour roadside assistance

Why Buy a Certified Used Car?

It is important to keep in mind that certified pre-owned cars cost a little more than your average “used car.” Prices are generally somewhere between 2-8% more over the original used car price. Fortunately, this added expense carries with it a number of benefits. If you are searching for more reasons to invest in a certified pre-owned car, here are four:

Reason #1: Receive Peace of Mind

Buying a used car comes with a certain amount of risk. But when you decide to go with a certified pre-owned vehicle, you get the peace of mind of knowing that your vehicle was inspected by a trained technician and is backed by a warranty.

Reason #2: Get More for Your Money

While certified cars cost more than used cars, they are a less expensive alternative to new cars. So, instead of buying this year’s newest model, which might only come with the base package, you could purchase a slightly used vehicle, complete with all the bells and whistles, but at a discounted price.

Reason #3: Side Step Depreciation

The biggest problem with buying a new car is that it can lose up to 60% of its value within the first three years, which could end up costing you tens of thousands of dollars. When you buy a car that is certified, someone else has already paid that expense.

Reason #4: Benefit from the Warranty

Few used cars, if any, come with a warranty that is comparable to a certified pre-owned car. While the benefits of the warranty will vary depending on the program, you can rest assured knowing that many of your car’s major parts are covered.

What to Look for in a Certified Pre-Owned Program

While manufactured certified pre-owned programs were created to help add peace of mind, they are in no way a guarantee. Just like with every car, whether it is new or used, there is always the chance of future problems. In order to protect your investment and ensure peace of mind, consider the following points:

    • Inspect the warranty: A longer extended warranty does not always equal a greater value. It is important to research maintenance and repair problems associated with that particular make and model. If a particular model has had few maintenance problems, you may be able to justify the shorter warranty.
    • Don’t be fooled by the 100+ point inspection: Just about every program claims to offer a 100+ point inspection. However, many of these points would be inspected if you simply got your tires rotated or asked for an oil change. When examining the inspection points, look for things that could end up costing you if they were not identified. You want to ensure that areas like transmission, brakes, fuel system, suspension, and steering have been carefully examined.

Feeling overwhelmed? UsedCars.com wants to help you find the pre-owned car that is right for you. We have compiled a list of some of the more popular certified pre-owned programs, complete with details on inspection points, warranties, and key differentiators.


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