Certified pre-owned Toyota Prado in dealer, with text buying certified pre-owned cars (CPO).
  • Post last modified:October 17, 2023

Certified Pre-Owned Cars: Your Ultimate Guide

Learn about the benefits of certified pre-owned cars and how to make an informed buying decision.

Purchasing a car is a decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly as it involves an investment. While new cars are appealing, there’s an alternative: pre-owned (CPO) cars. In this guide, we will delve into the realm of pre-owned cars and provide you with valuable insights to help you make an informed choice when buying your next vehicle.

What is a Certified Pre-Owned Car?

A certified pre-owned car refers to a vehicle that has undergone an inspection, refurbishment, and certification process by either the manufacturer or a dealership. Typically these cars are models with low mileage and often come with an extended warranty. Through the certification process, these vehicles meet quality and condition standards making them trustworthy options for buyers.

What Is the Difference Between a Certified Car and a Used Car?

The primary distinction between a certified car and a used car is that a certified car has undergone inspection and certification from the manufacturer. This ensures that the car meets standards for quality and reliability. Additionally, certified cars often come with a manufacturer’s warranty.

On the other hand, pre-owned cars have not undergone inspection or certification from the manufacturer. As a result, buyers of used conduct their research to assess its condition and dependability. Furthermore pre-owned generally do not come with a manufacturer’s warranty.

Here Is a Table That Summarizes the Key Differences Between Certified Cars and Used Cars:

FeatureCertified CarUsed Car
Inspected and certified by the manufacturerYesNo
Warranty from the manufacturerYesNo or limited warranty
Typically in good condition and reliableYesMay or may not be in good condition or reliable
Typically holds its value betterYesMay or may not hold its value as well
Certified Pre-Owned Cars vs Non-Certified Used Cars

In summary, certified cars are a choice for buyers seeking a car in good condition with warranty coverage. Pre-owned cars can be suitable for budget buyers or those seeking vehicles not available as certified pre-owned models.

It is important to note that certified car programs vary among manufacturers. Some have different standards than others. Compare programs and select one that aligns with your requirements.

Certified pre-owned (CPO) vehicles may have a price tag compared to used cars. This is because they offer the added benefit of a warranty and thorough inspection conducted by the manufacturer. However, for buyers, the peace of mind that comes with owning a certified vehicle could make the additional cost worthwhile.

On the other hand, if you are willing to invest time in research and carefully inspecting a car, it can often be a great deal. You might come across a well-maintained used car at a lower price. Here’s a Free Used Car Inspection Checklist to help you and check our 5 tips for safeguarding against used car fraud.

Ultimately, deciding between buying certified used is to consider the advantages and disadvantages of each option and choose based on what suits your needs.

Advantages of Certified Pre-Owned Cars

Enhanced Reliability

One of the benefits of CPO cars lies in their enhanced reliability. Manufacturers and dealerships invest time and resources into inspecting and refurbishing these vehicles ensuring they are in excellent condition.

Warranty Coverage

Most CPO cars offer the added advantage of a warranty. This provides peace of mind while safeguarding your investment.
You will be provided with insurance that covers repairs potentially saving you money in the long term.

Lessened Depreciation

Brand-new vehicles tend to lose a portion of their value within a few years. However, certified pre-owned (CPO) cars have already experienced some depreciation as they are slightly used. This means that when you drive off the lot you won’t face as drastic of a drop, in value.

Thorough Inspection

Certified pre-owned cars undergo an inspection process that carefully evaluates all components. Any issues found during this inspection are resolved before the car is certified ensuring that it is in a roadworthy and good mechanical condition.

What to Consider when Buying a CPO Car

When searching for a certified owned car there are several important factors to take into account. Consumer Reports has a team of experts who review certified pre-owned cars. To view local pre-owned vehicles alongside our trusted car reviews & ratings, visit the Consumer Reports website.

Certification Program

Different manufacturers and dealerships offer their CPO programs, each with its benefits and requirements. It is essential to research and understand the program offered by the seller.

Vehicle History Report

Obtaining a vehicle history report provides information about the car’s past, including its accident history, title status, and maintenance records. Most dealers provide this report to buyers free of charge. Keep in mind that a certified pre-owned (CPO) car is essentially a used car. Even though they have been inspected and repaired, they have still been driven for years. It is still advisable to have an independent pre-purchase car inspection performed.

Warranty Coverage

Carefully review the details of the warranty coverage such as its duration. Which components are included? Ensure that it aligns with your needs and expectations.

Review Checklist

Make sure to ask for the inspection checklist to understand which components were examined and repaired during the certification process.

Price Comparison

Be sure to compare the price of the certified pre-owned (CPO) car with similar new or used models. It’s important to ensure the price is comparable to the car’s age, mileage, and overall condition. Luckily, the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) now includes CPO values in its Used Car Guide.

Final Thoughts

Certified pre-owned cars provide a ground, between buying brand-new or used vehicles. They offer peace of mind through their inspection process, warranty coverage, and reduced depreciation. However, it’s crucial to conduct research by looking into the certification program reviewing vehicle history reports, and comparing prices. By following these guidelines you’ll be well prepared to decide and drive away in a certified pre-owned car that meets your needs and budget. Enjoy your car shopping experience!