Should you buy a Certified Pre Owned Car? We explore the the advantages and disadvantages behind the wheel of a 2010 Porsche 911 Targa 4S.
Stunning isn’t it? This is the Porsche 911 Targa 4S. Along with those looks it sounds great, goes like stink and handles amazingly. But if you think the best feature is that it’ll drive your neighbor crazy with jealousy, you’d be wrong. The best part is you can get all this for a fraction of what you’d expect because… it’s used.
OK, perhaps “used” is a bit crude here. Instead this is a Porsche Certified Pre Owned car. What exactly does that mean? Well, essentially it has been brought up to a standard above a typical used car.
SEE ALSO: What is a Certified Pre Owned Car?
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It may be a 2010 but the paint is immaculate. There’s hardly a ding, scrape or rock chip on it. The interior is pristine, with not even a scuff here or a piece of dirt there. And it drives great! It’s fast, responsive, stable and smooth at speed.
So back to what makes a car Certified Pre Owned. For starters, there are several different types of CPO cars, so be careful when shopping for one. There are dealer ones and franchise ones, but the only one you really want is a manufacturer one. That means it’s backed by the automaker itself, so if there’s an issue, Dr. Martin Winterkorn back in Germany has your back.
SEE ALSO: CPO Programs Explained
But before detailing CPO programs in general, this Porsche makes a particularly attractive example, so let’s take a quick look at the Porsche Approved Certified Pre Owned program.
Porsche is unique among CPO programs. While many cover cars newer than 5 years old and with less than 60,000 miles, Porsche CPO cars can be up to 8 years old and have 100,000 miles on them!
Porsche Approved Certified Pre Owned
- Eligible cars: 8 years old or newer, up to 100k miles
- 111-point inspection by Porsche Certified Technician
- Only Porsche replacement parts used
- Porsche Approved 2 yr/50k CPO Limited Warranty
- Warranty service is free
For the most part you’ll find many are nowhere near this and often with luxury cars or high end models they will be lease returns.
Porsche Certified Technicians do a 111 point inspection and parts replaced with original Porsche parts. That’s far fewer points inspected than some automakers boast, but as we’ve just explained cars like our 911 might as well be new.
CPO Cars sold that are still under the new car limited warranty are then covered up to 6 years or 100,000 miles from the original on sale date with a CPO Limited Warranty, while cars outside that new car warranty are covered with a special warranty of 2 years or 50,000 miles and it covers most of the major systems and parts, and doesn’t cover obvious wear parts (tires, brake pads, clutches, etc).
Warranty service (but not regular maintenance) is also free when you buy a CPO Porsche, though many automaker’s charge a deductible.
BUT SHOULD YOU BUY ONE?
So, should you buy a CPO car? Let’s look at some of the reasons not to first.
For starters, it’s expensive. Sure you’re saving a bundle over a new car, but you’re going to pay a premium over a regular used car.
For many cars, particularly ones less high-end than a Porsche, the work of hunting down a model and having the necessary pre-purchase inspection and repair work done can be done cheaper than what you’re going to pay for a CPO badge.
Why You Shouldn’t Buy CPO
- More expensive than used
- CPO cars still aren’t new cars
The most obvious downside is that it’s not a new vehicle. Cars within a same generation may not differ all that much but in the case of this 911, there’s an entirely new one out, with more power, better fuel economy and the latest tech gadgets and design. Plus, over hard bumps we did notice a squeak or two – although on this particular model it’s likely related to the fancy Targa roof.
In the particular case of the 911, the car has an iconic design that doesn’t change much from one generation to another. Thanks to that, almost no one will ever know it’s not brand new. Unfortunately the same can’t really be said of the interior, where dash buttons and the overall style do look more dated.
So, what are the advantages?
First, there’s that warranty and the fact that it’s been reconditioned to as-new status. Plus, often a good financing rate is offered.
Why You Should Buy CPO
- It’s almost new
- Big savings
- Your time is valuable
And so what if it’s not the latest and greatest, or in the case of the Porsche 911, down a few horsepower from the new model, you’re not likely to notice, especially with 385 hp on tap.
Often as is the case with “previously enjoyed” cars the past busy owner didn’t have the time to enjoy it. So now it’s up to you. Our Targa 4S (generously provided by Porsche) is technically four years old, but it only has 14,000 miles.
Consider the reliability of a car and the brand it’s associated with when looking at a certified pre owned one too. For a Corolla it’s probably not worth it. For a lot of German brands, it certainly is. We wouldn’t lump Porsche in with the other Germans as it’s known for reliability, but if something were to go wrong, you can be certain the fix will be expensive.
Finally, and most obviously, there’s the cost. Priced at $103,000 when new, our CPO Targa 4S will soon be put up for sale for about two-thirds of that.
You could probably buy one for a couple thousand less but with more hassle and more risk. As the saying goes, time is money, and for many folks, particularly those shopping in the Porsche bracket, they’ve likely got more money than time.