Certified Pre-Owned Cars – Car Pro News

It seemed very strange to me in the late 1990s when Ford Motor Company approached me to help them configure a Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) program that the dealers would like and jump on board with. At the time, I was the Ford National Dealer Council Chairman, and could not figure out why, for the first time ever, Ford wanted help with anything other than selling new vehicles. It all seemed a little strange to me. For as long as I could remember, if the manufacturer felt you were putting too much emphasis on used sales instead of new, let’s just say you would be having a conversation.
It did not take long to figure out that this was ALL about resale value and ultimately residual values on leases. A couple of manufacturers were already big into CPO sales, and I looked for the best program out there. Much to my surprise it was Jaguar’s CPO program that at the time looked the best. Today, every manufacturer has a certified program, although some are better than others.
After traveling from city to city talking to dealers and used car managers, I learned a lot about CPO programs and their benefits for the dealer, but most of all consumers. While most people focus on the long warranty that comes with a CPO vehicle, for me the process of certification is equally as important.
Although the programs vary by manufacturer, they all have processes by which the car goes through a rigorous checklist. Just about everything is checked to make sure it works and is in good order. Many of the programs require such things as new wiper blades, two working keys and remotes if the car is equipped with those, and they must also have a clean history. Management of the dealership has to sign a form saying all work was done and everything on the checklist was inspected and repaired.
Other perks of a Certified Pre-Owned car often include incentives such as low interest rates, roadside assistance, and a full tank of gas. In other words, it is as close to a new car as a used car can get, often for a fraction of the price of a new car.
Most CPO cars have the balance of a five or six year warranty that extends to 100,000 miles or beyond. Some of the luxury cars give long warranties on top of current mileage when the car is sold.
Price-wise, certified cars generally run more than non-certified cars, but the process the car goes through, the incentives associated with it, and most of all the warranty that is included makes it all even out in the end. Best of all, you get the peace of mind of knowing the car was gone over with a fine-toothed comb.
The only pitfall is to make sure the Certified Pre-Owned car you look at is part of a factory program. For instance, if you are looking at a Lexus CPO, make sure the dealer is part of the factory program, not his own certified program. Some dealers have tried that and gotten away with it.
Listeners ask me frequently if the premium you pay for a certified car is worth it, and for me, the answer is yes.

  1. Byron Hodges 6 years ago

    I agree that a CPO is an excellent buy. I spoke to you about this before. I thought I was buying a CPO, a 2002 Cadillac DHS from David Taylor Cadillac in 2004. I only found out that it was not when the original warranty expired. They did not enter the information into the VIZ system. I was unaware of all that should be done for a car to be certified. I know now, but buyer beware. I learned my lesson, the hard way. I still have the car and it has been a good car. I have 164,000 miles and am hoping for 200,000.

    I recently purchased a 2012 GLK-350 MB for my wife and had it in for a minor repair after someone hit her car in a parking lot. The service could not have been better. They supplied her with a loaner and had the car repaired in 1 day. This was at Alex Rodriguez MB.

    I enjoy your radio show and the weekly email.

    Thanks for all that you do for the motoring public.


    Byron Hodges

    Byron Hodges

    • Bill Redman 6 years ago

      I have purchased several Infiniti’s and Lexus vehicles under the manufactures CPO plans and will never purchase new. Depending on the vehicle and year, significant savings can be achieved. As a retired couple driving a total of 12-15000 miles per year for two vehicles, I have no problem buying a 3-4 year old CPO vehicle as there is the 3 year / 100,000 mile all inclusive warranty. Keep in mind the CPO process adds $2.500-$3,000 to the price, but when completed you have a very close to “new” vehicle.

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