A person is shown smiling as someone passes them a key at a dealership with Certified Pre-Owned cars for sale.

As Good As New: Certified Pre-Owned Cars

If you’ve ever looked for a used car for sale, you’ve probably learned about a variety of programs that manufacturers, dealerships, and other sellers provide for their customers. Some used vehicles are just that, used, and can come with existing issues. Other used cars have been inspected and cleaned, or there are even cars that have been repaired or maintained before being put up for sale. Is there a better, simpler way to be confident about the condition of the vehicle you’re buying?

If you or someone you know has been subject to a bad deal, a lemon, or other horror story involving the purchase of a used vehicle, there’s a solution that will make your next used car purchase stress-free. Many dealerships offer this program to provide customers with a quality vehicle that won’t break the bank. You can count on this program to ensure that whatever vehicle you purchase, you’ll be able to drive it home with confidence. Keep reading to find out more about Certified Pre-Owned cars.

What Is a Certified Pre-Owned Vehicle?

Dealerships that sell used cars can choose to offer their customers Certified Pre-Owned (or CPO) vehicles. What this means is that when they receive a used vehicle, they don’t just clean it and put it on the lot. Before that, they inspect it, put the car through its paces, check for issues, and note what needs to be repaired. After this thorough inspection, the car is then repaired, maintained, and detailed until it is back up to “Used, Like New” condition. CPO vehicles usually come with their own warranty, so even if the original factory warranty has expired, you can feel safe and confident when driving your new-to-you vehicle.

There are other perks to utilizing this program. These vehicles tend to be in better shape before they are refurbished since the dealer will only choose the best used cars as a starting point for a CPO offering. They often have lower mileage than other used cars. You won’t have to take it to the shop right after driving off the lot. Instead, your CPO vehicle will be in its best condition, leaving you to simply keep up with regular maintenance.

There are several independent CPO programs across the country, and none of them are exactly the same. How do you know which one you can trust to follow through and ensure your used vehicle is ready to go?

How to Spot a Bad Program

Although unfortunate, the truth is that not every CPO program passes muster. There are plenty of programs that do not serve the customer. There are a few key things to look for when you’re considering the purchase of a CPO vehicle. A CPO vehicle must be backed by the manufacturer, typically has not been in any major accidents, and often has lower mileage than other used vehicles. If a dealership associate tries to sell you on the CPO program, it’s a good idea to ask about the particulars.

Look for the details about the inspection process, what is included in the inspection, and whether they are willing to share those details with you. Ask about the length and specifications of the warranty, how many miles it covers, and for how many years. You can also ask about any deductibles you may need to pay when you visit the dealership to have the vehicle looked at. Also check what, exactly, is covered by the warranty. Is it bumper-to-bumper, or is it simply a powertrain warranty? These and other questions regarding the specifics of the CPO program are important for uncovering any confusing information or parts not covered.

Take the vehicle you are interested in for a test drive to see if any problems reveal themselves, just like you should for any car. Are there strange noises when you drive? Do the brakes vibrate when you apply them? This can indicate that despite a dealer’s claims of an extensive CPO program, they might not have inspected the vehicle after all.

A salesperson is shown passing a car key to a person.

How to Find a Good Program

Just like recognizing a bad CPO program, finding a good one starts with asking questions. Are the answers transparent? Does the sales associate seem comfortable sharing details with you? Many good CPO programs include a ten-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty. The vehicle should also retain the rest of the original manufacturer warranty, as well. For example, if a vehicle is two years old and has 25,000 miles on it, and the original warranty was for five years or 60,000 miles, you’ll get coverage for the remaining three years or 35,000 miles of the factory warranty, plus the CPO powertrain warranty on top of that. You can also ask about the inspection that was done before the vehicle was brought into the CPO program. If it’s a 173-point inspection or similar, that’s a great indication that they have vetted the vehicle thoroughly.

Some CPO programs also include perks, like rental car reimbursement, roadside assistance, towing services, and free trials of satellite radio, Wi-Fi, or other tech features that you typically wouldn’t get with a regular used vehicle. Knowing what is included in the CPO program and asking questions about the specifics regarding inspection, warranties, and perks will guarantee that you find the right CPO program and an array of excellent driving options. If you take a few minutes to talk with a sales associate, read their materials, and take the vehicle for a test drive, you’re well on your way to understanding what makes a good CPO program that will benefit you both in the short-term and the long-term.

Why Should I Buy a Certified Pre-Owned Vehicle?

One of the major benefits of making that purchase is in the form of savings. You’ll get a high-quality, almost new vehicle without the new car sticker price, which will also keep your monthly payments, insurance, and maintenance costs low. You’ll also be able to rest easy, knowing that your vehicle has been inspected by experts. You’ll know the service and repair history of the vehicle instead of wondering when your used car will break down. You’ll have a warranty if anything goes wrong, and you’ll also have perks to enjoy or to have available in case of an emergency.

Knowing that the important parts are covered and that you won’t have to worry about whether or not you got a good deal can increase your peace of mind greatly. Buying a vehicle is stressful enough without the added concern that you might have been cheated, lied to, or taken advantage of. This is why more and more drivers have chosen to forego individual sales and non-CPO used vehicles, and why the CPO program continues to increase in popularity.

A couple is shown talking to a salesperson at a used Ford dealership.

Find a CPO Vehicle for Your Next Purchase

Now that you know what a Certified Pre-Owned program entails and how to discern between a bad program and a good program, you’re ready to explore the world of CPO vehicles. Many, if not most, dealerships are now offering CPO cars for sale. Take a look at their inventory online, and see if they are transparent in showing what their specific CPO program entails. Remember to ask plenty of questions, get the details spelled out in a straightforward way, and check out the vehicle yourself. While you can’t always guarantee that a used vehicle is in pristine condition, buying one through a CPO program will ensure that you’re covered if problems arise.

For a lower cost, you can buy an almost new vehicle that still has plenty of life left in it. You can look into a wide range of vehicles, and pick the CPO program and car that works best for you. It’s good to know what you can expect from your CPO vehicle and to know you can rely on the dealership to uphold their end of the bargain. Don’t let someone talk you into something you’re unsure about. If you’re looking to buy a used vehicle, make the smart decision, and look for a Certified Pre-Owned program in your area. You never know what a good deal you might find.