Certified pre-owned (CPO) vehicles are a type of used car that a franchised dealership puts through a thorough inspection and refurbishment set forth by the manufacturer. Once the process is complete, they’re certified and ready to be sold again as CPO models.

Certified Pre-Owned vs. Used Cars

In order for a car to be certified, it must go through a manufacturer’s inspection program and meet their CPO qualifications. While each automaker has different requirements, vehicles typically need to be in very good condition (both interior and exterior), be no more than five years old, and have a relatively low mileage (generally no more than 60,000). The required inspection is what makes a CPO car different from a regular used vehicle – you have the peace of mind that comes with knowing it meets the manufacturer's standards.

Typically, regular used cars aren’t covered by a manufacturer-backed warranty. In order to get the same inspection and refurbishment of a CPO, you’d need to take the vehicle to a mechanic and pay out of pocket. This means if the mechanic finds anything wrong, you’d be paying for the repairs. With a CPO, the repairs are taken care of before you buy. Although the cost of repairs and warranty generally increases the price of a CPO, it does save you the time and cost of an inspection and an extended warranty.

Certified Used Car Warranties

Understanding Certified Pre-Owned Cars What makes CPOs attractive to car buyers are their warranties. Used vehicles typically come with what’s left of the factory warranty, if any. CPO’s are not only covered by a warranty, they’re covered by a manufacturer-backed extended warranty starting from the car’s original in-service date.

In addition to the warranty, CPO programs can offer extra benefits such as roadside assistance, discounted rates on financing, and, in some cases, free maintenance. Each program is different, so make sure you ask questions and find out what each offers. Because of the warranty, CPO cars are priced at a premium and generally cost more than non-certified used vehicles.

Something important to know is that the warranty these cars come with doesn't always offer the same coverage as a new car’s bumper-to-bumper warranty.

When’s the Best Time to Buy a CPO?

The best time to buy a CPO vehicle depends on the manufacturer’s program and the car's age. Similar to buying a used vehicle, the ideal age for a CPO is around three to five years old. The reason why is because you don’t want to end up paying for more warranty coverage than you anticipate to use.

For example, if you purchase a CPO from Honda, you can expect the powertrain warranty to extend the length of the original powertrain warranty of five years or 60,000 miles to seven years or 100,000 miles. If the CPO you purchase is only a year old, you may not need the extra coverage

Ready to Buy Second Hand?

Choosing between a CPO car and a regular used vehicle can be tough. Besides the cost of the car, you need to consider the added expense of the CPO warranty versus any potential out-of-pocket costs of a regular used vehicle.

When you’re ready to buy a car, you can turn to Auto Credit Express to help you get started. We work with a nationwide network of dealers that have the lending resources available to get you the financing you need. Get started by filling out our free, online auto loan request form today.