What's a Certified Pre-Owned Car?

A true certified pre-owned (CPO) car is a vehicle that's been refurbished by a manufacturer-certified technician and placed under a manufacturer-backed warranty. CPO cars also provide more peace of mind than you're likely to have with a standard used vehicle.

CPO Cars Can Be Good for Special Financing

What's a Certified Pre-Owned Car?While used cars are the most affordable option for borrowers with credit challenges, they aren't all high-mileage beaters. Certified pre-owned vehicles are used cars, too. Most often, CPO vehicles are no more than five years old, many just coming off-lease, which means they're only two or three years old. This also means that a CPO car is likely to have lower mileage than a regular used vehicle.

As a borrower with less than great credit, it's important that you focus on getting an affordable, reliable car that can last. This means getting a used vehicle that you hopefully won't have to sink a lot of money into to maintain. This is where a CPO car can shine.

In order to be certified, the vehicle goes through a multipoint inspection by a manufacturer-certified technician, and is refurbished to meet standards set by the automaker. Once this is done, the car is offered with some form of manufacturer-backed warranty, which typically covers certain vehicle systems at franchised dealerships of that brand. Having this protection can possibly save you hundreds or even thousands in repair costs.

Is There a Catch?

While CPO cars are typically a step up from a regular used vehicle, you may find yourself asking "what's the catch?" There's no catch, but you do have to take into account that not all warranties are the same. It's a good idea to make sure you know what's included in the warranty before you sign the contract.

Another thing to keep in mind is that CPO cars cost more than like-model regular used vehicles. Deciding whether or not a certified pre-owned car is right for you means knowing if that extra cost is worth it to gain peace of mind when it comes to your used vehicle.

If you're still on the fence about buying a CPO car, here are a few more points to consider:

  • Less likely to have/keep negative equity – New vehicles depreciate quickly. This can leave you upside down on your loan (where you owe more than the car's value), and make it more difficult to sell or trade in your vehicle for a profit. CPO cars have typically seen their biggest drop in value already, which is likely to put them in the used vehicle "sweet spot" in terms of value, and get you out of negative equity more quickly.
  • CPO cars may come with more features – CPO vehicles are usually newer than a regular used car, which means they're likely to have more of the technology and safety features you want in a vehicle.
  • Repairability – While simply being certified doesn't make the car easier to repair, the manufacturer's warranty typically covers you at the brand’s franchised dealerships across the country, which makes getting your vehicle fixed easier, no matter where you are.

Not All Certified Used Cars Are Manufacturer-Certified

When you're looking for a certified pre-owned car, it's important to know that not all certified vehicles are certified by a manufacturer. Sometimes, you can look at used cars that are "certified used vehicles" or "dealer certified." The wording is meant to be eye-catching and to put you at ease.

While these cars may be the cream of the crop at a particular dealership, dealer-certified vehicles just aren't the same as those certified by a manufacturer. Dealer certification typically means that the service department has looked over the car in preparation for the sale, and if there's any form of service contract included, it's likely to only be good at that dealership's service center.

Again, it's very important to know all the details before you make your final decision. As always, even with a CPO vehicle, it's a good idea to have any used car inspected by an ASE-certified master mechanic prior to purchasing it. Also, be sure to be thorough on your test drive to ensure everything works as it should.

Ready to Find Your Next Car?

If you think a CPO vehicle is right up your alley when searching for your next car, why not make the process of finding a dealer to work with easy, too? Here at The Car Connection, we specialize in matching credit-challenged car buyers to dealerships near them that can help.

Our network of special finance dealers work with lenders that assist people who have bad credit, no credit, and even bankruptcy. So, what are you waiting for? Get connected to a local dealership by filling out our easy, fast, and free auto loan request form. Get started right now!


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