Kelley Blue Book for more than two years has been showing consumers with problem credit thinking of taking out an auto loan if the vehicle they are looking at is a fair deal

What we know

At Auto Credit Express our job for the past two decades has been helping consumers with bad credit searching for online car loans find those auto dealers that can give them their best chances for a loan approval. At the same time we try to point them in the right direction when it comes to choosing the right vehicle.

Making the right choices

What it comes down to is that most consumers with poor credit will reach the conclusion that it's more affordable to finance a 2 or 3-year-old used car, especially with a high-risk auto loan.  Considering the current level of vehicle quality as well as the high depreciation most new cars experience, this decision makes a lot of sense.

Almost immediately those same car buyers are often faced with another decision: should they buy a regular used car or a certified used car?

Certified used cars

Typical certified used car programs (also called as CPO or Certified Pre Owned) work this way: if a vehicle meets specific age and mileage requirements, it's eligible to go through an inspection process. Following the required replacement of worn, broken or defective parts, a franchised new car dealer can then sell it with a manufacturer-backed extended warranty (really a service contract).

Because of the additional parts and labor costs, certified used cars are usually sold at a premium over their non-certified counterparts.

Kelley Blue Book

Because the benefits of buying a certified used car come at a price, the purchase decision usually comes down to affordability. Up until 2010, it was often difficult to determine a competitive price for one of these manufacturer-backed certified used cars since the used car values listed in both NADA and Kelley Blue Book only covered regular used cars. But that all changed when, in May, visitors to were able to determine the value of a certified used car.

According to Kelley, certified used car values are calculated in the same way as that of a conventional used car, while also factoring in the "value that is associated with the certified used program."

This is not as easy as it may seem, because the certified used car programs for each manufacturer vary widely. This also means that the difference in value between a regular used car and a CPO vehicle also fluctuates by manufacturer since some offer longer warranties and more additional services (such as rental cars) than others.

It also means that comparing one Chevrolet certified used car to another certified used Chevy is easier than comparing a certified used Chevrolet to a certified used Ford model. To help solve this dilemma, Kelley also has a feature that allows you to list up to four different manufacturers programs, side-by-side, to directly compare their various features.

Be sure it's manufacturer-backed

"Many car shoppers have heard the term 'certified' but they aren't sure exactly what that means, let alone if it is right for them or what they should be paying for a CPO vehicle," said James Bell, executive market analyst for Kelley Blue Book. "The CPO section on and Kelley Blue Book's CPO Value take the mystery out of CPO and provide shoppers with all of the tools and advice they need to research and purchase a CPO car."

Keep in mind that the programs being discussed are those certified by their respective manufacturers. Unfortunately, just because a dealer advertises a car as certified doesn't necessarily mean it has to be part of a manufacturer-backed program.

If it isn't, you may be required to pay for any repairs up front and submit the receipts to an outside warranty company for reimbursement – a process that can prove to be a hassle.

As we see it

Certified used cars are usually pricier than their non-certified counterparts. The costs of an inspection, worn and/or defective parts replacement and a fairly comprehensive service contract can all add up. Before buying one, it makes sense for all buyers, but especially those with poor credit, to research and compare the selling prices of certified pre-owned vehicles to their non-CPO counterparts (priced with a comparable warranty from a reputable warranty company).

One more thing to consider: at Auto Credit Express we match applicants that have experienced car credit issues with those dealers that can give them their best chances for approved car loans.

So if you're ready to reestablish your auto credit, you can begin now by filling out our online car loan application.