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Types of plans: Manufacturer vs. dealer, luxury vs. standard

Types of plans: Manufacturer vs. dealer, luxury vs. standard

Every certified used-car program is different. Mileage and age limits, the complexity of the inspection and the length and type of additional warranty will all vary, so it’s important to shop around for the program that best fits your needs as a car buyer.


One of the most important distinctions is whether the certification is provided by the manufacturer or the dealer.

Anybody who sells a car can put the word “certified” on it and hope to fetch a higher price, which is one reason car experts generally recommend looking for manufacturer certification programs.

When certified by a manufacturer, not only is the inspection done by a trained, in-house expert, but it should be consistently applied across the United States. The manufacturers use quality control measures to make sure the certification is done right, because their warranty coverage and national reputation are riding on it.

Dealerships can also offer their own certification programs, but their quality and reputation will vary widely from dealer to dealer. Some are better than others, and warranties will typically be provided by third-party companies rather than the manufacturer warranties like new cars come with.


Certified used car programs were started by luxury car brands, beginning with Mercedes-Benz in 1989. By the 1990s, as more buyers saw the benefits of buying certified cars, nearly every luxury car company offered a certified pre-owned program.

Today, the benefits of certification have been expanded even further. Every major automotive company offers some type of certified used-car program, even for budget brands.

Look closely at what each company offers and what perks, such as roadside assistance or bumper-to-bumper warranties, are available.

Buying certified luxury cars remains a popular option today, and it’s a trend that seems to be growing with each passing year. It makes sense for many luxury buyers because of how expensive premium cars can be to repair.