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How to Buy a Certified Pre-Owned Car?

Is buying a Certified Pre-Owned car better than buying a used car?


All new vehicles are the same. That is to say, every identically equipped car, truck or SUV on a dealer’s lot has the same mileage, same sticker price and is in the same condition. Then, three years later, they’re all different. Consequently, shopping for a new car is different than shopping for a used car. 


And shopping for a Certified Pre-Owned (CPO ) vehicle is different still, blending characteristics of both new and used searches. On the one hand, no two CPO cars have the same mileage or are in the same condition, so you have to weigh the pros and cons of two otherwise identical models. On the other hand, they all meet certain condition and mileage requirements, and most offer the reassurance of an extended warranty, so they all offer peace of mind. 


In a nutshell, buying a CPO vehicle can require more work than buying a new car, but presents fewer pitfalls than buying used. 


Make a Shopping List 


Start with a particular model—and a couple of backup choices. While CPO models are a small fraction of the used car market, the pool is growing as manufacturers and dealers begin to understand the benefits to both their bottom line and consumers that come from offering low mileage, good condition used vehicles with a warranty. 


Still, if your heart is set mainly on CPO, it’s a good idea to be flexible on the model. The more choices you have as a buyer, the better. 


Study the Cars and the Programs 


Research is essential. After choosing the vehicle(s) you like, check out the maximum age and mileage of cars that are eligible for CPO certification, and other program details. Find out how extensive the inspection is, and the exact details of the extended warranty/service contract. Many dealers now include a vehicle history report, which can tell if the car has been damaged, has title problems, or is otherwise questionable. 


Go Online to Find CPO Models 


Once you’re up to speed on your desired cars and their respective programs, you can find CPO vehicles for sale right here at KBB.ca [LINK]. Comparing prices and features helps set your expectations for what you will be realistically paying for a CPO vehicle. 


Finally, Visit the Dealer 


When you eventually find the right car and decide it’s time to visit the dealer, remember that prices on CPO vehicles are negotiable, just as they are for any used car. 


See if it’s possible to lease the certified used car. Is a loaner car available if repairs are needed at some point? Look into the return/exchange policy, and availability of special financing—ideally, comparable to what’s offered on a new car. 


As you drive off the lot in your first—or latest— CPO vehicle, feel good about the money you saved versus a new vehicle and the added peace of mind you have versus a used car. 


In the end, not all CPO programs are created equal. How does the one you’re considering stack up? 


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