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Overview: What is a certified used car, and why does it make sense to buy one?

Overview: What is a certified used car, and why does it make sense to buy one?

Years ago, there was only one basic choice when buying a car: new or used. Today, though, there is a third option that falls right in between the two. Certified pre-owned vehicles are lightly used and thoroughly inspected, letting savvy shoppers save money by buying a used car that’s in as close to new-car condition as possible.


For many people, buying a used car can be one of their most stressful purchases because — let’s face it — it’s a bit of a gamble.

Private sellers sometimes offer cars with a sketchy history, even if they’re shined up to look beautiful for shoppers. Unless you’re a professional mechanic, it can be hard to tell which ones have been maintained properly and which ones are lemons.

Certified used cars aim to take away this worry in several ways. First, they’re inspected for a long list of defects or malfunctions. Second, any problems that are found get fixed before it goes on the lot. And third, most certified pre-owned vehicle plans offer extended warranties that provide added protection for buyers.

When done right, a certified used car can make the buying process a better experience and provide many years of trouble-free service from a quality vehicle.


While certified used cars are typically priced slightly higher than the non-certified variety because of the cost of doing inspections and repairs, the benefits outweigh the costs for most shoppers.

When you buy a non-certified car, chances are that it’s going to need some repairs soon after the purchase. They could be minor, or they could be very expensive, depending on what you discover after driving the car for a few weeks or months.

By getting a car that’s already been inspected and professionally repaired, you’re saving money and trouble down the road.


  • Who performed the inspection?
  • Who is offering the certification? The dealer or manufacturer?
  • How much of the new-car warranty is remaining?
  • What is the mileage or age limit for the warranty?
  • Does the warranty have a deductible?
  • Do you have a return policy?
  • What service has been done on the car?