Certified pre-owned cars can offer the best of buying a new and used vehicle. They allow you to avoid the massive depreciation that affects new vehicles while still purchasing a relatively lightly-used car in good condition.
Before you make a final choice on a CPO car, it’s important to understand how these programs work to ensure that you get the best value for money.
What is a Certified Pre-Owned Vehicle?
Certification programs for used cars were introduced in the 90s and are now widely offered. Typically CPO vehicles are just a few years old with a low-mileage. They are refurbished and put through a rigorous inspection and testing process.
Often these cars come with perks like special financing terms, extended warranties, road-side assistance and exclusive return and exchange policies.
How to Get the Best Deal on Certified Pre-Owned Cars
There are many different CPO programs out there and some offer much better value for money than others. Before you part with your hard-earned cash it’s important to do some research to make sure that you are getting the best deal.
Manufacturer or Dealership Certified?
Both dealerships, manufacturers and independent bodies offer CPO programs. Look for a manufacturer’s program, as the people who made the car are best placed to test and certify it.
How Was It Certified?
Not all certificated pre-owned vehicles are equal. As there are no nationally recognized standards, some CPO programs are essentially worthless. Find out which organization sets the certification standard and who checks whether these standards are being met.
What Does a Certified Pre-Owned Vehicle Get You?
Most CPO vehicles have an extended warranty program. Make sure you check exactly what is covered, for how long and check whether you need to purchase additional coverage. Look out for other add-ons too, as these can vary significantly between programs.
What Else Do You Want in your Certified Pre-Owned Vehicle?
Before you finalize the deal, ask for any other extras that you would like. These might include upgrades to the car, road-side assistance or free oil changes.
Just because a car is certified, doesn’t mean that you should neglect to check it thoroughly before purchase.
- Make sure you buy from a reputable dealership, such as those on the CARFAX certified pre-owned listings
- Ask to see a copy of the mechanic’s inspection used for the inspection
- Get a CARFAX report to check for reported accidents or problems
- Inspect the car yourself for any signs of damage or fraud
- Take a test drive
- Get the vehicle inspected by an independent, reliable mechanic
“I happened to buy a certified pre-owned car from a Toyota dealer and the CARFAX told me exactly when the car was purchased and registered originally. I drove the car home 730 miles and went directly to my hometown dealership because I realized I had 4 days left on the original 36-month warranty. I received warranty coverage on a couple of items that saved me over $500 if I had to pay for these items out-of-pocket. The dealer told me these items would not have been covered by the certified pre-owned warranty. Thank you CARFAX!” - Keith Kunert, Laguna Niguel, CA