The Pros and Cons of Buying a Certified Pre-Owned Car

Dec 25, 2019 2 min read

Is it time to trade in your vehicle and upgrade to a more reliable or newer ride? You’ve done your research and you know what make/model and features you want, but you may be wondering if buying a certified pre-owned (CPO) car is the way to go. Let’s start with the basics. 

Dealers can give vehicles a “certified pre-owned” designation based on an automaker’s specifications, or they can certify them on their own. Typically, CPO vehicles are considered “gently used,” have low mileage and no record of significant damage.

To qualify for a CPO program, vehicles generally must meet maximum mileage and age qualifications set by the automaker. Dealers certify these vehicles by performing a detailed, multi-point inspection and reconditioning process, and they often come with a manufacturer-backed warranty. 

In general, CPO vehicles have a slightly higher cost than non-CPO vehicles. But, is buying a certified pre-owned car worth the cost? Consider these pros and cons before purchasing a certified pre-owned car. 

The Pros of Buying a Certified Pre-Owned Car

Multipoint Inspection

CPO inspections are based on the automaker’s guidelines, but inspections in general cover safety, emissions and operation. They’ll look at the braking system, transmission parts and operation, most aspects of the engine, fluid levels and other components based on the automaker’s guidelines. Cosmetic elements like dents may also be examined. 


One common benefit of buying a CPO vehicle is that it may come with a warranty. It’s reassuring to know you won’t be left on the hook to cover expensive repairs if something should pop up during the warranty period. The type of warranty — bumper-to-bumper, powertrain, extended — varies based on the specific CPO program. It’s important to read the warranty’s fine print and identify any extra costs associated with obtaining a warranty on the vehicle. 

Financing Perks

With CPO programs, manufacturers often offer special financing deals. Lenders may also offer discounted rates for CPO vehicles. 

The Cons of Buying a Certified Pre-Owned Car

Availability and Choice

Not every used car is eligible to become a CPO. The low mileage and excellent condition is why you’d want one, after all. But the strict standards mean your choices as a buyer are limited. If your heart is set on a particular color or trim, it might be hard to find a CPO match.


With the extra perks of buying a certified preowned vehicle — inspection, warranty, etc. — CPO vehicles are often more expensive than non-CPO vehicles. To ensure you’re not over-paying, determine the value of the vehicle and then factor in the cost for the extra perks. Don’t be afraid to walk away from the deal if the numbers don’t add up. 


CPO vehicles are still used cars and may bring unexpected expenses in the future. Even though certified pre-owned vehicles undergo more thorough inspections, they don’t always catch everything. Factor in any upcoming scheduled maintenance the vehicle will need — replacing original brakes and tires, for instance, adds a substantial expense.

Insuring Your Certified Pre-Owned Car

Once you’ve inked the deal and gotten the keys, you’ll almost be ready to hit the road. Before you take your new ride out for a spin, connect with your local Farm Bureau agent to see how customizable coverage can help you protect your latest investment. 

Want to learn more?

Contact a local FBFS agent or advisor for answers personalized to you.