What is a Certified Pre-Owned Vehicle?

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Not everybody can afford to buy a brand new vehicle. For those without the right budget, credit history or people not wanting to pay higher insurance fees associated with new cars, buying a used vehicle can be a frightening concept if you don’t know the history. Having the option of purchasing a certified pre-owned (CPO) vehicle typically allows consumers to feel confident about the car they purchase and will drive. These vehicles are backed by the manufacturer in a way similar to a new model with a reduced price tag.

Here are some facts about Certified Pre-Owned vehicles and why you should consider them as a smart investment.

What Qualifies as Certified Pre-Owned?

Not all used cars can be certified. They must meet stringent qualifications before the label is attached. The vehicle is a later model, usually less than five years old, and it has low mileage. It may or may not still be under the original manufacturer’s warranty, but it comes with some type of warranty. In most cases, the process of qualifying a vehicle as CPO begins during a pre-purchase sale inspection or similar inspection by the dealership.

Any model of vehicle can be a CPO, whether it’s a luxury sedan, sports car, pick-up truck or SUV. Each manufacturer sets its own criteria for certifying vehicles, but all are similar. Certified vehicles first entered the market in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. High-end manufacturers such as Lexus and Mercedes-Benz began the concept to sell their used vehicles. Since those early days, the CPO vehicle has become popular and is now considered a third category in the automobile sales market.

What is the Process of Being Certified?

To become certified, a pre-owned vehicle must pass a detailed inspection. Each brand determines how extensive the inspection is, but they are all at least 100-point inspections. This goes well beyond a basic safety inspection to the core components and even the condition of the interior and exterior.

A vehicle that can’t pass the rigorous inspection won’t be certified. It may still come with a warranty, but it isn’t one backed by the manufacturer.

Most manufacturers have mileage limits of less than 100,000 miles for a vehicle to qualify for CPO, but some reduce the mileage even more. The vehicle can’t have been in any major accidents or had significant bodywork done. The vehicle will be refurbished after an inspection with any repairs made to meet the standards set.

Understanding the Benefits of CPO

Each brand defines its own certification program and which benefits it provides to buyers. Many times, the buyer of a CPO vehicle will enjoy the same benefits of a new car buyer. They may receive service loan cars, roadside assistance, better interest rates and terms on financing, shuttle service for repairs or maintenance and free maintenance for a specific period.

Many people are attracted to certified used vehicles because they can get a more expensive model than if they were purchasing a new automobile. They also enjoy the peace of mind that comes with the warranty and inspection. In addition, most manufacturers provide a vehicle history report which the buyer can review.

Some programs provide benefits which are similar to auto clubs. They often include roadside assistance for the duration of the warranty or even longer. They may provide trip interruption coverage, which reimburses the owner for the costs associated with breakdowns when the person is away from home. They often provide a short-term exchange policy, which allows the person to return the vehicle for a different one for any reason. The term is usually only seven days or another short period and is focused on customer satisfaction.

Many programs include add-ons, which can be purchased at a reduced rate. For example, buyers may have the ability to buy an extended warranty after the initial CPO warranty expires and have it included in the loan with no upfront cost.

Who are the Top Manufacturers that Offer CPO Programs?

Compare the program benefits side-by-side to learn which manufacturers have the best options for your needs.

Hyundai: 10-year/100,000 mile Powertrain warranty, 10-year unlimited mileage roadside assistance

Nissan: 7 years/100,000 limited warranty with roadside assistance and trip interruption coverage

Subaru - 7-year/100,000 total mileage warranty with roadside assistance

Lexus - 3-year/100,000 total mile limited warranty with roadside assistance

BMW: 2-year/50,000 mile warranty, which includes roadside assistance

Volkswagen: 2-year/24,000 mile bumper-to-bumper limited warranty with roadside assistance

Kia: 12-month/12,000 Platinum coverage, 10-year unlimited mileage roadside assistance

Mercedes-Benz: 12 months unlimited mileage limited warranty with roadside assistance, trip interruption coverage

Toyota: 12-month/12,000 miles comprehensive coverage and one year roadside assistance

GMC: 12-month/12,000 bumper-to-bumper warranty, roadside assistance for five years or 100,000 miles

Ford: 12-month/12,000 mile limited warranty with roadside assistance

Acura: 12-month/12,000 mile limited warranty with roadside assistance and trip interruption coverage

Honda: 1-year/12,000 miles limited warranty

Chrysler: 3-month/3,000 mile comprehensive warranty, roadside assistance

Due to the fact that not all CPO programs are the same, it’s important to compare them and determine which one offers the best deal. While you will be paying more than for a basic used vehicle, you may decide the benefits that come with a certified pre-owned vehicle are worth it. If you decide not to take advantage of a CPO vehicle, have a professional mobile mechanic from YourMechanic complete a pre-purchase car inspection first.


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Chris

20 years of experience
1650 reviews
Chris
20 years of experience
Mini Cooper - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Costa Mesa, California
Great service. Helped me understand what was wrong with the car before buying it, and I don't know lot about cars.
BMW 330i - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Temecula, California
Chris is extremely knowledgeable and highly competent. Performed exactly as I would have hoped for during his inspection, recommend very highly!

Nikolay

18 years of experience
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Nikolay
18 years of experience
Infiniti G35 - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Carlsbad, California
It was a pleasure dealing with Nikolay. He was able to provide the feedback I needed to understand the condition of the different parts of my Infiniti.

Willie

22 years of experience
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Willie
22 years of experience
Dodge Ram 1500 - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Garden Grove, California
Showed up early, gave me a call After pre purchase inspection, discussed and answered any questions. Very professional

Luis

16 years of experience
189 reviews
Luis
16 years of experience
Toyota 4Runner - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Summit, New Jersey
Very smooth and easy service. I had a pre-sale inspection done on a used 4Runner since I live out of state. Luis answered all of my questions and uncovered a couple items the dealer overlooked. Would highly recommend hiring him for similar work.

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