When you’re in the market for a new, or slightly used car, you know there a variety of options available to you. Dealerships can sometimes be overwhelming and looking for a used car through a private seller is too risky for your tastes. So, when looking for used cars, how do you know which way to go?
Luckily, most used car dealerships offer ‘certified pre-owned’ cars. This means that the used cars they have chosen to sell have been approved and qualify to be sold as ‘certified pre-owned’. To be ‘certified pre-owned’ the vehicle had to pass specific tests and meet certain requirements designated by the automaker to ensure a quality vehicle is being sold.
A lot of dealerships that don’t offer these programs can swear and promise they sell certified, the bottom line is there is you are taking their word and reputation that this used car is in sellable condition. Of course, you can always get a car history report and check it yourself, but what if you don’t know what you are looking for?
Having that ‘certified pre-owned’ sticker is a guarantee that the cars you’re looking at already meet manufacturer requirements, come with added protection of a warranty and ultimately allow you breath a bit easier.
There are plenty of reasons why buying certified pre-owned is beneficial. Let’s take a look and see what they are!
The Market for Certified Pre-Owned is Here Now
With the popularity for two to three year leases, newer model years are being turned into certified pre-owned. Leases make great CPO’s because their low mileage and minimal damage done. Plus, because the car doesn’t technically belong to the driver, they are often more careful with spills and overall cleanliness of the car.
Newer model trade-ins have been making a comeback in the automotive industry as well. Consumers are trading in their cars that aren’t old just to rotate and keep getting the brand new model.
Because of these two things, there are more cars available to be certified pre-owned than ever before. With more options than ever to choose from, now is the right time to be looking through certified pre-owned inventory.
Only the Best Vehicles Qualify
To be qualified as ‘certified pre-owned’, or CPO, these cars have to pass tests put together by the dealership or automaker. Therefore, the cars they will choose are already going to be in good shape.
Dealerships are not going to waste time and money on a vehicle that isn’t going to pass. So, more often than not CPO cars are going to be late model, low mileage vehicles with a clean history report. The one thing these cars will have in common is low risk and high rewards.
This also increases their ability to be sold at a higher price. The newer it is the vehicle is the less used it is and that’s what people will want to see. They will also be willing to pay more for that quality.
Brands will have very specific requirements they need each vehicle to meet. These requirements vary brand to brand. For instance, Chevy won’t have the same requirements that BMW has and for good reason. Each brand offers different coverage for specific parts.
To become certified pre-owned, the vehicle has to pass a number of tests and meet requirements set forth by the manufacturer. Age and mileage requirements along with a thorough inspection from the dealership with standards set by the manufacturer complete the inspection.
Certified programs usually include anywhere from 150 to 200 inspection points. These are thoroughly examined, but do remember they are still used. Once a car has passed and is now deemed CPO, an additional warranty is added to the car which adds to its value.
However, not all cars that go through the inspection pass. The cars that don’t pass do not get the CPO warranty. This can sometimes be confusing as not all dealerships claiming to carry CPO have all CPO cars. Even if those not certified pre-owned say ‘certified’, it may not mean the same thing or it may carry a different warranty.
Check with your dealer and ask very specific questions if this is a concern for you. Some dealerships will hope to confuse the buyer into thinking they’re getting a CPO, which dealerships sell at a higher cost, even if it’s just an extended warranty.
Low Interest Financing
One of the perks of buying a used car is the obvious lower price. Not only are you not paying for its immediate depreciation but because it will come with some miles on it, you can expect to pay less than a brand new car.
A CPO car, while still newer is definitely still used and is going to cost more than a used car that is not certified. The CPO car comes with less risk because it does qualify for extended guarantee which offers both protection and peace of mind.
While the CPO car won’t cost as much as a brand new car, in most cases it will come with the same low interest rates of a brand new car. Because of this, your monthly payment will also decrease which allows you to put more money down initially. It also keeps the price of the car down because a low interest rate means it is more affordable vehicle and therefore more likely to sell.
What to Watch Out For
While I have definitely built that case that CPO, there are some things to watch out for, as well.
Certified Does Not Mean Certified Pre-Owned
You will want to watch out for dealerships that try to sell you a ‘certified’ car under the guise of CPO. A certified car has no real definition or could mean whatever the dealership wants it to. Most likely, it will mean that the car has passed the dealerships requirements which is nothing isn’t a bad thing. You will want to make sure, however, if what you’re looking for is CPO that you are in fact, getting CPO.
Dealership vs. Manufacturer
Only manufacturer franchised dealers are allowed to sell CPO’s. Let me explain this because it gets tricky. We’ve all seen a variety of used cars at a host of brands dealerships and that’s okay as long as they’re not ALL being sold CPO.
For example, a Lexus dealership can sell as many used cars from different brands should they choose, but they could only sell used Lexus’ as CPO’s. They wouldn’t be permitted to sell Volkswagon’s as CPO because it’s not a Volkswagon dealership. The CPO has to be qualified by the manufacturer, not the dealer.
Also, always remember that no matter how ‘new’ a car is, it is still a used car and can never be brand new again. While CPO does verify its quality, most of its value is still just perceived. So much of what you are paying for is peace of mind.
Some people question whether CPO is all that different from a used car on the same lot that is not CPO. Ultimately, you have to use your head and instincts to decide if CPO is a better deal for you or not.