Are Certified Pre-Owned Cars Really Better?

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There’s a lot of stress involved in shopping for a car. Anything a dealer can do to make the process easier is definitely welcome. Buying a used car comes with its risks, but being able to purchase a model that you might not have been able to afford new could be worth it.
Some dealerships offer Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) vehicles. While that may set your mind at ease, here are some things you should consider when shopping for a CPO vehicle.
Closeup of the front end of a gray sedan parked in a lot
You want to make sure that a used car is in good condition before you buy it.

What is a Certified Pre-Owned vehicle?

A Certified Pre-Owned vehicle is a used vehicle with a certification that shows it’s been thoroughly checked and vetted before it was put on sale. CPO vehicles are often sold with an extended warranty, and may even come with other incentives.
These incentives can include free loaners if your CPO vehicle needs repairs or a discounted finance percentage on your auto loan. It may even come with roadside assistance and many other perks associated with buying a new vehicle.
Certified Pre-Owned vehicles are often handpicked by the dealership. They tend to have lower mileage than their counterparts and are often in mint, or nearly mint, condition.
A Certified Pre-Owned label speaks to reliability. It helps to take the anxiety out of buying a used vehicle that you don’t know the history of. It’s easy to assume that these cars are better than regular used cars, but that’s not always the case.

A Certified Pre-Owned vehicle isn’t always better

Consumer Reports says you should be skeptical about Certified Pre-Owned vehicles. As good as multi-point inspections and extended warranties sound, they may not be worth the extra money. A CPO vehicle can cost thousands of dollars more than the regular used car model.
There isn’t a standard certification process for a vehicle to get the coveted CPO status. Used cars can be advertised or labeled as certified without going through the official automaker’s inspection.
There are even third-party certifications. Without knowing exactly what was inspected, you have no way of knowing for sure if the used car has had a thorough check.
You may find that the warranty that came with the car doesn’t apply to certain repairs, especially if you go to a shop other than the original dealership. Even with a CPO label on a used car, you may still be stuck with repairs.

You should still inspect the car yourself

When looking for a used vehicle, you don’t need to automatically exclude a car that isn’t Certified Pre-Owned. Many small issues could prevent a car from receiving a CPO label, including minor cosmetic damage, higher mileage, or minor repairs.
If you’re looking at a CPO vehicle, it’s a good idea to ask questions about the process of certification. You could potentially be spending more money than you want for a car that has hidden damages.
Before buying any used car, whether it’s a CPO vehicle or not, it’s still more reliable to have it looked at by an independent mechanic. You can even inspect the car yourself for any damaged components. Consumer Reports has reported instances where CPO vehicles failed independent inspections.
You might also want to do some research on the cars you’re interested in. You can check Consumer Reports for lists of dependable used cars. Once you find a car that you like, you can look up the Vehicle Identification Number with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration tool to check for any recalls. CarFax can provide you with any accident reports.
After you buy your used car, you can save money on car insurance with Jerry. The AI-powered app can help you save even more by comparing rates from 50 top insurance companies to get you the best price for the coverage you need.

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