The Certified Pre-Owned (aka CPO) concept was originally created by the manufacturers as a way to drive used-car customers to their new-car showrooms. As a buyer, you need to evaluate if the condition and warranty coverage of the CPO vehicle is a good value for the money, as CPO vehicles are typically more expensive that comparable non-CPO vehicles.
While some dealers will claim to sell “factory-direct” or “Certified” used cars, true CPO vehicles can only be sold by the new car dealers of that manufacturer (i.e. you can only buy a CPO Honda Civic from a Honda dealership). And the CPO programs have 3 distinct attributes:
- To be eligible for CPO status, the vehicle must be newer than a certain year with less than a certain number of miles.
- While a used vehicle basically just has to pass inspection, a CPO vehicle must meet higher standards (like tire & brake wear for example).
- Once the vehicle meets these standards, the manufacture allows the dealer to purchase an extended warranty on the buyer’s behalf at a lower cost often with better coverage than what a consumer can buy on their own.
CPO vehicles carry a manufacturer’s warranty that takes effect once the original warranty expires. They often work just like a new car warranty, covering a certain number of years or miles, and certain components of the vehicle, but the coverage can vary greatly across manufacturers, so you need to check with your Auto Advisor.
And while some used cars offered with third-party warranties are sometimes advertised as “Certified,” the vehicle’s manufacturer is not supporting the warranty in any way.
Many advertisements claim that “Certified” vehicles go through a more rigorous inspection process than non-certified vehicles. However, good dealers should always perform a complete inspection and perform whatever service is necessary to ensure that vehicle will be safe and reliable. We stress this among the dealers in the Auto Advisor network.
The attraction to certified used vehicles appears clear – new car warranty benefits at a used car price. But the rules, warranty coverage and costs vary across makes, so check with your Auto Advisor to learn more about the specific manufacturer’s CPO program warranties and dealer service.