Buying a car is a big decision and most people will think about either buying or leasing a car. The math, in the majority of cases, shows that leasing (there are exceptions) is more expensive in the long run. So most smart financial experts tell you to buy used, especially since your new car can depreciate as much as 11% once you drive off that lot!
Now, there is always the worry of buying a used car and having to deal with repairs which could burn a big hole in your pocket book and create a ton of stress.
And that is the beauty of CPO. If you are asking "is buying certified Pre Owned worth it?" My answer is yes.
WHAT DOES CERTIFIED PRE OWNED MEAN?
The CPO program was created in the 90's by luxury brand car manufacturers. And today, most manufacturers have their own CPO program in place.
A certified pre owned car is a one that has been inspected by the dealer and goes through a rigorous inspection. CPO cars typically have less than 80K miles and are less than 5 years old. Most manufacturers state somewhere between 150 to 200 points of inspection. And when they perform repairs, they are using original dealer parts.
The most important thing to note when buying a CPO car is that you must get it from the dealership. A CPO car is backed by the manufacturer and if there are any repairs that need to be done while it's under the CPO warranty, you can take it to any dealership.
You need to be aware that there are used car dealers that may say their cars are CPO, but they do this as a sales tool and just slap on an extended warranty of their own on these cars. If you aren't getting a CPO car from a dealership, then it isn't a true CPO car.
Note: Dealers also carry used cars that are NOT certified pre owned, so make sure you ask and get proper documentation showing that the car has been pre-certified.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF BUYING A CPO VEHICLE?
The biggest benefit of buying a CPO car is - peace of mind.
The reason a lot of people lease cars is because they don't want to worry about repairs and they also like to drive newer cars. The CPO program gives you these benefits, while paying a little more than the price of a used car. As always, make sure you use the NADA guide website to ensure you aren't over paying.
Imagine buying a used 328i BMW that's 2 years old for the price of a lease on a Honda. With a CPO car, this is possible.
HOW DO CERTIFIED PRE OWNED PROGRAMS WORK?
Each manufacturer has different terms for their programs. Typically, CPO programs add a limited warranty to the existing program. So whenever you have a problem that's covered by the CPO plan, you bring it back to any dealer and they will fix your car. Some CPO programs have deductibles.
Below are examples of how the BMW and Lexus CPO Programs work, so you can see the difference:
THE BMW CERTIFIED PRE OWNED WARRANTY
What's great about BMW new car warranties is that they include all maintenance. This basically means inspections and oil changes. This warranty usually is 4 years / 50K miles.
The CPO warranty includes the remaining of the new car warranty, and then adds an additional 2 years or 50K miles. Whichever comes first. This warranty covers less than the new car warranty. Things like brakes, spark plugs, vacuum hoses, maintenance aren't covered.
So the total CPO warranty is 6 years / 100K miles. Whichever comes first.
$50 deducible when the CPO warranty kicks in.
THE BMW CERTIFIED PRE OWNED ELITE
So BMW actually has two tiers of CPO Programs. For cars that have more than 300 miles but less than 15,001 miles, they have this "Elite" CPO. Which in my opinion shouldn't be called Elite since it's a worse CPO program than the "standard."
This "Elite" warranty adds 1 year /25K miles to the new car warranty.
So the total CPO warranty is 5 years / 75K miles. Whichever comes first.
$50 deductible when the CPO warranty kicks in.
NOTE: The warranty start date is from the first in-service date. This, in my opinion, is pretty sneaky as they don't advertise when the start date is. So for example, if you bought a 2011 BMW and the driver bought their car in 2010 brand new and took it in for service in 2010, then the clock starts ticking at that time. Meaning if you thought the warranty was 6 years from 2011, then you are wrong. It would be 6 years from 2010.
So make sure you ask when the warranty actually started as this could be the difference of an extra year.
THE LEXUS CERTIFIED PRE OWNED WARRANTY
Now lets take a look at how the Lexus CPO warranty compares.
Lexus makes their CPO warranty a little easier to understand. It's 3 years from the date of purchase or 100K total vehicle miles. Whichever comes first.
And what's great about this CPO program is that they offer the same coverage new car buyers receive.
USING THE NADA GUIDE TO BUY CERTIFIED PRE OWNED
In the examples above, you can see how CPO programs differ. Overall, they are a great value and offer peace of mind. It's going to be much cheaper buying a CPO car, than buying a brand new car.
Before buying a CPO car, make sure you research price ahead of time using the NADA Guide and KBB.
Would you buy CPO?