Factory Certified Pre-Owned Vehicles and Extended Warranties

Certified Service
Photo credit: welcomia/Shutterstock.com
I talk about Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) vehicles on my radio show often. Simply put, I am a believer and have been since we first started hearing about these programs, which was in the late 1990s. When I was the Ford National Dealer Council Chairman in 2000-2003, Ford Motor asked us to study the CPO programs that were out there and come up with one the dealers would embrace.

I traveled the country talking to dealers and used car managers until we came out with a program that everyone liked. Since that time, CPO programs have evolved and changed over the years and today, almost all manufacturers and dealers participate. In fact, if you look at CarProUSA.com today, there are 2,500 Certified Pre-Owned vehicles for sale.

What Are The Advantages Of A Certified Vehicle?

When talking about the benefits of factory Certified vehicles, I often talk about the process the vehicle must go through. This is a big benefit to make sure the vehicle is sound. Although it varies by brand, most certification programs call for checking between 150 and 200 different items, including tires. One thing that has evolved over time with CPO programs is the warranty that comes with your factory Certified car.

Why Do Certified Cars Cost More?

With a Certified vehicle, the dealer pays a fee to the manufacturer of the car, and this covers the long warranty that comes standard with a factory Certified vehicle. This is why it is important to check to make sure it is a factory Certified vehicle, not a vehicle deemed certified by a dealer or rental car company. Unless it is factory Certified, the Certified warranty is not good at every dealership in America that carries your brand. The other big cost factor is the cost of the vehicle passing the certification process. Some vehicles will have to have a set of tires, others will not. No two Certified vehicles will cost the same to certify.

How Long Is The Typical CPO Warranty?

Simply put, the warranty times can vary greatly and so can the mileage limits. It is important to note, too, that the warranty that comes with a Certified vehicle covers only the power train components, it is not bumper-to-bumper coverage. Also important: the time and/or mileage limits start from when the vehicle was new, not when you purchased it, so always ask your dealer for the original in-service date. They will have that information on their computer.

I spent some time researching the major factory Certified programs, and I will run them down for you, so when you are considering the purchase of a Certified vehicle, you will know what to expect as far as the warranty goes.

  • 6-year/100,000 mile power train warranty on CPO vehicles: All General Motors brands, Audi, Lincoln, Porsche, Mitsubishi, and Toyota.
  • 7-year/100,000 mile power train warranty on CPO vehicles: Ford, Acura, all Chrysler brands, Honda, Jaguar, Land Rover, Mazda, Nissan, Subaru, and Volvo.
  • 6-year/75,000 mile power train warranty on CPO vehicles: Infiniti.
  • 10-year/100,000 mile power train warranty on CPO vehicles: Hyundai and Kia.
  • 1-year/unlimited mile power train warranty on CPO vehicles: BMW and Mercedes Benz.
  • 2-year/unlimited mile power train warranty on CPO vehicles: Lexus.
  • 2-year/24,000 mile power train warranty on CPO vehicles: Volkswagen

What If I Want More Extensive Coverage?

Most, if not all, automakers will offer more extensive coverage at a cost. As I covered, CPO warranties that are included with a CPO vehicle only cover essentially the engine, transmission, and drivetrain components. You can purchase more extensive coverage for things like air conditioning compressors, power steering pumps, master cylinders, etc. Usually, this coverage is not as expensive as even a new vehicle extended warranty since the power train coverage is already included.

In Conclusion

Personally, if I am buying a used vehicle, it will only be a factory Certified vehicle. Yes, you pay more, but I love the peace of mind of the certification process. I love that with almost all the CPO programs you get two keys and remotes, the car is washed, and overall it is as close to new as possible.
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Stephanie H.
I just purchased a CPO 2015 Nissan Pathfinder on Saturday evening. I tried to use the wiper fluid to get the pollen off my windshield Sunday afternoon and nothing came out. Today (Monday) I purchased wiper fluid and filled the wiper fluid container only to find it pouring down my driveway instead. I was under the impression that all CPO vehicles go through a thorough inspection - so how could something like this (as well as a broken off antenna that I didn't notice until Sunday) actually pass? Am I able to ask the dealership for a copy of the inspection?
Jerry Reynolds
Stephanie, did you purchase from a Car Pro Certified Dealer? Regardless, I would certainly give the dealership a call, discuss your concerns and see if they can provide a CPO inspection checklist.

Managing Editor
theFriz .
When I bought a Toyota Corolla 3 years ago, it came with a CPO warranty. I never was able to get a written, signed page from the dealer as to what was/or not covered, just a rubber stamp on the invoice stating "warranty". Fortunatly I never had any problems with the car.
C E.
Next time insist on a copy. I had problems also on that with a Hyundai dealer. I called Hyundai customer service and they were able to verify it had been certified. When I went back to the dealer they came up with it pretty quickly but. Think factory must have passed on my complaint.
Alfred W.
I love this show, I have listened every Sat morning I get a cup of Starbucks coffee go sit in my car and tune... So much good information. You and Kevin are quite a team, the Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis of automobile world......
Thanks keep up the good work...
Robert B.
Mine is actually a question: What is your feeling of CARMAX? From what I have seen, the vehicles seem to be pretty good. Although, the prices seem to be a little high. As you may know, there's no negotiation.

Thanks in advance.
Jerry Reynolds
I?m not a fan to be honest. It?s a good place to sell, just not to buy. They don?t seem to be overly picky what they sell, and they will sell a car with a unfixed safety recall, which I disagree with.

You are correct on pricing too, read this I wrote earlier this year: https://www.carprousa.com/high-cost-no-haggle-pricing

- Jerry