Should You Buy a Certified Pre-Owned Car?


Updated August 2019

Certified Pre-Owned or CPO cars might look expensive compared to other used cars, but there’s a reason for that; they’re inspected and checked to ensure that it’s a quality car. But if you’re looking to buy a new car, a CPO car will look like a bargain.

Here’s how a CPO offer compares to either a new car or a used car.

CPO vs. New:

Hyundai-WarrantyNew cars have a ton of intangible benefits. They always have that spiffy new car smell, and the wonderful feeling of it arriving to you with no miles on the clock. Furthermore a new car warranty is pretty solid, and covers the car pretty nicely for at least three years. You also have the peace of mind that the car is brand new, and hasn’t been abused or mistreated prior to you buying it. Unfortunately, all that convenience and peace of mind comes at a price, not to mention the depreciation hit that occurs as soon as you drive the car off the lot. Some new car buyers can see a 40 percent drop in value off their car during the first three years of ownership.

InspectionA CPO car compares favorably to buying a new car, and comes without that huge depreciation hit. Just like a new car, a CPO car is bought from a dealer, and gets a pre-delivery inspection. However, while a new car’s inspection is pretty minor, involving unwrapping and unpacking the car, a CPO car is inspected more thoroughly. Of course it needs to be, since it was owned by someone else, and has already driven some miles.

See Also: Use Car Pre Purchase Inspection: 10 things to get checked out

A CPO car also gets a decent warranty, although not as long lasting as a new-car warranty. This is because as an older car, there are more parts that are wearing out, and it would be tough to guarantee the lifespan of these components. While CPO warranties differ from manufacturer to manufacturer, few automakers offer more coverage than two years or 50,000 miles after the CPO purchase date, meaning there’s still a decent amount of coverage, just not as much as a brand new car. The vehicles’ original powertrain warranty can also get an extension, depending on the certification process.

Overall, those looking to trade some warranty coverage for some extra money should consider getting a CPO over a new car. It might not be as fresh, but the extra change in your pocket is much appreciated, and there’s still some warranty coverage in case something goes wrong. 

CPO vs. Used:


There’s always a concern of reliability and safety when buying a used car. Honesty is the hardest thing to come by when buying from a private seller. Important service details might be missing or fabricated, and you might not know how rough of a life a used car may have had. The only way to get peace of mind comes with a pre-purchase inspection, and a service contract or third party warranty.

LexusCPOBut you get just that when you decide to go for a CPO car instead of a used car from a third party. It might cost more, but you end up relieving some stress and uncertainties about the vehicle you’re about to buy. A CPO car has also passed an inspection by the time you look to purchase it, meaning there won’t be any surprises when the pre-purchase inspection, safety test or emissions test results come up.

Additionally, CPO cars come with a warranty, something that the usual used car rarely offers. While any used car can get a third party warranty or service contract, the credibility of these services is questionable.

See Also: Should You Buy A Car with 200,000 Miles?

On the flipside, CPO vehicles are significantly pricier than other used cars, and price is what usually drives buyers to the used car market. If you’re looking to pinch every penny, a CPO car won’t help much with that. You can still get a pre-purchase inspection and extended warranty or service contract for less than a CPO vehicle. Fortunately, since most certified pre-owned cars are sold at dealerships, securing a way to finance the car is easy, safe and secure.

But if you’re fed up with the uncertainties of used car buying, a CPO offer is the right choice for you.

Are Certified Pre-Owned Cars More Expensive?

In short, the answer is yes… but for good reason.

Exactly what the difference is can depend quite a bit, especially on luxury models and brands. Regardless, expect to pay a few thousand dollars extra for a CPO car, or up to as much as 20 percent more. While that sounds like a lot, it’s important to remember that CPO cars are held to a very high standard and so it’s really an apples to oranges comparison to look at CPO inventory versus non-CPO inventory, because the majority of non-CPO cars will be sub-standard and probably not models worth looking at.

True, you’re paying for the CPO warranty on these cars, but we think the real value comes with the fact that dealerships only offer the very best used cars as Certified Pre Owned cars.

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1 Comment

Honest Abe says:

Just buy a regular used car. Why waste all that money and BS dealing with a supposedly legit dealership.