How to Compare CPO Programs

Buying a certified pre-owned car is an excellent alternative to buying new and has more benefits than buying a pre-owned vehicle that is not certified.

Although certified pre-owned (CPO) vehicles take some of the guesswork and risk out of buying a used car, you need a good understanding of a CPO program to determine if you’re getting a reliable vehicle at a reasonable price.

Here, you’ll learn how to compare CPO programs to get the best certified pre-owned vehicle for you.

Pay Attention to Inspection Points

Unless you have extensive knowledge about vehicle maintenance, you may not know what makes one CPO car better than the next. Aside from checking the basics, like mileage, it can be difficult to determine if (and how) a certified pre-owned vehicle is superior to one that doesn’t follow certification standards.

Inspection points can be helpful to look at when shopping for certified pre-owned cars. The points refer to the number of items inspected before certification. Luxury cars often have higher points, while other manufacturers don’t use numbers but rather use words like “comprehensive.”

While high numbers are often promising for a great CPO vehicle, you should always ask to see the inspection checklist to get a specific breakdown of what was inspected and the ratings for each component (such as brakes or transmission).

Get Warranty Details

Certified pre-owned cars are highly desirable for several reasons, but not only are prospective buyers looking for a reliable and affordable vehicle but one with a good warranty. Not all CPO vehicles have the same certifications, and it’s important to understand that the warranties may also vary.

Newer certified pre-owned cars may still have an original warranty in effect. Will the CPO extended warranty go into effect after the original warranty expires or will they overlap? There are many things to consider and make sure you understand before you sign the paperwork.

Check the Finance Rates

Interest rates are typically the lowest on new cars, but some CPO vehicles are available at a lower interest rate than non-certified used vehicles.

Like warranties, it’s important to study and understand the terms and conditions of the finance rates before settling on a CPO vehicle. Not all manufacturers offer a lower finance rate for CPO vehicles, and not all buyers are eligible, so do your research before buying.

The Option to Exchange or Return Your Vehicle

Even with a thorough inspection, a fair price, and a reasonable warranty, you might decide that your newly-purchased CPO vehicle is not for you. Depending on the manufacturer, you might be out of luck and cannot return, exchange, or seek a refund.

Some manufacturers offer a limited-exchange policy for CPO vehicles, so if the option to exchange is important to you, be sure to read and understand the terms.

What Else is Covered?

Some CPO programs offer very few “extras” aside from a guaranteed inspection and certification.

If you need roadside assistance or free scheduled maintenance, look for a program that provides what you need to ensure that you’re getting the best deal possible.