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Used Vs. Certified Pre-Owned: What’s The Difference

While shopping for cars, have you ever come across the term “certified pre-owned” or ‘CPO” and wondered how it’s different from “used”. People often assume that cars are either new or used, which to an extent, is true. However, there are differences between used vehicles and certified used or preowned. They may seem like similar terms, but there are major differences between them. While both terms mean a car has been driven before, a CPO car is a newer model that has low mileage. On the other hand, used cars tend to have a lot of miles on it and usually an older model. Of course, these are not the only categories that separate a certified used car from a used one. The goal of this post is to explore the options consumers have when deciding between a certified pre-owned car and a used car. 

Used Car

For many people, buying a used car is more affordable than buying a new car. And rightfully so, used cars are cheaper and the cost of insurance usually costs less as well. Used cars are great for new drivers and people on a budget but are still looking for a reliable vehicle. The major knock on used vehicles, however, is that they aren’t in as good condition as certified pre-owned vehicles. In addition, the dealer you buy the car from usually will not extend the original warranty. But even if the dealership or manufacturer offers to extend it for a price, it may be a bad investment. If you purchase an extended warranty and the vehicle breaks down after, you essential threw money away.

Certified Pre-Owned (CPO)

When you see the words “certified pre-owned” next to a car, you might be a little perplexed. A vehicle labeled CPO must meet certain criteria regarding condition, mileage, and model year. Typical CPO cars were either leased and returned and/or have less than 80,000 miles on them. On top of that, CPO cars go through deep inspections by certified mechanics. During the inspection process, if the mechanic does find any worn parts or broken pieces, they repair it before making it available for sale. Additionally, CPO vehicles normally come with the original manufacturer warranty or an extended one which includes perks such as roadside assistance.


So as you can see certified pre-owned vehicles have major selling points. Unlike used cars, repairs and inspection are not billed to you, unless you wanted an inspection or repairs. In that case, you would have to pay for the inspection and repairs in addition to buying the vehicle. CPO vehicles usually come with the original warranty, and the dealer may be able to extend it.  

Which Is Better? Depends On The Buyer

After looking over some details regarding used cars versus certified pre-owned cars, hopefully, you at least have a better understanding of both. CPO vehicles cost more than used vehicles, but they also come with inspections and perks. The perks include an extended manufacturer warranty, roadside assistance, and possibly rental car reimbursement. For some, the perks and extended warranty justify spending extra on a car, however, others disagree. Yes, the perks are great, but the extra money you spend on a CPO car could be spent on repairs for a used car. In other words, if you buy a used car you will likely spend less upfront. Then, if something were to go wrong with the used car, you would use the money you did not spend on the CPO car, on the used car’s repair. It is possible to find used cars with similar mileage and condition to a CPO vehicle, but it may also take longer to find it. 

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