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What To Look (and Lookout) For In A CPO Program

When checking out some of the certified used programs available, here are some tips to insure your own peace-of-mind in the transaction:

Tip #1: Inspect the points of the inspection

Each program can boast well over a hundred points of inspection. It is safe to assume that the vehicle has been refurbished in these areas if it passed the inspection through to certification. The key to looking at these points is in identifying the major fixes that would have otherwise cost you a bundle. Remember, many of these points would be covered in a tune up, detailing or might even be part of a state safety inspection required for all used cars sold by dealers.

Key inspection points:

  • VIN Inspection (emissions, service & recall, VIN code issues, etc.
  • Road Testing (automatic transmission shift points/slippage, drive axle; clutch; steering; brakes/ABS, gauge operation)
  • Body Exterior (frame damage, accident repair)
  • Interior (airbag, dash light operation, smoker car?)
  • Powertrain (fluid leakages, water in oil, cylinder compression reading, timing belt)
  • Fuel System (fuel pump, fuel lines, oil pressure)
  • Suspension/Steering (control arms, ball joints, tie rods, tire wear, alignment)
  • Brakes (calipers/cylinders, rotor, hydraulics, etc.)

Tip #2: Get the warranty the vehicle warrants

Each Certified Pre-Owned program offers a specific, non-negotiable warranty. When reviewing the warranties offered, research whether the particular model has a history of maintenance issues or transmission failures and make a judgment call from that perspective. If the brand of the vehicle is known for quality and low maintenance, it might justify a shorter warranty.

Most programs offer an extended warranty beyond the CPO warranty, but each program differs in cost and features. You also may want to research whether the vehicle still has any of the original warranty left on it -- this will only add to the length of the warranty overall.

Tip #3: Look for special incentives and finance deals

One of the most unique features of Certified Pre-Owned vehicles is that finance and lease deals are being extended to a used vehicle - which was virtually unheard of in the past.

CPO Program Details

Not all CPO programs are created equal. How does the one you're considering stack up?