How to Buy a Used Car From Certified Pre-Owned Dealers

All new cars are quite similar, which is to say that every equipped new car on a dealer’s lot has the same mileage, price, and is in the same condition. A few years later, they’re becoming all different. Gradually, buying a new car is different than shopping for a used car.

And buying a Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) car is different still. On one hand, there are no two CPO cars that present the same mileage or are in the exact same condition, so you could find yourself having to balance the pros and cons of two otherwise similar models. On the other hand, all CPOs meet certain condition and mileage requirements, and in most cases, they offer the reassurance of car extended warranty, so they all offer peace of mind.

In a word, shopping for a Certified Pre-Owned car may need more research and work than buying a new car, but comes with fewer pitfalls than buying used.

Choose a certain model as a start and a group of backup options

According to Autodata, 2018 car sales in the U.S. broke down as follows: 40 million used cars; used vehicles sales edged up 1% in 2018 to 39.6 million vehicles; and just over 1.5 million Certified Pre-Owned cars. CPO cars keep up to gain in relative popularity, and it’s still the smallest amount of vehicles out there.

So, if your heart is set exactly upon CPO, it can be a great idea to choose a few more backup choices. The more options you have as a buyer, the better.

Study the CPO cars and the programs

Researching before purchasing is essential. After selecting the options you like, check out the max age and mileage of the vehicles that are eligible for CPO certification, and other program terms. You can use our Certified Pre-Owned program comparison tool to evaluate how different programs stack up. Figure out how expensive the checks and inspection are, and the details of the car extended warranty. Many dealerships now include an AutoCheck or same car history report, which can present whether the car has been damaged, has title problems, or is otherwise questionable.

Check online to find more Certified Pre-Owned models

When you’re ready to spend on your desired cars and their programs, you can find Certified Pre-Owned vehicles for sale at

Meet with the dealer

When you finally find your ideal car and determine it’s time to visit the dealer, remember that prices on CPO cars are negotiable, just as they are for any other used car.

Don’t only shoot for or expect big bargains on a Certified Pre-Owned vehicle. Franchised new-car dealers nearly have been getting as much as 95 percent of their posted price for used cars according to CNW Marketing Research.

See if it’s possible to lease the CPO used car. Is a loaner car available if repairs are somehow needed? Look through the return/exchange policy, and the availability of financing, ideally comparable to what’s offered on a new vehicle.

As you drive off the lot in the ideal car, feel good about the costs you saved compared to a new car, and the added peace of mind you have compared to a used car.

Featured image: DepositPhotos – VitalikRadko