Are Certified Pre-Owned Cars A Deal?

Photo of car salesman smiling and pointing to the keys of certified pre-owned cars.
Are Certified Pre-Owned Cars A Deal?

We’ve all seen the come-ons and advertisements telling us certified pre-owned cars are our discount ticket to premium rides. And it sure sounds good, doesn’t it? Hundred point inspections, white glove treatment and extended manufacturer warranties. The ads and salesmen assure us these are the nicest, cleanest, most meticulously and rigorously inspected used cars to be found. Well maintained, low miles. These certified pre-owned cars are so good, the manufacturer stands behind them with an extended warranty!

That’s why they’re so often sold at a premium price reflective of their impeccable service record and pristine condition.

Just one problem: Certified pre-owned cars are a complete and utter myth, and buying one is almost never a good deal.

Is it possible to find a great deal on a perfectly maintained vehicle that the previous owner treated like a family member? Absolutely — but heed this warning: stay far, far away from certified pre-owned cars.

There is absolutely no difference between a certified pre-owned car and other similar used cars in today’s market, except for one thing: the warranty. Here’s the kicker, though: you don’t really need an extended warranty these days, because most late-model cars typically don’t have major mechanical issues. Consumer Reports recently performed an extensive study where it found that 55% of owners who had extended warranties on their vehicles never used them at all. They didn’t even use them once.

Certified Pre-Owned Cars & Inspections

Many certified pre-owned car programs verify just the really, really big things, such as a lack of obvious defects and a frame that hasn’t been damaged in a serious collision. There is, however, a dirty little secret to those claims.

Certified Pre-Owned Cars VS Used Cars

There is absolutely no difference between those used cars that sold at a new-car dealership under a fancy name, and other similar used cars available elsewhere in today’s marketplace. With a CPO vehicle, the manufacturer gets an extra cut of the profits, as does the dealership, the finance company, and other third parties — from the auctions that inspect the cars, to the automotive sites and media sources that run the advertising.

It doesn’t matter if you’re looking at a $20,000 car, $10,000 car, or $2,000 car: when it comes to used vehicles, it’s always the laziest consumers who pay the most. Save the rubber stamp of guarantee that is a certified pre-owned cars and invest in things that matter more.

If you’re serious about saving money, consider a donated car – you can search for one here. And read our tips on how to get great car loans even with terrible credit.

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