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Did you know there are more used cars on the market today than ever? And, that the general quality level of these cars is higher, too?
That’s due to a few factors, including the popularity of leased cars. So, when you combine the amount of used cars available with the overall improved condition of these cars, plenty of outstanding values abound, just waiting for you to find them.
But, many buyers hesitate to consider the used car market because of its dubious past, and the fear of dealing with the unknown. Certified pre-owned (CPO) programs address many of these concerns, and present a sound option for many car buyers.
These cars have been inspected and repaired by a mechanic and given some sort of guarantee or warranty.
The quality of the inspections, repairs, and warranties varies widely. Inspections differ in the number of aspects that are checked. Repairs vary as to what gets fixed and to what extent. (Some programs offer “reconditioning” which brings the car back to “like new” status, while others don’t promise this.) Warranties differ due to who is backing them―the dealer or the manufacturer―and the terms of the guarantee.
Most industry experts favor factory-based CPO vehicles. Generally, these vehicles face more stringent standards, and undergo more thorough inspections and repairs. Because the warranty is backed by the manufacturer, you typically have a much wider selection of repair locations than with dealer-backed warranties. And, unlike most dealer warranties, you don’t have to buy the warranty.
Almost all CPO programs mention how many “points” or aspects of the vehicle they check. While a 150-point inspection may sound more thorough than a 300-point check-up, don’t be misled. Many of these inspections cover the same things; it’s just that the inspection points are calculated differently.
The best way to judge the comprehensiveness of an inspection is simply to ask exactly what is being reviewed, and compare your findings with other programs.
Warranties vary wildly in terms of what they cover, the length of coverage, and the cost to you. Protection can run from a single year to several, and the mileage allowance differs greatly, too. Deductibles range from nothing to a few hundred dollars. Also, many warranties begin after the car’s original warranty expires.
Quite a few pre-owned autos come with nice extras, like a free vehicle history report and 24/7 roadside assistance.
Pre-owned programs make a lot of sense for most people. They offer cars that have already been inspected and repaired, and come with an additional warranty that can protect you from major repair bills―at least for a length of time.
They also provide a peace of mind and convenience generally not found when simply buying any used car off a lot or from a private seller. And, if you decide to sell the car, the certified/warranty aspect can facilitate the sale.
However, cars backed with CPO programs tend to have higher price tags.
Additionally, your mechanic could simply inspect a non-certified car and, if repairs are needed, you could use these findings to negotiate a lower purchase price. Then, if you prefer, you could buy an extended warranty from the dealer or a third-party provider, and essentially build your owned certified program.