How to Shop for a CPO Vehicle
By Jakob Hansen, 1/12/2021
Learn what to look for, how to shop, and what the key sticking points are when shopping for a CPO vehicle.
CPO vehicles are getting more and more popular, and with the massive spike in new car leases over the last several years, will only continue to grow. Shopping for CPO vehicles is a mix of both new, and pre-owned car shopping, knowing what to look for is half the battle.
Certified Pre-Owned vehicles are the best possible scenario when it comes to used cars. With the extended warranty, fully-qualified inspection, and known car history you get the peace of mind of a new car but with used car prices.
Picking up a CPO vehicle gives the buyer the opportunity to purchase a used car in confidence, avoiding the infamous “used car horror stories”.
There are a few things to keep in mind when purchasing a CPO vehicle, and knowing what to look out for will ensure you get the best vehicle possible at the best price possible.
Know Who Certified the Vehicle
As we covered in our Top CPO Programs, there are major differences between one CPO program to another.
Knowing the CPO program can make all the difference when determining if the extra cost is worth it.
Some CPO programs are astounding and even include extended bumper-to-bumper warranties. Others aren’t much better than the standard new-car warranty.
Aftermarket or dealer specific CPO vehicles are also a viable option, though are not always as vigorous as some of the factory-backed efforts
Know the Terms Before You Sign
Before signing on the car, know the terms and conditions of the warranty.
Is it an inclusive or exclusive warranty? What items are covered? What items aren’t covered? Is it a bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranty?
All of these questions are vital to each individual warranty, and must be checked before purchasing the vehicle to ensure it is worth the extra cost.
How Does Cost DIffer?
Speaking of cost, what kind of differences can you expect to see when purchasing a CPO?
In comparison to new—drastic savings. CPO vehicles are often priced thousands less than new cars. Best of all, a CPO takes the edge off the massive depreciation hit a new car faces.
In comparison to a similar equipped comparable used car, a CPO vehicle will typically be $2,000-3,000 more. This is where you as the buyer have to do the cost analysis to see if the particular vehicle you are interested in is worth the added cost.
Check the Vehicle History
Most CPO vehicles come with a free vehicle history included with purchase. Check this history!
While the majority of CPOs are accident-free, this doesn’t mean they are incident-free. Small damages, major engine work, and other repairs get noted on the history report.
Any maintenance performed by the dealer or authorized repair technician is also noted on the history report and it’s important to know what services your vehicle has received.
Ask for the Inspection Report
CPO vehicles utilize a stringent inspection procedure and follow a detailed checklist of every part to be inspected.
This report should be available to you, especially when purchasing from the dealer that certified the vehicle in the first place, and you should ask to look it over.
This documentation is detailed on every part that was inspected and more importantly, which were repaired or replaced. Knowing all of the maintenance that was performed on your vehicle of interest is an integral part of your ownership process.
Look Over Available Inventory
After you have decided what the best vehicle for you and your family will be, it’s time to start your search to find the perfect car.
Dealer sites and traditional used car searches aren’t always the easiest to navigate, and often fail to efficiently separate regular used cars from the CPO options you’re looking for.
This is why we developed our Certified Pre-Owned Car Finder. The advanced software is able to sift through dealer inventory and serve you up only the best of the best—CPO inventory.