Knowing about the different types of CPO cars can save you a lot of time- and money For many the phrase “Certified Pre Owned” (CPO) is the definitive seal of approval for a smart automotive buy, but unfortunately this label isn’t always the savvy purchase it’s made out to be.
For many the phrase “Certified Pre Owned” (CPO) is the definitive seal of approval for a smart automotive buy, but unfortunately (the car purchasing process being what it is) this label isn’t always the savvy purchase it’s made out to be. There are in fact a number of meanings this term can carry, and they come with certain advantages and disadvantages- while some cars are only dealer certified, others are covered by the manufacturer, and it’s important to know the difference between the different kinds of CPO offers to ensure you’re getting the best from your new vehicle. This article will break down these different meanings, and help you know what to look for in your search.
First of all, we need to know what CPO actually means, and generally this is either a car that has been traded in, or bought for resale. Though a CPO car usually means you pay a premium for your car, it also means that it has usually had a pre-purchase inspection performed on it, as well as a safety test, and may come with a warranty. So there’s a little piece of mind. Moving on, things get a little more specific.
The first kind of CPO car we’re going to discuss is a dealer CPO car. This is a kind of CPO vehicle that is inspected to the discretionary standards of a specific dealership. The check-list that a car must meet to be CPO at a dealership is extensive and varies based on the dealership, but it usually includes components such as mileage, and the conditions of the brakes, clutch, and tires. Although these vehicles don’t usually have any history of accidents, the car is still fixed up to the dealership’s standards in order to be sold as a CPO car.
The catch with dealerships is that any warranty promised is usually limited to that particular dealership, and are often less trustworthy due to a lack of outside inspection or approval. This means that despite the premium you pay for the certification, you are still just trusting the dealership’s word about the condition and quality of inspection performed on the car. Warranties also tend to be very restrictive with dealership CPO cars. You can get any used car independently checked out by a mechanic, and a third party warranty to cover the vehicle, this often costs less than a CPO car. However, third party warranties are notorious for not paying up when you need them to.
The second kind of CPO car can be found at franchised used car stores. Similar to dealerships, franchises will check the mechanical and aesthetic condition of vehicles, but will likely issue a warranty that is good at any of the franchise’s locations, unlike a dealership. The added flexibility also comes with more credible warranty guarantees, an advantage of CPO cars bought at a franchise.
Although the peace-of-mind is a little nicer at a franchise, and the inspections tend to be more reliable, it’s still quite a pricey service given that the same process can be done with a good mechanic and car-fax, saving you a lot of money. Franchise warranties also tend to be very time-sensitive, with coverage expiring only months after a car’s purchase.
In case you haven’t followed the build-up here, the quite extensive factory CPO method is next, which has some obvious advantages over other forms of CPO cars. New car dealerships often have used car departments, specializing in selling certified used vehicles. These cars must adhere to strict conditions and requirements mandated by manufacturers in order to qualify for certification. Things like an accident-free past, mileage caps, and reconditioning and repair standards are all necessary parts of a vehicle’s certification from a factory. In addition to this, these vehicles carry an extensive factory owned warranty, which is backed not only by the dealer, but by any location where the vehicle is sold.
The advantages of this type of CPO car are numerous, most notably of which is that greater care is taken with these vehicles, as the brand reputation, not just the specific dealer of franchise is at stake. This process is no doubt the most expensive, but what you’re paying for are guarantees based in a standardized process, and inspections that occur on a number of different levels.
When all is said and done there are advantages and disadvantages to all methods of CPO car purchasing, be it pricing, warranty, or reliability. What you need to decide as a buyer is what you trust and what your own level of knowledge and comfort is when it comes to purchasing a vehicle. Often people will tell you the extra money is worth the peace-of-mind, but this is totally dependent on what you’re looking for, and definitely who you’re buying from.