What is a Certified Used Car? Vital Facts You Need to Know

Patrick Oziegbe
Updated On:

Are you tired of scouring the used car market, hoping to find a diamond in the rough? Look no further than certified pre-owned (CPO) vehicles.

These beauties have undergone a rigorous inspection and reconditioning process by the manufacturer or franchised dealer, ensuring top-notch quality and reliability.

With a multi-point inspection and comprehensive verification of the car’s history, you can rest assured that any issues have been addressed and resolved.

Plus, many CPO vehicles come with a warranty, providing extra peace of mind. Refrain from settling for regular used cars when you can have the best of both worlds with a CPO vehicle – a safe bet cheaper than a brand-new car.

Key Takeaways

  • Certified pre-owned cars undergo thorough inspections and reconditioning for higher reliability.
  • CPO vehicles balance the cost of new cars and the risk of regular used cars.
  • Certification processes vary by automaker but typically include inspections, repairs, and history checks.

What is a Certified Used Car

Understanding Certified Pre-Owned Cars

A certified pre-owned (CPO) vehicle is a used car that has been thoroughly inspected, holds the qualifications required by the certifying party, and typically comes with a manufacturer-backed warranty.

To qualify as a CPO, a car must meet specific criteria, such as a late-model car with low mileage. For example, a Toyota CPO must be seven years old or newer and have less than 85,000 miles.

By choosing a certified pre-owned vehicle, you can trust that the car has been reconditioned and is backed by the manufacturer, giving you peace of mind while saving money compared to buying a new car.

Certified pre-owned cars might come at a premium price, offering benefits like extended warranties and additional services.

Be sure to weigh the pros and cons before making your decision, and always go through the details of the CPO program you’re considering to understand the benefits provided fully.

RELATED: Are pre-owned cars reliable to buy? Why are used vehicles so expensive right now?

Dissecting the Certification Process

Inspections and Reconditioning

A certified used car undergoes a thorough multipoint inspection and reconditioning process by the manufacturer. 

This way, you can be assured of the car’s condition. The inspection ensures any issues that need addressing have been handled, making the car like new for you.

Vehicle History Check

Your certified car also has a vehicle history report from Carfax or AutoCheck. This report includes the VIN, ownership history, and other crucial information to provide transparency and peace of mind regarding the car’s history. So, relax and enjoy your certified pre-owned vehicle with confidence!

Analyzing Certified Used Car Benefits

Warranty and Roadside Assistance

When you buy a certified used car, you enjoy the benefits of a manufacturer-backed warranty. These warranties often include a limited powertrain warranty and sometimes a bumper-to-bumper warranty.

In addition, you may receive complimentary roadside assistance for added peace of mind during your travels.

Low Mileage and Accident-Free Vehicles

Certified used cars are often low mileage and accident-free, so you get a gently used vehicle in good condition. 

These vehicles typically undergo a thorough inspection and reconditioning process, ensuring their quality and reliability for your driving needs.

How Much Does a CPO Vehicle Cost?

A Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) vehicle can cost more than a non-certified used car. This is because a CPO vehicle has undergone thorough inspections and necessary repairs, ensuring high quality and reliability.

CPO programs also incur fees for dealers and manufacturers, adding to the overall price. However, you’ll benefit from a well-maintained vehicle, guaranteeing peace of mind in the long run. Factors like make, model, and mileage can also affect pricing.

CPO Programs by Major Automakers

Toyota CPO Program

Toyota offers a comprehensive Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) program for buyers seeking reliability and peace of mind. Their program includes a 160-point inspection and a 7-year/100,000-mile limited powertrain warranty.

Ram CPO Program

The Ram CPO program features a rigorous 125-point inspection for all certified vehicles. Purchasing a Ram CPO vehicle grants you a 3-month/3,000-mile maximum care warranty and a 7-year/100,000-mile powertrain limited warranty.

Honda CPO Program

You’ll benefit from their HondaTrue Certified warranty when purchasing a certified Honda. The program offers a 7-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty and a 1-year/12,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty.

BMW CPO Program

The BMW CPO program gives you confidence when buying a luxury vehicle. BMW CPO vehicles undergo a thorough inspection and include a 1-year/Unlimited-mile protection plan after the original 4-year/50,000-mile warranty expires.

Chevrolet CPO Program

Chevrolet’s CPO program covers vehicles with a 6-year/100,000-mile limited powertrain warranty and a 12-month/12,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty. As part of the Chevrolet CPO program, vehicles must pass a strict 172-point inspection.

