One of the fastest growing parts of the used-car market is the “certified pre-owned” car.
These heavily advertised programs are typically offered by a new-car dealer when selling their own used models. A BMW dealership, for example, may offer a selection of “certified” used BMWs that have been thoroughly inspected for defects.
Are these top-notch cars worth the premium dealers charge for them, though?
Every used-car certification program is different. You want to find out who performed the inspection and what extras come with it, such as low-interest financing or an extended warranty.
There are generally three types of inspections offered.
The first, factory inspections, are performed by the vehicle manufacturer — the company that actually built the car. The second type, dealer inspections, are performed by the in-house mechanics at the car dealership. And the third, independent inspections, are performed by third-party companies that inspect used cars and certify the best ones.
WARRANTY AND FINANCING
Finally, compare the fine print to see what differences a certified pre-owned car has compared with a non-certified one in the same condition.
Typically certified cars will come with longer warranties and better financing terms than non-certified cars. If you shop around, you may find that you’re actually getting a better deal when you buy a certified pre-owned car.
Likewise, you can and should get the vehicle inspected by your own independent mechanic before buying it, so shop around and see if you can find better deals elsewhere.
The goal of every certification program is to give the buyer peace of mind. You should pick the car that gives you confidence, both in terms of reliability and price, and the best certification programs will do that.