Buying a Certified Pre-Owned Vehicle
A Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) vehicle is a used vehicle which has been inspected and refurbished to ensure the vehicle measures up to rigorous quality standards. A CPO vehicle is usually backed by a manufacturer’s warranty, often in the form on an extended warranty. CPO cars are not new, they emerged in the early 90s from the luxury car market, with companies like Lexus and Mercedes-Benz releasing used off-lease vehicles that had relatively few miles on the clock. Some manufacturers such as GM and Acura even have a return and exchange policy for CPO vehicles.
The general used vehicle industry quickly caught on that certification of used vehicles was an attractive selling point to used car buyers, and now CPO vehicles are becoming more and more prevalent. This is good for consumers because it’s now possible to buy a used car for a much cheaper cost than its brand new equivalent, while being reassured that the car isn’t going to flake out on you any time soon – at least not without the option of being repaired under warranty.But there are some differences in how vehicles are labelled as CPO, so it’s important to be aware of what you’re getting when you investigate buying a certified pre-owned vehicle. For example manufacturer (or “factory”) CPO cars are sold only by authorized dealers of that manufacturer. These vehicles are usually less than five years old and have less than 80,000 miles on the clock. Factory CPO vehicles attract the highest prices because you can be assured of getting a fairly solid vehicle that doesn’t have much wear and tear, is certified by the manufacturer, and often carries a manufacturer’s extended warranty.
Independently certified pre-owned vehicles however, as the name implies, are certified by an independent dealer and usually haven’t gone anywhere near the original manufacturer since leaving the factory floor. This is not necessarily a bad thing – many dealers employ third party inspectors and the process will often be just as, or sometimes even more, rigorous as factory certification. But as with any type of independent service, there can be discrepancies in the quality being offered.So it’s important when looking at CPO cars, trucks, or motorcycles with the intention of buying, that you ask which type of certification the vehicle in question has. There are large differences in different types of warranties and what’s included in each, so be sure to read the fine print to see what’s covered in each situation. So too will there be differences in the way the vehicles are inspected. The inspection at a Mercedes factory might be very different to the inspection that takes place at your local used car lot, so take a good look at the inspection papers to see who did the inspection and repairs, if any.