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What You Should Know About Certified Pre-Owned Cars Before Buying

Purchasing a car can be stressful, whether it’s for you or perhaps your newly licensed teen driver. It usually raises questions like, should you buy new? Used? Certified pre-owned? And is there really a difference between used cars and certified pre-owned ones?

Certified pre-owned vehicles, or CPOs, can be a good choice and don’t cost much more than used cars. CPOs are a kind of middle ground — they’re not new, but they offer more perks than a non-certified used car. Here are some important things to know before purchasing a CPO vehicle.

What is a CPO car?

According to U.S. News, CPO cars are sold at franchised new-car dealerships of the same brand. So you won’t find a CPO Honda at a Ford dealership.

These vehicles are gently used, often lease returns, and usually accident-free with low mileage. They can’t be too old or have over a certain mileage. They also must have documentation showing they’ve been well-maintained and pass a rigorous inspection. And they also typically come with a limited warranty backed by the manufacturer. 

Pros of CPO cars

RELATED: Get a Used Honda for Your Teen Directly From the Automaker

There are several pros to buying CPO cars. Unlike a typical used car, they come with a warranty. And though the specifics of the warranty vary by manufacturer and program, these limited warranties are valuable.

A CPO car undergoes a thorough inspection, ensuring you’re not driving off in a lemon. Many times, dealerships offer better financing on CPO cars, and many banks offer loan rates comparable to those for new cars. Because of the criteria that cars must meet to be considered certified pre-owned, this means they’re relatively new and generally well maintained. You’ll also get documentation of maintenance and the inspection.

A CPO car might also come with extra perks, such as roadside assistance and free scheduled maintenance. These advantages vary from program-to-program but can add value to a CPO car. Plus, the manufacturer backs most of these cars. And many manufacturers have programs, so you’re not limited to only a few brands.

Cons of CPO vehicles

Just as there are benefits to buying a CPO car, there are also some drawbacks. They almost always cost more than regular used cars, but they’re still used cars. Even with the documentation a dealership might present, you should still do your due diligence to make sure everything is in order and it’s in fact the car you want.

Plus, you’re only able to get a CPO car at that brand’s dealerships. So if you want a Ford, you won’t find a true certified pre-owned vehicle at a Honda dealership. Additionally, because technology is rapidly changing on cars every model year, you won’t get the latest technology on a pre-owned vehicle. And though manufacturers back most CPO cars, some do not. That’s why it’s important to do your research. 

Is a CPO vehicle right for you?

Purchasing a certified pre-owned vehicle can be a great way to get a good car at a good price while still offering peace of mind when driving off the dealer’s lot. As long as you do your homework, a CPO car is a good middle ground between a brand-new model with the latest tech and warranty and a cheaper used car.