What is a Certified Pre-Owned Vehicle?

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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Attila

19 years of experience
906 reviews
Attila
19 years of experience
Cadillac SRX V6-3.6L - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Edison, New Jersey
Attila was great! Very knowledgeable and actually detected a fault during a pre-purchase inspection that would have cost me later.
Lexus ES350 - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Fords, New Jersey
He is very good—offered all the significant details we needed from the inspection. Helped us figure out what needed to be fixed.

Shawn

12 years of experience
285 reviews
Shawn
12 years of experience
Chevrolet Impala V6-3.6L - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Lansdale, Pennsylvania
Shawn was prompt, professional, and delivered the promised service as expected. This was a used vehicle pre-purchase inspection. Shawn also had to drive to multiple locations to perform the inspection, as the address listed that I provided him with was not accurate, but he still made it to the correct location within his time window and completed the inspection.
Toyota Sequoia - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Akron, Pennsylvania
Shawn was very prompt in communicating with me and was good at helping me decide whether to purchase a used car. He help me avoid a car with a repaired rusted frame that could be a danger to my family's safety since we were planning on using the car to tow a travel trailer!

Luis

18 years of experience
320 reviews
Luis
18 years of experience
Honda HR-V L4-1.8L - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Warren, New Jersey
Luis was great. He showed up on time, acted professionally, and gave me confidence with a pre-purchase car inspection.
Acura RDX - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - South Hackensack, New Jersey
Luis did a thorough pre-purchase inspection for me, and found several major issues that made me pass on buying the car. Had I purchased the car, I almost certainly would have ended up paying thousands in repairs down the road. Thanks Luis!

Robert

20 years of experience
1089 reviews
Robert
20 years of experience
Hyundai Elantra L4-2.0L - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Englewood, Colorado
He did a pre-purchase inspection for me. He was knowledgeable and fast, and knew what he was looking for. I really appreciate all the pictures and documentation he took of the state of the car before purchase. He noted potential issues with the car that I wouldn't have been able to notice. Would recommend.
GMC Savana 1500 - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Golden, Colorado
I trust Robert. He gave me a list and we will take care of it the week of June 29. I will know then that my vehicle is ready for the winter and is safe to drive. I look forward to getting things ready for another winter of careful driving.

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