Mercedes-Benz CPO Program

A certified pre-owned Mercedes-Benz offers luxury and peace of mind. The Mercedes-Benz CPO program provides a 12-month/unlimited-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty once the original 4-year/50,000-mile warranty expires.

Nissan CPO Program

Nissan’s CPO program guarantees quality with a thorough 167-point inspection. Certified Nissan vehicles come with a 7-year/100,000-mile limited powertrain warranty, 24-hour roadside assistance, and a free CARFAX vehicle history report.

Acura CPO Program

You can expect a comprehensive 182-point inspection and a 7-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty for an Acura CPO vehicle. You’ll also benefit from a 12-month/12,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty after the expiration of the original contract.

Which CPO Program Should I Choose?

The best CPO program for you will depend on your needs, priorities, and the vehicle you’re interested in.

A well-rounded CPO program should include a thorough inspection, a comprehensive warranty, and additional perks like roadside assistance.

L Certified by Lexus

Considering the various available CPO programs, the L Certified by Lexus has earned the title of the Best CPO Program for the fifth consecutive year. This program stands out for its warranty coverage and perks, ensuring reliability and peace of mind.

Before making your final decision, take the time to research and compare multiple CPO programs. Check for differences in warranties, inspection processes, and additional benefits.

Pros and Cons of Certified Used Cars

On one hand, a certified pre-owned (CPO) vehicle comes with a manufacturer-backed warranty, providing you with more peace of mind.

CPO cars undergo thorough inspections by factory-trained mechanics, ensuring the vehicle’s quality and performance.

However, there are some disadvantages to purchasing a CPO vehicle. These cars often have a higher price tag than non-certified used vehicles. 

Additionally, CPO programs may vary widely among manufacturers and dealerships, so reviewing their terms and coverage is crucial.

Practical Considerations for Buying Certified Used Cars

Research and Vehicle Comparison

Before diving into the used car market, do your research. Look for late-model cars, lease returns, and trade-in vehicles, often with lower mileage.

Check Kelley Blue Book to compare prices and read consumer reviews to get insights on vehicle reliability.

Test Drive and Independent Inspection

It’s crucial to take the used car for a test drive. Pay close attention to how the car feels on the road and make note of potential issues. Once you’ve narrowed your options, have an independent mechanic inspect the vehicle to ensure it’s in good condition.

Price Negotiation and Financing Options

When you’re ready to buy, don’t hesitate to negotiate the price based on your research. Look for special financing offers, or check with your bank for loan options. Certified used cars may cost more but offer additional peace of mind.

How Does a Luxury CPO Program Work?

You can expect a thorough inspection and warranty coverage when considering a luxury-certified pre-owned (CPO) vehicle. Manufacturers certify their used cars to ensure they’re in top condition.

Typically, luxury CPO programs include multipoint inspections and limited warranty coverage. For example, the L/Certified program offers bumper-to-bumper warranty coverage for up to six years, starting from the vehicle’s initial purchase date, with no mileage limits.

Buying a luxury CPO car means getting quality and peace of mind at a lower cost than new vehicles, making it a wise option when shopping for your next car.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the benefits of purchasing a certified pre-owned car?

Purchasing a certified pre-owned (CPO) car has several benefits, including a manufacturer-backed warranty, a thorough inspection process, and typically lower mileage. CPO cars are in better condition than regular used cars and often provide more peace of mind for buyers.

Moreover, you can save money compared to buying a new car while enjoying a reliable, well-maintained vehicle.

Can a dealer be asked to certify a car?

Yes, you can ask a dealer to certify a car. However, remember that not all dealerships or manufacturers may offer this option. Certification processes and criteria vary, so it is crucial to research and discuss the available certification options with the dealer.

How much does certification cost for a dealer?

The certification cost for a dealer can vary depending on the manufacturer and the requirements of their CPO program. Generally, certification involves a detailed inspection and required reconditioning, which can result in additional costs for the dealership.

What does a certified pre-owned warranty cover?

A CPO warranty typically covers the vehicle’s major components, offering additional protection compared to typical used car warranties.

The coverage can vary depending on the manufacturer and may include some complimentary services, such as roadside assistance. Always review the warranty information and ask questions to understand the coverage provided.

How does a certified car differ from a regular used car?

A certified car undergoes a rigorous inspection and reconditioning to ensure it meets the manufacturer’s specific quality standards. CPO vehicles are typically newer, have lower mileage, and are in excellent condition compared to regular used cars.

Are certified pre-owned car prices negotiable?

CPO car prices may vary depending on the dealership and market conditions. It’s essential to research average prices for similar CPO models and remember that certification can add to the overall cost. Approach negotiations politely and be prepared to justify your offer based on market data.


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