CPO Warranties: How They Work and What They Cover

Buying a certified pre-owned (CPO) car is a great idea if you want a lightly used car that comes with an extended warranty. However, you may be wondering how these CPO warranties work and what they cover. Let’s take a closer look.

What’s included in a CPO warranty?

Toyota logo
Toyota logo | Kazuhiro Nogi/AFP via Getty Images

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A certified pre-owned warranty typically comes with the same type of coverage that a new car warranty does. According to Car and Driver, a CPO warranty includes a bumper-to-bumper and powertrain warranty in addition to roadside assistance and trip interruption coverage. However, different manufacturers will have different warranty coverages, so it’s important to read the fine print.

Some automakers will even label their CPO warranties differently. For example, instead of using the term “bumper-to-bumper,” they may label their warranty as a “limited CPO warranty.” Either way, these warranties typically cover things like the car’s electronics, HVAC system, navigation, audio, and some parts of the suspension. Just keep in mind that no warranties cover typical wear-and-tear parts like brakes, tires, oil changes, etc. You will have to pay for those yourself.

When does this extended used car warranty start?

Used car warranties and what you need to know
A certified pre-owned used car is displayed on a sales lot in California | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

In almost every case, the CPO warranty starts after the original new car warranty expires. That means that you could purchase a certified pre-owned car with some of the new car warranty still left on it. But when that warranty expires, the CPO one will kick in. On the other hand, if the new car warranty has already expired when the CPO car is purchased, then the warranty will start on that day.

Car and Driver notes that a CPO car’s powertrain warranty typically starts the day that the car was originally registered and counts the mileage from zero up to a pre-determined amount. In some cases, the powertrain warranty can last up to 100,000 miles.

For example, the HondaTrue Certified warranty program covers a car for one year or 12,000 miles past the new car warranty. As far as the powertrain warranty goes, Honda will cover the car for up to 7 years or 100,000 miles from the original registered date, not from the time that the original warranty expires.

While that extra one year of warranty coverage may not sound like much, consider that some manufacturers don’t include a CPO warranty with their certified cars. For example, Hyundai only offers the remainder of the new car warranty on its CPO cars with no extension available.

However, its CPO rules state that the cars must be less than five years old and have fewer than 60,000 miles on the odometer. So you can be sure that you’ll get some of the warranty when going with a Hyundai CPO car.

Can a CPO warranty be transferred between owners?

Yes, almost every CPO warranty can be transferred between owners, even in private party situations. Most of the time, the warranty transfer is free although some automakers do charge for it. For example, Mitsubishi charges $40 while other high-end automakers like BMW charge $200 for the transfer. Again, it pays to read the fine print when shopping for a certified pre-owned car and understand the warranties that come with them.

What about roadside assistance?

A buick getting loaded onto a tow truck
A buick getting loaded onto a tow truck | Getty Images

Most CPO cars will come with 24-hour roadside assistance, but the length of the coverage and reimbursement amount can vary. Audi’s one-year certified pre-owned roadside assistance coverage starts when the four-year new vehicle roadside coverage expires, for example. Honda’s roadside assistance is good for one year or 12,000 miles and starts the day that the new vehicle warranty expires.

What is trip-interruption coverage?

Trip interruption coverage is for when your car breaks down while you’re traveling away from home. In most cases, the CPO warranties stipulate that the breakdown must be caused by a warrantied component. Also, the breakdown must occur 100 miles away from home, but some automakers like Toyota stipulate that the breakdown must occur more than 150 miles away from home. As far reimbursement goes, most automakers will reimburse you for $300 to $500 for meals and hotels. Just as the name states, this coverage pays you back for the interruption that the breakdown has caused for your trip.

Remember to read the fine print

No matter which certified pre-owned car you buy, it’s important to read the fine print on the warranty website before doing so. If you find a car that you like, you can always consort with the dealer to find out if there is any of the new car warranty left on it, when the certified pre-owned warranty kicks in, as well as any other perks that the program offers.

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