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If you are considering purchasing a used car instead of a brand new one, chances are a dealership is going to try and sell you a certified pre-owned car. A certified used or pre-owned car (CPO) is one that is inspected and refurbished by dealership technicians, comes with a warranty, and costs a little more than its Kelley Blue Book or Black Book value suggests it should. There are several reasons why purchasing a CPO is a good idea, but are these perks worth the increased price that comes along with the certification? In short, yes. If you can afford the extra cost associated with the certification, go for it. Here’s why:
In Depth Inspection and Refurbishing
In order to be considered a CPO, a vehicle must undergo an in depth inspection by a factory-certified technician. The technician has to go over the vehicle, point by point, and make sure that all of the manufacturer’s CPO quality requirements are met. In some cases, the inspection covers upwards of 100 points. After the vehicle is inspected, the technician then identifies areas on the vehicle that need to be improved and sets out to make all of the necessary changes. Only when the vehicle is refurbished to a condition that’s as close to its original state as possible, will it be considered a CPO. All manufacturers have different standards that must be met before they will call a used car a certified pre-owned. However, most manufacturers’ CPO programs are the same in that they will require a clean vehicle history report, no accident damage, and the passing of a multi-point mechanical inspection. There are other non-inspection factors that each manufacturer may differ on as well. For example, BMW requires that a CPO BMW must be no older than 5-years and must have less than 60,000 miles on its odometer.
Many people are deterred from buying a used car because most used cars do not come with a warranty. This is another one of the perks of buying a CPO. Depending on the year and current mileage of the CPO you purchase, many manufacturers will offer a warranty similar to the one that you’d get if you bought a new car. So in addition to the comprehensive inspection a CPO undergoes, the warranty that comes with a CPO is your second line of defense against any unforeseen mechanical problems. For example, the Lexus CPO warranty is a 3-year/100,000 total mile limited warranty that starts on the date of purchase, almost the exact same one you’d get if you bought a brand new Lexus. BMW’s CPO warranty is even better, depending on how old the vehicle is when you purchase it pre-owned. Their 6 year/100,000 mile factory warranty is good whether you are the first or the fifteenth owner of the vehicle. From the date the vehicle was first sold, for six years or 100,000 miles afterwards, whichever is later, any repairs necessary are covered by warranty.
Special Financing Rates
While CPOs cost more than non-certified pre-owned cars, they cost significantly less than a brand new vehicle would. In addition to their ideal pricing, dealerships will often offer special financing rates on CPOs. Sometimes these rates are as competitive as the ones they offer on new vehicles. For example, Mercedes-Benz offers the exact same financing for a Certified Pre-Owned vehicle as they do for a new vehicle.
According to KBB.com, the difference in price between a certified pre-owned vehicle and a non-certified pre-owned vehicle is less than you’d think. For a low budget model like a Honda Civic, you’re looking at only a few hundred dollars extra for the CPO inspection, the warranty, and the special pre-owned financing rates. As you climb the ladder to higher-end brands like Mercedes-Benz and BMW, however, the difference in price can be over $1,000. They argue still, as I do, that even then the increased price of a CPO is still money well spent.
Brittany Larson is a blogger who writes about cars for one of the United States’ largest automotive groups. Her father and grandfather are both mechanics, and she is contributing this guest post on behalf of Hudson Nissan.