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A Buying Guide to Certified Pre-Owned Vehicles for the Uninitiated

A Buying Guide to Certified Pre-Owned Vehicles for the Uninitiated

Some of the best things in life aren’t new. Take cars, for example. If you’re in the market for a vehicle, you may be tempted to purchase new. While the zero miles and new tires may seem appealing, used cars actually offer the better deal. New cars depreciate the moment they are driven off of the lot. This reduction in value doesn’t occur with a used car—especially a certified pre-owned model. Certified pre-owned vehicles have been thoroughly inspected before they’re sold. Any necessary repairs will be made before the car is even listed. If this is your first time shopping for a certified, pre-owned model, there are a few things to know before you hit the lots.

Check the Warranty

Because certified pre-owned, or CPO, cars are examined and repaired before they’re listed for sale, they’re typically accompanied by a warranty. Not all of these warranties are created equal. The warranty isn’t provided by the dealership, but rather by the manufacturer of the car, which has set certain requirements that each vehicle must meet in order to qualify as a certified pre-owned model. These warranties differ from maker to maker. Some warranties may offer a 12-month, 12,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty, while others may be an unlimited mileage, 2-year warranty. What does this mean, though? Does the coverage begin from the date you buy the car or did it begin when it was sold to its original buyer? Speak to your salesperson if you have questions regarding the warranty. Clarifying these points ensures that you get the best coverage on your vehicle.

Shop the Right Lots

Not every car dealership sells certified pre-owned cars. Some only sell brand new cars while others sell pre-owned, uncertified vehicles. Once you’ve selected the type of car you’d like to purchase, shop with lots who specialize in pre-owned, certified cars. These dealerships can answer any questions that you might have and can verify that your prospective vehicle is part of the manufacturer’s certified, pre-owned program.

Understand CPO Pricing

CPO cars aren’t new. They’ll have higher miles and may be a year or two old. But they also aren’t considered used, either. They are a rare cross between the two. Certified, pre-owned vehicles are more valuable than traditionally used cars because of the condition they’re in and because of their warranties. Because of this, they’ll typically carry a higher price tag than other used vehicles. Understand the proper price range of the model you’re looking at before you begin shopping. If you notice there are various price points for a car model with similar mileage and the same manufactured year, pay attention. Because CPO cars have all been inspected in a specific way, the variance in pricing will most likely be due to the condition of the exterior.

Test Drive the Car

While a CPO car has been thoroughly inspected, it’s still important to get behind the wheel. Buying a car sight unseen is never a good idea. Make sure that you enjoy driving the car and that it has all of the features that you’re looking for. Then, inspect the interior and exterior of the car to ensure that there’s no serious damage. Doing this sort of “due diligence” guarantees that you’re paying the right amount for the right car.

Ask for the Report

Don’t take the dealership’s word for it. If a car is a certified pre-owned model, a report should be available. On the report, you’ll find the details and results from the inspection. On some reports, you’ll see the remaining thickness of the brake pads and tire tread. The report should also state whether or not any repairs were needed in order for the car to qualify as CPO. While most programs include this type of report, make sure that you review it before you make the sale.

Purchasing a certified pre-owned vehicle is a great way to get the car of your dreams at a fraction of the price. Take the Porsche 718 Boxster, for instance. This beautiful convertible has won the Best Buy Award in the Performance Car category two years in a row. The chance to own the Boxster for less than a new model with the same Porsche promise of quality is possible when you choose to buy a CPO vehicle. 

Date Posted: April 9, 2018

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