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Certified Pre-Owned Cars: Good Buy or Goodbye?

When it comes to car buying, opting for used instead of new saves you a lot of money, not to mention get you a car model that you wouldn’t be able to afford otherwise. But buying used comes with a lot of pitfalls, and if you end up buying an old car with a checkered past, it can lead to a lot of remorse down the road.

Which is why car sellers created a new classification of used vehicles: certified pre-owned, or CPO. Basically, a CPO used car is designed to provide buyers with the peace of mind that they are purchasing a car in pristine condition. CPO benefits mean that the used car has been inspected, reconditioned, and quality-tested by the dealership selling the car, or the manufacturer directly. These are then certified to assure the buyer that the car meets stringent quality standards set by the dealership or manufacturer. In addition, CPO cars typically come with additional perks such as free accessories, discounted loan rates, and more.

These advantages are good and all, but the catch is, they all come at a price for the car buyer. Sometimes, that extra can potentially amount to 50 percent of the car’s fair market value.

Is a CPO car worth it?

For many consumers, the increased cost is not justified. Some people reason out: if even brand new cars can have defects, what more used cars? And what if it was flooded or a total wreck in its previous lifetime?

There’s no question that for some, CPO is just a marketing gimmick designed to make car shoppers spend more, and that belief is not without merit. There are indeed dealerships out there who have sold CPO used cars with defects, simply proving that the dealership failed to perform the extensive quality testing they claim to provide.

On the other hand, there are also plenty of trustworthy dealers out there who do their best to ensure their products are worth the additional price. These are the ones who cherry-pick their used vehicles for CPO, limiting their choices to cars with low miles and a clean vehicle history. They also protect the consumer against defects and expensive repairs with an extended manufacturer’s warranty. Suffice to say, if you’re in the market for a CPO car, these are the dealerships you want to buy your car from.

Due diligence is your responsibility

Ultimately, you need to do your due diligence to ensure you’re getting the best value for your money. Research the dealership selling the CPO car. Read customer reviews. Inspect the car inside and out. Ask to test drive the vehicle yourself. If everything checks out, go the extra mile and spend for an independent inspection. The extra cost can save thousands in the long run, and give you genuine peace of mind.

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