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Buying a Used Car? Certified Pre-Owned Pros and Cons

During these hard economic times, credit is a lot harder to get than it used to be. Shoppers who would ordinarily have searched for a new car might no longer qualify for a loan of that size. Fortunately, they have a less-costly alternative: the Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) car. 


Regular used-car buyers also are tempted by CPO vehicles, which reduce some of the inherent risk. No used car is perfect, but certified models undergo a comprehensive, point-by-point inspection. CPO cars also include warranty coverage. 

Some people simply won't be satisfied with anything that's not new. Others are wholly content with used cars. They're willing to take on the possibility of dealing with a few problems. 

Pro: Certified cars produce "peace of mind" 

A sense of security is the main attraction of purchasing a CPO model. Like new-car buyers, folks who drive home a certified used car shouldn't have to worry about breakdowns and costly repairs. Although it's second-hand, the certified used vehicle is a late-model vehicle that's been inspected before certification. 

Nearly all manufacturers offer a certification program, backed by the factory. Other programs are established by the dealer or another organization, without factory sponsorship. Some include a vehicle history report, which provides details on past accidents, and prior ownership. 


Pro: CPO cars are pre-selected and inspected 

Factory certification programs, backed by the car's manufacturer, have limits on age and mileage. Depending on the automakers, vehicles eligible for certification must be no more than three to six years old, with a maximum of up to 160,000 kilometres on the odometer.  

Dealers follow a checklist of inspection points: typically, 100 to 160. Because they count those spots differently, the exact amount isn't significant. You just need to know that the inspection has been comprehensive. 

When inspection reveals significant problems, repairs have to be made. For that reason, dealers would rather pick the "cream" of the lot for certification. If the car is found to be in good condition as it stands, little additional investment is needed to turn it into a CPO model. 


Pro: Certified-car repairs are covered through warranty period 

CPO vehicles include a manufacturer-backed warranty that typically covers repairs for a specified time period after the original factory warranty expires. 


Con: Certified used cars cost more 

Inspections cost money. So does making any needed repairs. Dealers may also pay a fee to the manufacturer to participate in a CPO program, and the warranty has a price. 

As a result, CPO cars are more expensive than a comparable non-certified model. How much more does a certified vehicle cost? For a low-budget model, the price difference might be only a few hundred dollars.  According to the Automobile Protection Association of Canada a mass-market vehicle covered by a CPO program commands about $1,500 to $2,000 more and up to $5,000 on a premium class vehicle compared to non-CPO vehicles in Canada. CPO buyers might be entitled to special financing, with more attractive terms to ease the financial blow. 


Con: It's still a used car, with potential for problems 

No matter how carefully the vehicle has been inspected, there's no guarantee that a CPO car will suffer no troubles over the next few years. All certifications can do is reduce the risk. 

In the end, a CPO vehicle may or may not be your used car purchasing solution. But with the proper amount of research and patience, a CPO vehicle may be the perfect in-between choice between buying a new or non-CPO used vehicle. 




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