You may have noticed that many vehicles formerly known as "used" are now termed "Certified Pre-Owned" or "CPO." Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) cars are essentially top-quality, inspected used cars backed by manufacturers' warranties.
What does CPO do for me?
Most certified used vehicle programs include:
- Include only vehicles that are under 5 years
- Have mileage limits of less than 80,000
- CPO vehicles are normally free from major damage
- "Refurbish" the vehicle after an intense multi-step inspection
- Provide an extended warranty from the manufacture
- Special interest loans with lower than normal rates
The Good and the Bad about CPO
· Peace of mind in buying a preowned vehicle that has been inspected and found “better” than others from the point of an better than average standard.
· Most Certified programs are backed by the factory. Other programs are established by the dealer or another organization, without factory sponsorship.
· CPO vehicles include a manufacturer-backed warranty that typically covers repairs for a specified time period after the original factory warranty expires.
· You’re going to pay more for a car that is in better shape. These cars are the best available and have a warranty. The peace of mind comes with a price.
· No matter how carefully it's been inspected, there's no guarantee that a certified used car will suffer no troubles over the next few years. All certification can do is reduce the risk.
Can I just get an extended service plan?
A used car plus a service contract in most cases cost less than a certified pre-owned car, but the benefits also are lower and some "catches" may apply.
If repair coverage is backed only by the dealer, or a third-party organization, can you be sure they won't go out of business? Plenty of service-contract providers have done exactly that, leaving their customers with no protection at all. Look for a provider with a good reputation, checking with the Better Business Bureau.
No matter what these are forms of an insurance policy. That means it has limitations, exclusions and restrictions. Service contracts for used cars may provide full bumper-to-bumper coverage; apply only to the powertrain, or something in between.
If an extended warranty/service contract is transferrable, it adds value to the car for possible future sale.
Look over your contract carefully make sure you know how long the coverage will last. Is there a mileage limit (some are for unlimited mileage)? What types of repairs are excluded? Overheating, for example, is one problem that may or may not be covered by a warranty. Inquire about ordinary wear-and-tear items.
Must repairs be approved in advance? Can repairs be made anywhere, only at specified shops, or only at the dealership where the car was purchased? Obviously, warranty coverage that applies anywhere in the country, at any dealership for that car make, is the most practical. Keep in mind many will require an adjuster to look at your car, this might make leave a delay in getting you car back quickly.
CPO Check Points
Check 1: Inspect the points of the inspection
Each program can boast well over a hundred points of inspection. Look for these key areas.
Key inspection points:
- VIN Inspection (emissions, service & recall, VIN code issues, etc.)
- Road Testing (automatic transmission shift points/slippage, drive axle; clutch; steering; brakes/ABS, gauge operation)
- Body Exterior (frame damage, accident repair)
- Interior (airbag, dash light operation, smoker car?)
- Powertrain (fluid leakages, water in oil, cylinder compression reading, timing belt)
- Fuel System (fuel pump, fuel lines, oil pressure)
- Suspension/Steering (control arms, ball joints, tie rods, tire wear, alignment)
- Brakes (calipers/cylinders, rotor, hydraulics, etc.)
Check 2: Look at the warranty for the car
Each Certified Pre-Owned program offers a specific, non-negotiable warranty. Most programs offer an extended warranty beyond the CPO warranty, but each program differs in cost and features. You also may want to research whether the vehicle still has any of the original warranty left on it -- this will only add to the length of the warranty overall.
Check 3: Look for special incentives and finance deals
One of the most unique features of Certified Pre-Owned vehicles is that finance and lease deals are being extended to a used vehicle - which was virtually unheard of in the past.
Enjoy your next car!