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 a certified pre-owned (CPO) car is the way to go. Let’s start with the basics.

So, how does a vehicle get the CPO designation? 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 significant damage on file. 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 often comes with a manufacturer-backed warranty.

In general, CPO vehicles have a slightly higher cost compared to non-CPO vehicles. But, is it worth the cost?

Here are some things you should consider before you pick your next pre-owned car.


Multipoint inspection

CPO inspections are based on the automaker’s guidelines, but in general inspections cover safety, emissions and operation. They’ll look at things like 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 it may come with a warranty. Warranties can give you as a buyer a little more reassurance knowing that 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 — can vary based on the specific CPO program. It’s important to read the fine print around the warranty 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.



With the extra perks of buying a certified preowned vehicle — inspection, warranty and other benefits — CPO vehicles are often more expensive compared to 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.

Won’t eliminate all the risks

CPO vehicles are still used cars and may bring unexpected and expected expenses in the future. Even though, certified pre-owned vehicles undergo more thorough inspections, inspections don’t always catch everything. You’ll also want to keep in mind if the vehicle has original tires and brakes you’ll likely to replace in the (near) future.

6 Types of People Who Should Buy a Used Car

Next steps

Once you’ve inked the deal and the keys are in-hand you’ll almost be ready to hit the road. Before you take your new ride out for a spin, be sure you have the right coverage in place. Connect with your local Farm Bureau agent to see how customizable coverage can help you protect what matters most to you.