If you’ve ever wondered what the difference is between “used” and “certified pre-owned” is and whether CPO vehicles are really better than used ones, we’re here to answer your questions.
When dealerships get used vehicles through trade-ins, likely candidates for certified status are put through a rigorous series of tests that essentially determine whether the vehicle is up to snuff. To be certified, cars typically have to be under a certain number of miles, be free of major cosmetic flaws, and run like new.
Certified cars aren’t more than a few years old, whereas you might buy a used vehicle from a dealership that’s much older. CPOs must have clean titles and a clear CARFAX report, so you know when you buy a CPO vehicle that it hasn’t been in any major accidents that might cause issues. A CPO vehicle generally comes with excellent warranties you just won’t get with a non-certified used car.
You might be perfectly comfortable with this and want an older, non-certified car for the lower payments. Just like new cars will be a bit better quality than CPO cars, CPOs will be a bit better than used cars, and any of the three can be right for you based on your circumstances. Used cars, especially older ones, will keep your insurance low, so they’re all-around more affordable, except for when they break down.
Plus, you can buy a used car and then “certify” it yourself by having a mechanic perform a multi-point inspection and purchasing an extended warranty, still for less than you’d pay for a CPO vehicle. Time-consuming but cheaper!
It’s all up to you. For a simple, secure buying and owning experience, go with CPO, but if you like to work on cars and get involved in the process, go used.