Used or new, buying a vehicle is a big investment. Follow these important Certified Pre‐owned Vehicle Purchasing Tips as you begin your research.
All manufacturers’ certified pre‐owned vehicles must pass a certification inspection. If you are interested in a CPO vehicle, ask the dealer to give you a copy of the inspection list. The list will indicate exactly what has been inspected and should list any repair or maintenance work that was required to bring the vehicle up to certified standards.
Note the mileage and find out the remaining warranty for the vehicle. Depending on the program, you may receive no additional benefits beyond the new-car warranty, or you may receive up to 36 months/50,000 miles of additional certified warranty. Read the certified warranty information carefully to know what additional coverage (beyond any remaining new-car warranty) you will receive with the vehicle and if there is a deductible. Review our program overview to get an idea of what coverage exists based on typical mileage; this will vary based on the exact mileage on the vehicle you’re considering.
Most certified pre‐owned programs offer roadside assistance. Check if there is any value to this if you already have benefits through AAA or your insurance.
Some programs offer return/exchange provisions. Find out if you will get the sales tax and licensing/registration fees back if you return or exchange the vehicle. Ideally, if the vehicle is certified properly and you did your homework right, you shouldn’t have to utilize the return/exchange provision.
All of the manufacturer-backed programs offer a CARFAX or Experian vehicle history report. Because these agencies can only capture information independently provided by insurance companies or the Department of Motor Vehicles, be aware that it is possible the vehicle’s full history won’t be indicated on the report (for example, an accident that was not run through the insured’s agency would not be known to the vehicle history report provider). All manufacturer inspection checklists do look for frame or water damage, but if you are still concerned about the vehicle’s condition then you may want to have an independent mechanic take a look at the car prior to purchase.
Almost all programs offer special financing incentives. IntelliChoice has seen several different types of incentives offered over the years including: several month payment credit, maintenance warranty extension, and cash rebate. However the most common incentive involves a discount financing rate that may simply be the prevailing new car rate (usually 0.5% to 1% below the used car rate) or may be a special financing incentive that could be as low as 0.0% but is usually around 0.9% to 1.9%. Make sure to ask about these incentives and keep in mind that the published rate is for well qualified buyers only (very high credit rating).
There are legitimate third-party certification programs available through participating dealerships. Ensure that you know exactly what company is certifying the vehicle you’re considering and get this in writing. Some of these programs are Motor Trend Certified, Q Certified, Chrysler Diversified, and CarMark Certified. You should review the program benefits and compare them to a manufacturer-backed program to determine which best fits your needs and provides you the assurance you’re looking for.
Good luck and, as always, Choose Your Car Wisely.