Buying Used vs. Certified Pre-Owned Vehicles

By KBB Editors 01/21/2021 9:29am

Used vs. certified pre-owned cars

Learn about the pros and cons of a used vs. a Certified Pre-Owned vehicle.

Everyone knows about used cars. But not everyone has heard about Certified Pre-Owned vehicles. These are cars and trucks that represent the best deals in the car business.

Part of the reason has to do with depreciation, which follows a curve and ranks at its steepest when any car is new. But, as time passes, the curve begins to level out. A new-car buyer pays a huge penalty for the initial depreciation. But subsequent buyers of that car have much smaller losses. Careful used car buyers take advantage of the first buyer paying off that initial large depreciation and save themselves lots of money.

The downside is that it’s no longer a new car. Who knows what abuses the car suffered, what maintenance got ignored and how its previous owner drove the car.

With any used-car deal there is always a certain level of trepidation about its past and, therefore, its future.

Used vs. CPO Peace of Mind

Certified Pre-Owned programs bring peace of mind to the used-car market. Just about all manufacturers offer CPO programs backed by the factory. Not all non-CPO used cars can offer the same.

How Certified Pre-Owned Programs Work

  • Clean car. It begins with an exceptionally clean used car which must meet certain standards of age and mileage – too old or too many miles and it’s not considered.
  • Standards for condition. The vehicle must meet certain standards for condition — if it shows major damage, or has mechanical issues or other problems, it’s not considered.
  • Reconditioning. All Certified Pre-Owned cars go through reconditioning if needed. Reconditioning takes care of any necessary repairs to the paint and body, mechanical components and interior. It may get a brake job, perhaps the vehicle needs all new tires.
  • Comprehensive inspection. A Certified Pre-Owned car must pass a comprehensive inspection process which, typically, will cover as many as 150 or more points. Let there be no doubt: A CPO is a cream puff.

Used Cars vs. Certified Pre-Owned Vehicle Warranties 

And there’s more. Certified Pre-Owned vehicles come with warranties that, typically, either go on top of — or extend — whatever is remaining. For example, there may be 12 months/12,000 miles of additional warranty that begins either at the end of the original new-car warranty or from the certified purchase date.

Some plans give warranty coverage of up to 72 months and 100,000 miles from the original in-service date. There may be an additional powertrain warranty. Most CPO plans include 24-hour roadside assistance and a vehicle history report.

Another benefit: CPO vehicles can oftentimes be financed and even leased through the dealership.

Overall better cars that have been given substantial service and reconditioning, carry far superior warranties and deliver a vast improvement in peace of mind.

Used Car Advantages

Used cars vs. Certified Pre-Owned cars offer several advantages. Used car cost remains one of the biggest because it’s a non-CPO vehicle.

If you want to keep your cash outlay as low as possible, then consider buying a standard used car for its lower cost. The used-car market offers something in a price range for just about anybody.

Still, you remain on your own in determining if the car is in good shape or a potential lemon. If you lack mechanical expertise it’s a good idea to bring one along. You could also bring somebody who does know how to spot the dangers. However, there’s always a risk.

Final Word

Certified Pre-Owned vehicles, thanks to their reconditioning, extensive inspection and extended warranty coverage offer a demonstrated ]ability to deliver buyer satisfaction. This leads to large numbers of owners returning to CPO purchases for this kind of vehicle.