What Does Certified Pre-Owned Mean? Pros, Cons, and Considerations

When you're finally ready to get a new car for yourself, it's kind of an exciting process. Everybody likes new things, right? However, there's a lot of controversies out there about whether you should be new, used, or certified pre-owned. 

If you're looking to save money, trying to get the best deal, or are on a limited budget, let's focus on certified pre-owned vehicles.

But what does certified pre-owned mean? Is it better than buying a regular used car? What's the difference?

Follow along for an in-depth guide at certified pre-owned (CPO) vehicles, what they are, and all the pros and cons of buying one!

What Does Certified Pre-Owned Mean?

First, let's talk about the "certified pre-owned" title.

CPO vehicles are still used cars. However, in order to be tagged as a CPO, it must meet specific demands, go through a certifying process, and offer warranties to buyers. A vehicle can become certified pre-owned through the original manufacturer and/or dealership CPO programs.

Let's take a look.


For a car to even be considered for the CPO program, it must be relatively new, typically no more than three to six years old. However, a six-year-old used car is more of an exception than the rule.

These cars also have few than 30,000 to 70,000 miles. Once again, the higher end of the spectrum is rare and CPO vehicles typically have much few miles on them.

Finally, there's a certain level of maintenance CPO cars must be subjected to in order to qualify. They must have been well-cared for and have a clean record, as well. Cars with a poor history won't qualify.


What does certified pre-owned mean for quality?

Once a CPO contender has been approved, it must go through a mechanical and aesthetic refurbishment process. Here, the vehicles entire mechanical and electrical system will be examined, tuned up, etc.

Then, the vehicle gets a cosmetic treatment inside and out. This includes buffing out any small dents or scratches, fixing upholstery, removing stains, odors, etc. 

When all is said and done, a CPO vehicle is a spotlessly clean, like-new vehicle.


What does certified pre-owned mean for your budget?

When it comes to finances, choosing a CPO vehicle will help you find a happy middle-ground between cost and quality. CPOs are more expensive than typical used cars but less expensive than brand-new cars.

Certified pre-owned vehicles will also save you money (compared to new cars) with insurance, financing, and event registration.

Because the car is already a few years old, the worst of the depreciation of the vehicle has already happened. When you buy brand-new, it can lose up to 20% of its value in the first year.

Insurance companies are a business, their overall goal is to make money. Therefore, if you buy a brand-new $40,000 to $50,000 car, they've got a lot of fat in the fire to ensure you. This means your premium will be much higher.

Alternatively, a certified pre-owned vehicle will be cheaper for them to replace in the event it's totaled, which means your insurance premium will be less. It may not seem like a big deal, but $80 a month compared to $150 makes a big difference over a few years.

Finally, different states have different means of determining the cost of registration. Some states charge a flat rate, others by age of the car, some by weight, and others by value. Depending on your state, buying a brand new expensive car may end up costing you $400 to $600 a year to register!


What does certified pre-owned mean for your options?

One of the best benefits of buying a certified pre-owned vehicle is that it presents you with more options. Assuming you are on any type of budget, buying a new car will limit your options significantly.

Say you have $25,000 to spend. You can buy a relatively low-end brand new car or a certified pre-owned luxury/loaded car that's a few years old. Sure, the technology will be older and you won't experience the "new car smell," but they make air fresheners that replicate it pretty well!

Alternatively, you can buy a brand new car for $25,000, but you won't be privy to all the bells and whistles that come with the loaded versions. This includes things like On-Star, Sirius radio, leather seats, high-def audio, entertainment units, sun/moon roof, better wheels, etc.

In the end, it depends on where you want your money going. Do you want a more basic brand new car or a CPO older car that's got more bells and whistles?


What does certified pre-owned mean for your protection?

Next, you may be wondering about warranties and buyer-protection. After all, brand new cars come with manufacturer warranties and even dealership extended warranties to cover any issues with your car. What about CPOs?

One of the benefits over buying a certified pre-owned vs a used car is that it comes with all these warranties! However, in order to take full advantage of these warranties, make sure you fully understand what the terms of the policy are.

Some warranties begin once you buy the vehicle and cover a certain amount of time or added mileage. Others are based on a total mileage number or the total amount of time. It ultimately depends on who the certifying entity is, as does where you can have your car serviced under the warranty.


Finally, let's talk about the advantage of user experience. In terms of knowledge, buying a certified pre-owned car means you have thousands of reviews and testimonials from other owners. You can research any common problems, malfunctions, or complaints other drivers have had over the past few years about the exact model and year you're considering buying.

Brand new cars are great, but with a CPO, you'll know exactly what you're getting into.

What's Right for You?

What does certified pre-owned mean for your life?

Now that you have all the details about CPOs and the many benefits of owning one, do you think it would be the right choice for you? If you're curious, take a look at our inventory.

However, we also have uncertified used cars and brand new cars if you think you'd like to go in a different direction. Either way, we've got you covered. Contact us if you have any questions!


What Does Certified Pre-Owned Mean? Pros, Cons, and Considerations - Antelope Valley Nissan

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