Understanding what ‘certified-preowned’ vehicle means

Sunday Signal

The days when buying a used car was akin to a game of chance are largely a relic of the past. Though it’s still possible that used car buyers could end up with a lemon, the preowned vehicle market has changed dramatically and for the better over the last couple of decades.

One of the more notable changes surrounding used vehicles over the last 20 years is the rise of certified preowned cars and trucks, or CPOs. The COVID-19 pandemic affected sales of CPOs in 2020, but the vehicle transaction experts at Cox AutomotiveTM report that more than a quarter million CPOs were sold in May of 2019. 

First-time car buyers or those accustomed to purchasing new vehicles can learn more about CPOs before buying their next cars or trucks. Such knowledge may help them make the most informed decision possible before they sign on the dotted line and drive their next vehicle off the lot.

CPOs versus  other used cars

The auto industry data aggregator Black Book notes that CPOs tend to have low mileage and clean accident histories. It’s possible, though unlikely, that vehicles that don’t meet such criteria could be designated as CPOs.

Extended warranties, perks 

Another significant difference between CPOs and more traditional used cars is that the former tend to be sold with extended manufacturers’ warranties. Certified preowned vehicle buyers also may be offered perks similar to those offered to new car buyers, such as free roadside assistance or complementary satellite radio service, for a predetermined period of time.

Consider all options

While it may seem like a no brainer for used car buyers to purchase CPOs, the consumer advocacy experts at Consumer Reports suggest that the decision is more complicated. Analysts at CR have suggested that the biggest advantage to CPOs is their extended warranties, which can be expensive. Having a vehicle inspected by a private mechanic consumers trust prior to purchase may be a better way for budget-conscious car buyers to allocate their funds than purchasing a CPO simply because of its extended warranty. If the mechanic gives the vehicle a clean bill of health, consumers can then rest easy knowing they exercised their due diligence and did so without having to pay for a potentially costly extended warranty. Ultimately, the decision is up to buyers, who can conduct a cost analysis to determine just how much they may or may not save.

Certified preowned vehicles are an option car buyers can consider prior to purchasing their next car or truck. (MC) 

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