When buying a car, the choice used to be between buying used cars and buying new, but now there's a third option: the certified pre-owned (CPO). These are sold from manufacturer dealerships and billed as a cut above the common used car, but should you buy one over a traditional used car?
To help yourself decide, read through the reasons to buy and the reasons to avoid.
Why Should You Choose a CPO Car?
People often worry that used cars won't be as reliable as new ones. To combat this fear, manufacturer CPO programs put each model through an exhaustive inspection – if any components are found wanting, they will be replaced. Additionally, it's common practise to restrict entry to vehicles with less than a certain number of miles on the odometer that are less than a certain number of years old. You should also be provided with a vehicle history report.
So, peace of mind is probably the biggest factor, and most manufacturers will even offer ongoing warranty coverage and roadside assistance. You'll also find a few common incentives, such as a subscription to satellite radio. Essentially, a CPO car is drawn from the top grade of used models, thoroughly inspected, and provided with attractive extras.
Why Should You Choose a Used Car?
CPO cars aren't perfect. That inspection process may have revealed nothing wrong, but there's no way to make a vehicle that's been used for so many years and driven so many miles like new again, even if every inspected component was replaced for a brand-new alternative. As much as dealerships would like you to believe otherwise, a CPO model just isn't the same as a new car.
Used cars can also suffer from problems, but you can have them independently inspected for signs of wear. In the vast majority of cases, the cost of simply having the vehicle inspected yourself is significantly cheaper than the price difference between a regular used car and a CPO. And that's the thing; people buy used cars over new cars to save money, but CPO models need to be priced higher since inspections cost money and dealerships know people will pay more.
You should also keep in mind that going for a CPO car means enjoying fewer options in terms of both sellers and cars. You can't buy a CPO model from anywhere but a licensed dealership; if you want a CPO Honda Accord, you need to find your closest Honda dealership, and you'll probably need to have it serviced at a Honda dealership to retain the warranty. When you look for a regular used model, you'll be able to check manufacturer dealerships, used dealerships, and private sellers.