Certified Pre-Owned Cars
Certified pre-owned (CPO) cars are used cars that have gone through original requirements testing by the manufacturers. As a result they get a stamp of approval; most are backed by a limited warranty. There is a 150 point inspection list, and a certified pre-owned car has to pass all of them in order to be given the certification. This approval makes CPO cars more popular because the certification can include warranties and sometimes additional features like roadside assistance, special financing options, and free oil changes. Certified pre-owned cars are generally off-lease vehicles that are low in miles and years. However, they do have the downside of being more expensive. Their prices are often adjusted 2-8 percent higher than the average market price, and CPO premiums are still on the rise due to recent popularity. This is a difference of $500-$1,700 for a non-luxury vehicle. Sometimes their prices are even the same as brand new cars. CPO cars are also often marketed under the previous warranty. This dupes people into thinking that they have a much longer warranty with a higher mileage cap. If a CPO car is at 90,000 miles and the warranty it is being sold under is for 100,000 miles, then there are only 10,000 miles left before the warranty expires. Lastly keep in mind that certified pre-owned cars were still checked by human beings, which happen to be error prone. Just because they are certified does not mean there aren't CPO cars without problems.
Non-Certified Used Cars
Basically non-certified used cars are just normal used cars without the manufacturer's stamp of approval. There is no hard evidence that a cautious buyer of used cars will necessarily get a worse deal than CPO cars. The up-front advantage of regular used cars is the savings, which can amount to thousands of dollars. Prices are more negotiable, and if you take the right steps, you can essentially get the same deal without paying extra for the manufacturer's stamp. The drawback would be the higher possibility of lemons. But then again, certified cars only carry a reduced risk of lemons, they don't eliminate the possibility altogether. Many states have Lemon Laws preventing the deliberate passing on of dud cars to unwitting buyers. If you're car savvy enough, you could probably certify a non-CPO car yourself by going through the checklist. Or you can hire someone to do it for you. Either way it will probably be cheaper.