Buying a used car provides certain advantages, especially price savings. Many used car dealers offer “certified” vehicles, but buyers should beware. A true Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) vehicle comes with special benefits, but it pays to know what to look for. Let’s find out more.

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Many Definitions For “Certified”

Even unauthorized used car dealers will advertise certified vehicles, but this can mean many things. It could be that the car carries an extended limited warranty and not much else. Or the vehicle received a touch up and casual inspection, and the dealer is now marketing it as “certified.”

However, legitimate manufacturer dealerships must follow a specific process in order to market and sell a car as Certified Pre-Owned (CPO). First of all, the car must meet certain age and mileage limits, and it must pass a thorough inspection. Then it gets assigned an extended warranty. All of this comes with a corresponding increase in price.

How To Tell The Difference

Remember, only manufacturer dealers can offer true CPOs. That is, a Ford CPO can only come from a Ford dealer. If a used car lot is selling multiple brands, they can’t offer a true CPO package.

The best way to verify the deal is to look closely for the CPO logo. Make sure it matches the brand, and that the same brand also backs up the warranty. If you see a third party warranty, you may not be getting an authentic CPO.

Even True CPOs Vary

That said, even dealership CPOs can vary, for example, between brands. Some offer better warranty terms, and vehicle qualification terms vary as well. Additional benefits, such as warranty transfer, can be different from brand to brand, so it pays to read the fine print. Finally, make sure you ask about the warranty deductible since these can vary from $0 to $85 or more.

No CPO Plan Is Perfect

Even though a certified vehicle offers some advantages, never blindly trust any used car dealer, authorized or not. Make sure you take a good look at the vehicle yourself. Unfortunately, even authorized dealerships aytry to sell you a vehicle that has seen better days.

Inspect It Yourself

In general, everything about the CPO plan is guaranteed in writing except the inspection. Yes, the car might come with an inspection certificate, but how good was the inspection? In every used car purchase, it pays to inspect it yourself. If you have a mechanic friend, take them along with you as experienced eyes often see things you might miss.

Another option is to arrange your own qualified vehicle inspection. In most cases, this can be scheduled within days for any vehicle in the country. The advantage here is that an independent inspector has no incentive to make a sale. This adds another level of confidence to your used car purchase.

Buy or bid on any used car with confidence with a CARCHEX used vehicle inspection. Order a qualified inspection today.

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Published in CARCHEX Vehicle Inspection Resources by CARCHEX on October 29, 2015