As the price of purchasing a new vehicle continues to rise, consumers are looking at used cars now more than ever. Pre-owned car programs are becoming a popular option for those wanting dependable and affordable vehicles. Finding a certified pre-owned (CPO) vehicle gives the buyer added confidence that the car they’re buying is a sound purchaase. Not only has it been inspected, but it also comes with an extended warranty that isn’t typical of ordinary used cars.
What is a certified pre-owned vehicle?
Pre-owned cars are sold alongside new automobiles at most major car dealerships. Unlike most used cars, CPO vehicles are typically no older than seven years and have less than 80,000 miles on the odometer. A CPO vehicle is certified by the dealer in compliance with manufacturer specifications.
Before being listed for sale, the vehicle undergoes an intense multipoint inspection from a factory-certified mechanic. Any damage, defects, or worn parts are repaired. According to AutoTrader, the vehicle must be in excellent condition and “mechanically and cosmetically sound” before being offered for sale.
The biggest benefit of purchasing a pre-owned car is that the manufacturer’s warranty is still intact.
Best certified pre-owned car programs for 2021
U.S. News recently evaluated 34 certified pre-owned programs to determine which manufacturer offers the best dependability, warranty plan, and add-on benefits.
The best one overall was Lexus, which has won this distinction for the past four years. The Lexus program requires a vehicle to be less than six years old and with no more than 80,000 miles. It also must pass a rigorous 161-point inspection for consideration.
The Lexus bumper-to-bumper warranty is good for six years from the original purchase date. The program includes zero-deductible repairs, complimentary service rental vehicles, 24-hour roadside assistance, and two years of free maintenance up to 20,000 miles.
Luxury vehicles with the best CPO programs
In the luxury division, Audi and Infiniti come highly recommended.
Audi offers a one-year bumper-to-bumper warranty with five years on the original service warranty. The program is transferable to the next owner and comes with additional benefits, including roadside assistance, complimentary routine maintenance, no deductible service visits, and free loaner vehicles. To qualify as a pre-owned car, it must be no older than five years and have no more than 60,000 miles on it. Audi has the most stringent inspection program in the industry, requiring a 300-point inspection.
Infiniti offers brand dependability along with a comprehensive pre-owned car program. The warranty includes coverage for six years, along with an additional two years for an extra fee. Program benefits include complimentary service for one year, 24-hour roadside assistance, a free rental vehicle, and a $50 deductible on service visits. The vehicle must have less than 70,000 miles on it and undergo a 167-point inspection process to be part of the program.
Affordable vehicles with great CPO programs
In the affordable category, Kia, Buick, and Mitsubishi came out on top.
Kia and Mitsubishi require their pre-owned cars to be less than five years old with no more than 60,000 miles. Buick is a little more lenient, with eligibility requirements of 75,000 miles and less than six years old. All vehicles must be able to pass a stringent multipoint inspection process.
Warranty coverage varies by brand. Kia provides the best-in-class coverage with a six-year/72,000-mile warranty, along with 10-year/100,000 powertrain coverage. Buick offers a five-year/62,000-mile warranty and six-year/100,000 powertrain coverage with a program that includes complimentary service visits and zero deductibles. Mitsubishi offers a five-year/60,000 bumper-to-bumper warranty with 10-year/100,000 powertrain coverage.