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Get answer for the most popular questions about Certified Used Cars

Used car prices are expected to fall, while dealer trade-in inventories are on the rise, because of recent record-setting new-car sales. In this climate, Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) vehicles are likely to become even more of a fixture on dealer lots. To help you decide whether or not to buy a CPO car, truck, or SUV, here are the answers to 9 frequently asked questions to walk you through the details.

How much cheaper are CPOs versus new cars?

One of the main selling points for a CPO vehicle is that you can get a newish car without paying new-car prices. A two-year-old CPO typically can be about 25 percent cheaper than buying a brand-new version of the same vehicle. Four-year-old CPOs can be marked down as much as 40 percent from the original sticker price. On the other hand, they will cost more than non-certified used vehicles because of some of the perks they offer.

What kinds of perks are included?

CPO vehicles are, by nature, lightly used. Automakers require vehicles to successfully complete an exhaustive inspection checklist that includes at least 150 items before gaining the CPO designation. Audi has more than 300 points on its laundry list of things that must be checked and approved before a vehicle can be certified. There are mileage limits that vary by company; for example, General Motors’ Buick, Chevrolet, and GMC CPOs must be from the current or preceding five model years and have 75,000 miles or less on the odometer.Certified Used Cars will also typically come with a vehicle history report and 24-hour roadside assistance.

Who inspects them?

Candidates for CPO status are inspected by the franchised dealer’s factory-trained mechanics. However, even with these multi-point inspections, the cars and trucks are not guaranteed to be trouble-free transport. You may want to have your own trusted mechanic look over the vehicle as well.

Is there a warranty?

Yes, that is another perk, thanks to CPO vehicles’ relative youth. Warranties and Certified Used Cars go together like tires and wheels. Automakers advertise the warranties as a show of confidence in how much life the vehicles have left in them. The coverage period varies by brand, so do your homework, but even on the stingy end, the coverage can be as much as six years or 80,000 miles from the date the vehicle was originally sold as new. Make sure to research which components aren’t covered under your intended brand’s warranty, since that also varies. As a rule, wear items such as brakes aren’t covered.

Do CPO warranties have deductibles?

In some cases, yes. For example, Ford’s 12-month, 12,000-mile CPO warranty, which extends the original three-year/36,000-mile warranty, has a $100 deductible for covered repairs. Be sure to ask the dealer whether there is a warranty deductible and how much it is so you’re not surprised later if you have to take them up on the coverage. And, of course, always read the fine print.

Do all automakers have CPO programs?

Very nearly. Even Bugatti has one. Check out our guide to 41 manufacturers’ CPO programs.

How do you find CPO vehicles?

You can find them on most franchised dealers’ websites. They will typically be located in the used-vehicle section. Physically, at the dealership, the cars and trucks that are Certified Used Cars will generally have a sticker or sign on them showing their certified status.

Is “CPO” the same as “dealer certified”?

No. Certified Used Cars are backed by the manufacturers. Dealer-certified vehicles are subject to the whim of said dealers. In a worst-case scenario, if a dealer closes its doors, a dealer-backed warranty becomes useless. That is not to mention that dealer-certified warranties lack the uniform guidelines of Certified Used Cars which, as mentioned, come straight from the automakers.

What else should I know?

You should know that while these are all common factors for CPO vehicles, programs vary from automaker to automaker. Check out our guide, referenced above. And if you’re nearing purchase of a vehicle, be sure to spend time with the relevant paperwork before signing off on anything. A vehicle is a major purchase. A CPO car or truck could fit nicely between brand-new and cheap for your transportation needs, but patience in deciding this will always be a virtue.

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