Car Buyer Labs

Car Buying Advice, Tips, and Reviews

A green 2016 Ford Edge is shown driving on a city street after leaving a certified used SUV dealer.

A Guide to Your Favorite Automakers’ CPO Programs

If you’re in the market for a pre-owned vehicle large enough to accommodate you and your family, shopping at a certified used SUV dealer can be a great way to ensure you’re making a safe purchase. Unlike standard used vehicles, Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) vehicles go through a rigorous inspection set by the manufacturer to ensure they’re in excellent shape, and they’ll have a mileage and model year limit set. Best of all, CPO vehicles come with a variety of warranties and other benefits, so if a mechanical issue arises, you’ll be protected.

Not all CPO warranties are created the same; they vary from automaker to automaker. Each has its own set of standards, inspection process, and warranties with unique parameters. Most include a powertrain warranty covering the engine and related parts and a comprehensive or bumper-to-bumper warranty covering everything else. Keep in mind these warranties are for damages related to manufacturing errors only, so anything involving an accident or normal wear and tear would not be covered. If you’re interested in buying a CPO vehicle, being familiar with that automaker’s program may help you decide which brand will best fit you. Let’s take a look at what some of them offer.

The Ford Blue Advantage

Ford’s CPO warranty program is broken down into a tiered system; a CPO can either be Blue Certified or Gold Certified, depending on its condition. A Blue Certified CPO must pass a 139-point inspection, be under ten years old, and have less than 120,000 miles on the odometer. As part of the inspection, the dealership will also include a CARFAX vehicle history report. The warranty for this type of CPO is comprehensive, covering 1,000+ components on the car, including the transmission, powertrain, and electrical components. If a manufacturing-related breakdown occurs within 90 days of you owning the vehicle or before you drive it 4,000 miles, the dealership will take care of the repair for you. In addition to the 90-day/4,000-mile comprehensive limited warranty, you also get a 14-day/1,000-mile money-back guarantee.

A Gold Certified CPO is held to a higher standard, needing to pass a 172-point inspection, have fewer than 80,000 miles, and be less than six years old. Similarly, the warranties for a Gold Certified CPO are more extensive, which include a 12-month/12,000-mile comprehensive limited warranty, a 7-year/100,000-year powertrain limited warranty, and a money-back guarantee. If you’re unhappy with your CPO, you have 14 days or 1,000 miles from when you purchased it to return the vehicle.

A silver 2019 Buick Envision is shown from the rear parked in a driveway surrounded by shrubs.

The GM Certified Pre-Owned Program

Chevy, Buick, and GMC offer the same benefits through their CPO programs. Each vehicle must pass a 172-point inspection and have any safety recall completed before being sold. For the vehicle to be eligible for CPO status, it has to be no more than six years old and have fewer than 75,000 miles. A Chevy, Buick, or GMC CPO comes with a powertrain and bumper-to-bumper warranty. The former lasts six years or 100,000 miles from the vehicle’s original sale, while the latter lasts for one year or 12,000 miles from the date of your purchase. If the warranty is needed, the customer does not have to pay a deductible for the repair.

The Honda Certified Pre-Owned Program

Like Ford, Honda uses a tiered system for their CPOs, with three different levels to choose from. All Honda CPOs are required to pass a 182-point inspection regardless of tier. The first tier, HondaTrue Used, applies to vehicles ten years old or less and doesn’t have a mileage limit. The comprehensive warranty last for 100 days or 5,000 miles from the date of your purchase, and buyers can get a complimentary oil change within their first year of ownership.

The next tier is called HondaTrue Certified and is for CPOs six years old or less with fewer than 80,000 miles. Its powertrain coverage lasts for seven years or 100,000 miles, and its bumper-to-bumper coverage extends the new vehicle limited warranty to four years or 48,000 miles if applicable. If the CPO is no longer protected by the new vehicle limited warranty, a HondaTrue Certified will have a bumper-to-bumper warranty for one year after your purchase or 12,000 miles.

The final tier of Honda’s CPO program is the most exclusive, dubbed HondaTrue Certified+. It applies to vehicles one-year-old or less with fewer than 12,000 miles. Its powertrain warranty lasts seven years from the vehicle’s original sale or before it’s been driven 100,000 miles. The bumper-to-bumper coverage lasts five years from the original sale or 86,000 miles. Two complimentary oil changes are included with this level of CPO, and there is no deductible should a covered repair be needed.

The Toyota Certified Used Program

Every Toyota CPO passes a 160-point inspection and undergoes a rigorous reconditioning process to get it in the best possible shape. If it’s more than seven years old or has more than 85,000 miles, it’s a non-starter for Toyota’s CPO program. The powertrain warranty depends on whether you’re dealing with a gasoline or hybrid powertrain. Gasoline vehicles have a seven-year or 100,000-mile warranty, while hybrid powertrains get eight years or 100,000 miles. In both cases, the coverage countdown starts from the vehicle’s original date of sale. The bumper-to-bumper warranty lasts for one year or 12,000 miles from the date you purchase the CPO. Roadside assistance will last for the duration of the powertrain warranty.

A red 2022 Dodge Durango SRT 392 is shown from the front driving on an open road.

The Stellantis Certified Pre-Owned Program

Popular brands like Jeep, Chrysler, Fiat, Dodge, and Ram are all under the Stellantis brand and, as such, share a CPO program. To qualify, a vehicle must pass a 125-point inspection, still be protected by the original manufacturer warranty, and have fewer than 75,000 miles. The seven-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty starts when the vehicle was originally sold, and an additional maximum care warranty will last for three months or 3,000 miles after your purchase. A $100 deductible does apply for covered repairs.

The Subaru Certified Pre-Owned Program

Subaru’s inspection for CPOs covers 152 different areas. Eligible vehicles must be no more than five years old and have fewer than 80,000 miles. Their powertrain warranty lasts seven years or 100,000 miles from the original purchase. When you buy a Subaru CPO, your purchase includes roadside assistance, and there’s no deductible if the vehicle requires a warranty-covered repair. Subaru’s CPOs do not come with a bumper-to-bumper warranty plan, but a few options can be bought for an additional price.

More Than Just a Used Vehicle

Buying a used vehicle can be a great way to save money while still getting a quality vehicle; however, there are associated risks. You often can’t tell if there are any issues with a vehicle just by looking at it. Buying a used car with major mechanical issues can end up costing more than a new vehicle in the long run if you’re stuck paying out of pocket for extensive repairs to keep the vehicle running.

Buying a CPO takes the risk out of used car shopping for a couple reasons. First, every CPO has passed an extensive inspection, so you can shop knowing the vehicle has no major issues. Secondly, you’ll be protected if a manufacturing error affects the vehicle’s performance. It happens, and it’s reassuring to know you won’t be financially responsible for those kinds of repairs if the vehicle has a warranty. Although CPOs tend to be priced higher than non certified used vehicles, the peace of mind that comes with them can be well worth the cost.