Car Buyer Labs

Car Buying Advice, Tips, and Reviews

Why a Certified Pre-Owned Vehicle is a Win-Win

With all this talk about certified pre-owned vehicles not being as safe to buy as the manufacturers and dealers lead you to believe, many people are failing to realize one thing that makes a certified pre-owned vehicle a win-win: the manufacturer’s warranty. Since certified pre-owned vehicles are fixed-up and then sold (guaranteed) in like-new condition, theoretically they are a great deal. At the end of the day, it’s still a used car with low miles, refurbished or replaced parts (even things like radio knobs), for a lower price than a new car. All with refreshed and lengthier warranties, to give you peace of mind before and after the purchase.

It’s that warranty that makes a certified pre-owned vehicle a win-win purchase. Even if something does break on the vehicle, it’s covered under warranty.

What People Are Saying

Whether it’s on TV, online, or you hear it from a friend who had a friend that experienced it firsthand, the latest craze claims that certified pre-owned vehicles aren’t being sold as advertised.

The whole idea behind a certified pre-owned vehicle is simple. For it to even qualify as certified pre-owned, it needs to come in under a certain mileage, and can only represent more recent model years. The requirements vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, but you’ll typically see vehicles that are under 100,000 miles and less than five years old.

After a car has met those qualifications, the manufacturer will give it a multi-point inspection – checking every part of the vehicle, even down to things such as the CD player’s functionality. If a part is found broken but in usable condition, the manufacturer will fix it. If it can’t be fixed, the manufacturer will replace it with another one. Then, it’s marketed at a higher price than a used vehicle, but in guaranteed good condition.

That guarantee is where things get dicey. Since there is really no way to know (other than the dealer’s good word) that the certified pre-owned car they’re advertising is, in fact, in that type of good condition. It is still a used vehicle, so if you buy it, there could still be issues that you won’t know about until it’s too late.

That’s Where the Warranty Comes in…

While it’s technically illegal to knowingly sell a clunker as “certified pre-owned,” and dealerships are held accountable for it if they get caught, CPOs come with a great manufacturer warranty.

In the most extreme example, you could buy a CPO and a week later the engine blows up. You call the dealership, they honor the warranty, and you get a new engine installed for free. Sure, it might be inconvenient. But, you aren’t paying for the engine, and the cost of a CPO is still less than buying a new car. On top of that, if that was the only issue, you’re good to go except for costs associated with normal wear and tear.

So yes, make sure to do a thorough inspection and test drive before buying a CPO. But, thanks to the warranty, it’s ultimately a purchase that favors the consumer.