Used cars(46246)

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Many consumers are not aware that buying the right certified pre-owned car (CPO car) can save them money. While a certified used vehicle is generally in like-new condition, you only pay the depreciated value. However, in order to identify a good deal, it is important to understand how certified pre-owned car programs work and what to look for.

Step #1 - Differentiate between manufacturer certified pre-owned car programs and third-party warranties. Manufacturer-certified vehicles are generally no more than five years old. Manufacturer-trained technicians avail themselves of a checklist to ensure that each vehicle meets the manufacturer’s stringent standards and passes all the certification inspections. Only vehicles that pass the required inspections receive the “certified pre-owned” sticker. 

Note that manufacturers are not the only ones that offer certified pre-owned car programs. Car dealers often sell vehicles as “certified.” However, unlike a factory-certified vehicle, dealers often require that you purchase a third-party warranty. 

Original manufacturers do not back third-party warranties. Moreover, while the price of a manufacturer certified vehicle includes the warranty, third-party warranties require that you pay an additional fee.  

Step #2 - Determine the model of certified pre-owned car you would like to purchase. Take advantage of online resources such as and to look up used car reviews.   

Step #3 - Look for a certified pre-owned car online. Many car dealers have a website on which they post their inventory of certified pre-owned cars. You can save time if you view the inventory online and contact the dealer via email or the telephone regarding the vehicle’s details before visiting the dealership.  

Step #4 - Visit the dealership once you find a certified pre-owned car that meets your specifications. According to, request to see the inspection report for the specific car. Match the vehicle identification number (VIN) on the report to the number on the certified car you want to purchase. 

Step #5 - Inspect the certified pre-owned car. Mismatched paint on different body panels could indicate that the car sustained body damage in an accident. You should see a sticker with the VIN when you open each car door. If any of the stickers are missing, the door or corresponding panel might have been replaced due to an accident. Test drive the used vehicle and make sure you’re comfortable with its performance.

Step #6 - Find out exactly what the certified pre-owned car program covers. Ask the sales person whether the car is manufacturer CPO backed. One advantage of a CPO backed warranty is that any dealer nationwide will generally honor it. Another advantage is that  factory certified pre-owned vehicles are in better condition, as they are generally newer models.

Warranty length and details can vary significantly from dealer to dealer. While some warranties might extend for a specific period of time, others cover a limited number of miles. 

Additionally, inquire whether the program includes any incentives.  Some manufacturer warranties often include incentives like road assistance.    

Step #7 - Negotiate the price on your certified pre-owned car. Experts recommend using the vehicle’s true market value (TMV) as a guide in the negotiation process. To find a vehicle’s TMV, take advantage of online resources. offers such capability.  Simply choose the “Used Cars” tab and select “Appraise Your Car.”

Although a certified pre-owned car can save you money, it’s important to choose the right program while taking some precautions. Remember that you should not have to pay separately for a certification warranty. Manufacturer certified pre-owned autos are generally newer and in better condition. Finally, remember that warranty details can vary significantly from dealer to dealer. Make sure you have a clear understanding of all the details regarding your certified pre-owned car.

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