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Knowing the Difference Makes a Difference: Certified Pre-Owned vs. Used

Shopping for a new car is one of the most exciting times in a person’s life. Whether they are embarking on their first automotive purchase, or their fifth, there is an undeniable rush that accompanies such a large purchase. Buying a vehicle has such a drastic impact on the day to day life of a person, that it is arguably one of the most impactful purchases they will ever make. Buying a brand new vehicle has its perks, but purchasing certified pre-owned cars can save the buyer a lot of money up front.

There is a lot of confusion regarding the difference between a used vehicle, and a certified pre-owned one. A lot of consumers assume that the terminology is simply a fancy way to refer to a used car, but the truth is that certified pre-owned vehicles are a very specific subset to the general used car population. Terms such as “New to You,” and “Pre-Owned” are indeed fancy ways to say “used,” and are generally utilized to take some of the negative connotation out of the used car buying process.

Certified Pre-Owned: How a Vehicle Qualifies

When a used car is sold at a dealership, it can either be marketed as used, or certified pre-owned. Vehicles that share the same manufacturer as the dealership are candidates for this special designation, but must first pass a rigorous testing phase to ensure that they meet original manufacturer requirements.

Chevrolet-branded vehicles exist under the General Motors umbrella, and therefore must pass GM testing in order to be deemed certified pre-owned. The GM Certified Program has a set of criteria that must be met by every used car before it is sold as a certified pre-owned vehicle. Prior to consideration, all certified pre-owned Chevrolet cars must be less than five years old, and have less than 75,000 miles on the speedometer. Vehicles that pass this initial test are then given a thorough 172 point inspection. Vehicles that meet and exceed these inspection standards are then ushered into the GM Certified Program.

Buying a Chevrolet Certified Pre-Owned Vehicle

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Every car, truck, and SUV sold as a certified pre-owned vehicle at a Chevrolet dealership comes backed by various warranties and guarantees. These include:

  • A vehicle history report
  • A 3 day or 150 mile satisfaction guarantee
  • A 12 month or 12,0000 mile bumper to bumper limited warranty
  • A 5 year or 100,000 mile powertrain limited warranty, along with courtesy transportation for the life of this warranty.
  • Trip interruption protection
  • 24-hour roadside assistance
  • A $0 deductible
  • Vehicle financing using GMAC that is considered “like new”

Because a certified pre-owned Chevrolet vehicle comes with so many perks of ownership, they are highly sought after by consumers in the used car market. This peace of mind is great to have, but is not completely free to the consumer. On average, drivers can expect to spend around $1,500 more on a certified pre-owned car, truck, or SUV, than they would on an average used car. This higher price accounts for the manufacturer’s extended warranty and the other extras outlined above.

Don’t Be Fooled!

The only place to get a true Certified Pre-Owned vehicle is at a manufacturer-backed dealership. A certified pre-owned Ford Taurus will never be sold at a Chevrolet dealership, and a certified pre-owned Chevy Tahoe can never be sold at a Volkswagen dealership. Off-brand dealerships, or used car lots, are not able to sell certified pre-owned vehicles.

These road side car lots will often put a “Certified” label on a used car, after a basic inspection or thorough detailing. While this practice is less than honest, it is not illegal. As long as these dealerships aren’t giving the vehicle in question a full “Certified Pre-Owned” title, consumers are left to assume what these car lots want them to. Some dealers may also make promises to certify the vehicle for you after you make the purchase, which is not only impossible to do, but also a lie. We recommend that if you find yourself at a used car lot where these promises are made, run in the other direction. No one can certify a used car after the point of purchase, and the perks of an official certified pre-owned program cannot be added in the future. Most often, these unethical dealers are actually offering an extended warranty, which is not the same as a manufacturer’s certified pre-owned program.

As a general rule of thumb, never buy a “certified” used car anywhere other than a manufacturer’s dealership. Ask to see program inclusions, perks, and the terms of any warranties offered. All reputable dealerships that offer genuine certified pre-owned vehicles will have no problem sharing this information with a potential buyer and will, more often than not, offer it up without being asked.

Save Money and Protect Your Purchase

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One of the most intriguing aspects of buying a brand new vehicle is the assurance that it is unblemished, free from any unknown history. The downside? Money. Buying new will cost drivers much more in the long run. Most buyers are not content with the base trim level of a new model and desire amenities that can quickly add up. While lower financing may be easier to secure on a new car, drivers can expect to pay higher rates to insurance companies for protecting a brand new vehicle.

Buying a car off a used lot has the perk of saving money, but at what cost? Most of these used car lots don’t offer purchase protection, or substantial enough warranties. Consumers may save a lot of money on the date they purchase their used car, but will end up paying more for costly repairs and unforeseen problems that the dealer failed to disclose to the buyer.

The solution? Drivers can save a ton of money, and make that money go much further by purchasing a certified pre-owned vehicle. Buyers who purchase a genuine certified pre-owned car from a manufacturer’s dealership can get a lot of extra amenities without being nickel and dimed for every upgrade. These specially designated vehicles give added peace of mind with extended protection, which is always welcome when buying a used car.

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