Car Buyer Labs

Car Buying Advice, Tips, and Reviews

A high view of a certified pre-owned Chevy dealer car lot is shown.

Certified Pre-Owned Isn’t Just an Expensive Used Vehicle

Isn’t a certified pre-owned vehicle just a more expensive used vehicle? Whether it has come up in conversation or it has been read on social media, we have all heard or seen this question many times before from our peers, and most of us have even thought of it ourselves while journeying into the car-buying market. Well, the answer to that question is no. When you are looking into affordable vehicle options, like Chevy models that are known for their affordability and reliability, the last thing you want is to buy a lemon, also known as somebody else’s problem. So, why would you want to risk buying a used model, never mind paying extra money for one labeled as certified pre-owned: just as your certified pre-owned Chevy dealer would say, “It’s more than just a used vehicle.”

A salesman is shown speaking to a customer about certified pre-owned Chevy cars.

Why Buy Used Over New?

If you are in the beginning stages of your car-buying journey, you have most likely already come to the crossroads with your buying options. In general, when looking to buy a vehicle you can choose either a new vehicle, with minimal miles on it, if any, from test drives, or you can look into used models that were previously owned and driven by others. There are many benefits to both purchasing options, however, depending on your budget and your driving needs, one option may be more beneficial to you than the other.

Many drivers are discouraged from buying used cars because of the unknowns that come with them. You may never know how the previous driver treated the vehicle, or whether they maintained it or not. You would be purchasing a vehicle with existing wear-and-tear to the exterior, interior, and even the moving parts. Not to mention, there may be thousands of miles on the odometer making any previous transferable warranty invalid to you.

Nobody wants to buy somebody else’s problem, especially with the amount of money that gets invested into buying a car, whether used or new. This is why most people prefer to buy brand new. Their warranties and their lack of history and wear and tear on the vehicle are appealing to potential buyers. People want to feel confident in their investment. Unfortunately, sometimes buying brand new is just not in the budget or it may not be sensible for your needs with a new vehicle. This is when buying used becomes a better option.

Used vehicles are likely to be a lot less expensive than a brand new vehicle, especially if you’re buying a standard used model from a dealership or a private sale. Buying from a dealership will, of course, be a safer purchase than buying from an unknown seller. But a private sale could be the cheapest route for you if you’re looking to pinch as many pennies as possible. Whether you buy from a dealership or a private seller, buying a standard used vehicle comes with plenty of risks.

Even purchasing a standard used vehicle from a dealership does not guarantee that you will end up with a problem-free car, truck, or SUV. Standard used vehicles will not come with much of a warranty, if any at all, which means you are buying the vehicle as-is, with or without hidden problems, both cosmetically and mechanically. Many reputable dealerships will warranty their used vehicles for at least 30 days, but even that is such a small window of time for a vehicle’s problems to appear. And when you end up dealing with a vehicle with an ongoing issue that doesn’t seem like it will ever get resolved, your new vehicle will end up being more of a headache than your previous one was for you.

What Is a Lemon and How Can You Avoid The Headache?

So, what constitutes a vehicle to be considered a lemon? Every state has specific lemon laws but in most states, a vehicle is classified as a lemon when there is a substantial defect covered under a warranty, a certain time frame, or under a specific mileage, which substantially affects the vehicle’s safety or function: like faulty brakes or steering. The vehicle must also have multiple failed attempts at being fixed. No matter which state you reside in, and what their lemon laws consist of, if you end up in this predicament with a new car to you, it’s going to be a headache no matter if it ends well for you or not.

Luckily, the chances of buying lemon vehicles are far and few between these days. Current lemon laws have helped lower the risks of you buying a lemon, but the option to buy a certified pre-owned vehicle also played a key role in lowering your odds of getting a sour vehicle. Sure, you may end up spending a little more on a certified pre-owned car, truck, or SUV versus a standard used one, but isn’t the few extra dollars worth saving you from renting a car so that yours can spend most of its days at the mechanic shop, or even just help you avoid the headache all-together? You’d like to think it is. Well, when you buy a certified pre-owned model, you truly are getting more than just a used car.

A mechanic is shown at a Chevy dealer.

Why Spend More On a Certified Pre-Owned Vehicle?

Many benefits come with buying a certified pre-owned vehicle. One of the most obvious is a warranty. Most certified pre-owned programs provide drivers with vehicles that have met a list of criteria, like specific age and mileage requirements, prior to going through vigorous inspections and reconditioning. Even beyond the inspections, some of the most comprehensive certified pre-owned programs like that offered by General Motors (GM), a vehicle manufacturing company with a history of dedication to drivers and their needs, provide a well-rounded benefits package for buyers.

Some certified pre-owned programs, like those for GM brands, even provide a scheduled maintenance program, factory-backed limited powertrain, and limited bumper-to-bumper warranties with roadside assistance. Plus, they come with a free vehicle history report to make you aware of the car’s past, which gives you the chance to exchange your new pre-owned model within a certain period if it doesn’t satisfy your driving needs. With a package like that, why would you choose any other used model? Buying certified pre-owned is as close to new as you’ll get when you buy used, and yet you’ll be able to drive with confidence in your purchase knowing that you bought an affordable, quality vehicle.

Which Buying Option Is Best For You?

Although everyone’s buying journey is unique, they are all similarly structured. Not only will each person need to determine which type of vehicle will be best, but they will need to decide on whether or not they’re buying new or used. If you decide on buying a used model, you can take a gamble with buying from a private sale or risk buying a standard used vehicle from a dealer. You also have the choice to skip the risk factor and still save money versus buying new, by purchasing a certified pre-owned vehicle. The choice, however, is solely up to you and what you are looking for in both a vehicle and in your purchase. This can be overwhelming and is why it is recommended that you contact your local certified pre-owned Chevy dealer to go over all of your options and help point you in the direction of your next vehicle.