To buy a new car or to buy a used car—that is the question! A certified pre-owned (CPO) vehicle balances the luxury of new with the affordability of used. Here are 5 things that you should know about CPO cars before you go into a dealership
A certified pre-owned car (CPO) is a car that has been inspected, refurbished, and certified by a franchised dealership before it’s sold.
Having a used car that is in excellent condition and certified might seem too good to be true, but if you do your research, you’ll quickly realize that it can be a great investment.
Here are 5 things that you should know about CPO cars before you go into a dealership.
There are two different kinds of certifications for CPO cars. Dealer-certified cars are authorized by the dealership in accordance with their own in-store standards.
Manufacturer-certified means that the car has met specific requirements backed by the maker of the car. The manufacturer sets out the criteria for the program nationwide, ensuring that the same quality of CPO car is met at every dealership in their franchise.
Ask the dealership: Is this vehicle a part of the CPO program?
CPO cars are the top echelon of used cars that you can buy. When a dealer receives a used car, be it by trade-in or by purchasing at auction, it is put through inspection by a factory-certified mechanic. If the car meets the standards, it is then repaired (i.e., brake jobs, front end repairs, an oil change, etc.) and offered for sale as a CPO vehicle.
Every manufacturer is able to set their own criteria for which vehicles are allowed into their CPO program. Here are a few examples:
With a CPO car, your vehicle will hold better value if you happen to do a trade-in later down the road. This is a great incentive to keep your car running smoothly. In the program itself, there are usually many more benefits that prove the worth of buying a certified pre-owned vehicle.
Ask the dealership: Can I see more about the car’s history?
If you decide to have your next car CPO certified, you’ll be paying more for it. Costs can range anywhere from $200 up to $3,000 extra.
If you’re on a tight budget and every penny counts, the extra cost might not seem worth it. There may be another car just like it on your shortlist that isn’t certified pre-owned, just a regular used car, and it’s likely advertised for less.
And if you intend to do your own servicing and repairs, is the extra coverage really necessary?
It certainly could be worth it, especially as many car repairs, whether electrical or mechanical, can easily reach the $500 to $2,500 mark quickly. And, compared to a non-certified car, you’ll be less likely to encounter issues given the measure of inspection. This means that you’ll not only be saving money, but you’ll also be keeping safe on the road.
Ask the dealership: When does the warranty coverage start and what does it cover?
CPO vehicles are backed up with an extended warranty and subjected to an in-depth inspection that will give you some serious peace of mind. On the other hand, just because a used vehicle isn't manufactuer- or dealer-certified, that doesn't mean it isn't perfectly reliable. The used car market is extremely robust, and there are great deals to be found on reliable vehicles that don't meet CPO age & mileage criteria.
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