Car Buyer Labs

Car Buying Advice, Tips, and Reviews

A certified pre-owned 2018 Chevy Equinox is shown from the front while driving on a highway.

Does Certified Pre-Owned Mean Certified Reliability?

Pre-owned vehicles are quite popular, but more notably, they are a crucial part of the automotive industry. Every vehicle will become pre-owned at some point, but not all of them perform as they once did. When you’re purchasing a used vehicle, there’s a distinct layer of trust you must form with the seller as you wouldn’t want to be misled into purchasing a broken vehicle. The very last thing you’d want to hear before buying a vehicle is an explanation of why the brakes need replacing soon or why there is a loud rattling sound under the car.

But what if you were able to buy a used vehicle with the guarantee of a reliable and fully-functional vehicle with an extensive warranty to top it all off? This is all made possible when shopping for certified pre-owned cars (CPO). If any of this sounds appealing to you, you may be asking yourself where you can find CPO vehicles and if you should consider purchasing one for yourself.

Where Can I Find a CPO Vehicle?

You can find a CPO vehicle at a wide range of dealerships. Many dealerships offer a separate catalog from their regular pre-owned selection that exclusively includes CPO vehicles. This has many advantages because dealerships provide a much more trustworthy and safer experience than purchasing from a private seller. Each dealership that offers CPO vehicles will honor the purchase with their respective warranty, and they will personally ensure the vehicle is in working order before you make your purchase. Simply put, a reputable dealership is the best place to purchase a pre-owned vehicle, including CPO vehicles.

Two hands are shaking and handing over car keys in front of a black car,

What’s The Difference?

Unlike traditional pre-owned vehicles, CPO vehicles have been carefully selected after a rigorous inspection process that qualifies them as CPO. Many dealerships will leave no stone unturned during the process, and if any potential problems arise, they will be ironed out immediately. If a vehicle’s damage cannot be repaired, the vehicle will simply not be eligible for CPO status. This is a substantial benefit as traditional pre-owned vehicles often don’t go through much of an inspection process, especially when buying from a private seller. The inspection process also helps build the aforementioned layer of trust, which is a crucial component of pre-owned vehicle shopping.

Another way that CPO vehicles are differentiated from traditional pre-owned vehicles is by coming with a generous warranty. The warranties associated with CPO vehicles are provided by the manufacturer and are commonly between 3-5 years in length. Each CPO vehicle also comes with a limited powertrain warranty, some of which provide coverage for up to 100,000 miles. Should your vehicle begin to malfunction before your warranties expire, you’ll be fully covered with a wide range of repairs and servicing.

In comparison to traditional pre-owned vehicles, this is a monumental advantage for CPO cars. Warranties are normally not provided to drivers who purchase a normal pre-owned car, whether it’s from a private seller or even a dealership. But with the CPO warranties provided by the manufacturer, you can even get servicing at a multitude of brand-name dealerships and mechanics rather than just the dealership that you purchased the vehicle at.

For a vehicle to be eligible for CPO status, it must be under specific age and milage limits. This guarantees that the vehicle you’re purchasing will be less prone to failure as it won’t be degraded from extended use. Since CPO vehicles are not old vehicles, they often contain a host of modern feature sets you would find on brand new vehicles today. Among the features that you’re likely to see are an array of safety features along with modern tech-centric features such as infotainment centers.

A primary concern many drivers have when shopping for a pre-owned vehicle is the lack of relevancy as they don’t want to purchase something which is already obsolete. This does come at a cost, however, as CPO vehicles are usually pricier than traditional pre-owned vehicles. But for guaranteed reliability, it’s a small price to pay.

Depending on the dealership you purchase your CPO vehicle from, it may include extra services such as roadside assistance. Having roadside assistance with your vehicle is an important addition should you ever require it. Whether you get a flat tire or run out of gas, roadside assistance has got you covered. Many times, if your vehicle requires repairs and you’re out of town when it breaks down, the roadside assistance accompanied by your CPO vehicle will pay for lodging. Dealerships often offer roadside assistance packages for traditional pre-owned vehicles, but only with CPO vehicles would they come at no additional cost.

Should I Get A CPO Vehicle?

A row of certified pre-owned cars is shown on a car lot.

CPO vehicles are easy to recommend to many different types of drivers. For those looking to get the reliability normally seen with brand new vehicles but also save money at the same time, there’s no better answer than a CPO vehicle. Once you’ve purchased a CPO vehicle, you’ll never want to purchase a traditional used vehicle again. We’ve all heard the horror stories relating to pre-owned vehicles that aren’t properly maintained, resulting in costly repairs after the initial purchase. This is a problem nobody wants to deal with, and the best way to avoid similar troubles is to shop for a CPO vehicle.

Even with the additional cost over a traditional pre-owned vehicle, the additions such as a manufacturer warranty lends a CPO vehicle a brand new feeling. The warranty associated with each CPO vehicle serves as a safety net of sorts, meaning you can drive with confidence. Couple this with the initial inspection the dealership performs before you purchase the vehicle, and you will not have to second guess yourself on whether or not your vehicle will soon find itself in need of repairs. If you’ve ever had a bad experience with a pre-owned vehicle and therefore don’t trust them, you should check your local dealership’s CPO selection as it will change your perspective on pre-owned vehicles.

What About Traditional Pre-Owned Vehicles?

CPO vehicles don’t eliminate traditional pre-owned vehicles; they simply give customers more choice. Some drivers understandably don’t want to drive a brand new vehicle due to several factors, including vehicle depreciation. A driver may be worried about spending their hard-earned money on a pre-owned vehicle just to bring it into the shop for repairs a few months down the line. CPO vehicles serve as the perfect middle ground between new and used, and because of this, they allow drivers to choose what kind of experience they wish to have.

As previously mentioned, shopping for a traditional used vehicle can be a gamble, meaning it can either go in your favor or the opposite. By eliminating the gamble factor associated with used vehicle shopping, you’re left with a vehicle that is always in your favor. It’s not perfect as the aforementioned price increase is sure to turn some heads away, and a CPO car is still a used vehicle at the end of the day.

Every vehicle will eventually malfunction in some way, but it’s with the extra coverage you get when purchasing a CPO vehicle with a manufacturer warranty, you’ll be in a much better position. Of course, not all traditional pre-owned vehicles are the same, and by doing your research correctly and asking the right questions, you shouldn’t have any problems. Choice has always been a customer’s best friend when shopping for a vehicle, and CPO vehicles should be your next choice.