An orange 2021 Chevy Colorado Z71 is shown from the front at an angle.

Understanding Certified Pre-Owned Programs: Truck Edition

You may have heard encouraging words about buying Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) trucks, but before you run to your certified used truck dealer to request their finest CPO truck, you should become more familiar with some of the programs offered by truck manufacturers. The term “Certified Pre-Owned” specifically indicates cars, trucks, SUVs, and vans that are part of a manufacturer’s CPO program. This means that any guidelines for the program are set by the manufacturer directly. Some certified used truck dealers offer a dealership-backed certification program, so you may wish to clear up this distinction when you start shopping for your next truck.

In each instance, manufacturers can set their own specifications and guidelines for their CPO program. As a result, it can be confusing when comparing trucks from different manufacturers. To make life easier, let’s take a look at some popular CPO truck programs to compare what they offer, in no particular order. Please note that manufacturers can change their program guidelines as they wish, but these guidelines will be relevant for trucks manufactured before 2023.

A grey 2021 GMC Sierra 1500 Denali is shown from the front after leaving a certified used truck dealer.

The General Motors Certified Pre-Owned Program

GM is responsible for a large portion of today’s modern trucks. Including both Chevy and GMC vehicles, this CPO program is offered for the Chevy Colorado, Silverado, and Silverado HD, as well as the GMC Canyon, Sierra, and Sierra HD. Buick vehicles are also included in the GM Certified Pre-Owned vehicle program, although they currently do not manufacture trucks.

Chevy and GMC trucks must be within six model years to qualify for the GMC CPO program. If you’re reading this in 2023, that means the oldest possible certified truck you can buy under these rules would have been manufactured in 2017. Furthermore, only trucks with fewer than 75,000 miles on the odometer will be considered. A clean title is also a must, which is why a CARFAX Vehicle History Report is also included.

Next, each truck undergoes an extensive 172-point inspection. Most manufacturers allow drivers to download copies of a blank inspection report to get an idea of what areas are covered, but the word “comprehensive” comes to mind. Dealerships must review all cosmetic, mechanical, technological, and operational parts of the vehicle. This includes a detailed inspection of the interior, exterior, under the hood, in the trunk, and anywhere else a vehicle may experience wear and tear. A road test is also conducted to ensure there are no strange noises or behaviors. If small issues can be corrected, the dealership must demonstrate to GM that they have made these repairs. Additionally, any recalls must be honored before a vehicle earns its certification as a CPO vehicle.

Once the vehicle has been inspected and reconditioned, GM will extend two warranties to the individuals who purchase these trucks. The first is a 6-year/100,000-mile powertrain limited warranty accompanied by 24/7 roadside assistance. The second is a 12-month/12,000-mile bumper-to-bumper limited warranty. Each warranty has a $0 deductible and can be transferred in the event that you sell your CPO Chevy or GMC truck before the warranty has expired. But there are also some cool things in the offering, such as the first two maintenance visits are on GM, and you also have three days or 150 miles to decide whether or not you love your truck. You also get a free trial of OnStar and SiriusXM memberships, if your truck is equipped for these services.

The Ford Blue Advantage Program

The concept behind the Ford Blue Advantage Certified Pre-Owned program is similar to that of General Motors, with a few significant differences. First, Ford offers two levels of certification. Blue Certified means the truck has fewer than 120,000 miles on it and is ten years of age or younger. Gold Certified includes trucks with fewer than 80,000 miles on them and are less than six years old. These guidelines apply to all Ford vehicles, including the Ranger and F-Series pickup trucks.

There are slight differences in the inspection process, as well. Blue Certified vehicles are subject to a 139-point inspection, while Gold Certified vehicles must complete a 172-point inspection. Following this inspection and any necessary reconditioning, Ford Blue Certified vehicles are sold to new homes with a 90-day, 4,000-mile comprehensive limited warranty. Ford also throws in a full tank of fuel, an oil and filter change, new wiper blades, and 11,000 FordPass points toward your first maintenance appointments.

Gold Certified Ford trucks come with a few more benefits. The comprehensive limited warranty is extended to 12 months/12,000 miles for Gold trucks, and a 7-year, 100,000-mile powertrain limited warranty is added. Drivers also can enjoy 24-hour roadside assistance and a 3-month trial of SiriusXM if the truck has the appropriate equipment. The FordPass points and full tank benefits also apply.

A black 2021 Chevy Silverado Z71 Trail Boss is shown from the front at an angle.

Stellantis Certified Pre-Owned Vehicles

Vehicles manufactured by Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Fiat, and Ram are all subject to the Stellantis CPO program, which means any Ram truck or Jeep Gladiator will be covered by these terms and benefits. The guidelines are similar to the previously-mentioned programs; to qualify for the Stellantis CPO program, a vehicle needs to be under 75,000 miles, five model years old or newer, and come with a clean title and no frame damage. Furthermore, any aftermarket accessories added cannot compromise safety, emissions, or operation of the vehicle, according to the program policy. This distinction is important, considering the popularity of customizing Ram trucks and Jeep Gladiators.

Once a 125-point inspection is completed, each potential CPO vehicle must be reconditioned with authentic Mopar parts. The factory-backed 7-year/100,000-mile powertrain limited warranty is joined by a 3-month/3,000-mile maximum care warranty, which offers comprehensive coverage for vehicle components. Drivers can also upgrade their warranty to a certified upgrade plan, providing additional protection for as long as they own their trucks. 24-hour towing and roadside assistance, a car rental allowance during repairs, and three months of Sirius XM Satellite Radio are also part of the offerings.

Is a Certified Used Truck Worth It?

Many drivers appreciate the peace of mind of driving a Certified Pre-Owned truck. Plenty of used trucks are in fantastic condition and have plenty of life left in them when they show up on the pre-owned market. But having that extra “certified” in front of the title offers a significant amount of value to the truck. Not only has it been fully inspected for potential defects, cosmetic issues, or future concerns, but the manufacturer has confidently extended a warranty on these vehicles as a result of that inspection.

We live in an age where it’s actually a good thing to be a little paranoid, and many of us have been bitten by a less scrupulous used car salesperson in our lives. When purchasing a truck from a certified used dealer, you have the assurance that each truck is in tip-top shape; if not, the manufacturer has offered a warranty to make things right. That’s not to say every used truck is junk or that every used truck salesperson is questionable, of course, but that for those drivers who are invested in risk mitigation, a CPO vehicle might be an excellent place to start when shopping for a used truck.