What Is a Certified Used Car?

Used cars are a great option for people who want a higher-end vehicle, but don’t want to pay that higher-end price. A brand new car can lose as much as 20 percent of its value within the first year of ownership alone. That means car buyers can get a vehicle that is just couple years old at a significant savings. But the term “used” comes with a bit of a stigma, with people assuming that a used car is more likely to have problems. Such concerns led to the creation of a new category of vehicle: the certified pre-owned car.

To qualify to be a certified used car, a vehicle can’t be too old and can’t have to many miles – usually no more than five to seven years old with no more than 60,000 to 80,000 miles. Vehicles that fall within that range are given a multi-point inspection and any damage is repaired. Finally, a certified pre-owned car is backed by the original manufacturer and comes with an extended warranty, limited bumper-to-bumper coverage and other services often associated with new car sales. While buying a certified used car will still net you savings over buying new, it is important to note that you may end up paying more than you would for a non-certified vehicle.

Some cars are misleadingly advertised as certified when they are not actually backed by the manufacturer and do not undergo the inspection and repairs that true certified vehicles do. In those cases what may be represented as a warranty is really a service contract entered into with a third party. Often these contracts require customers to pay for repairs upfront and seek reimbursement or, at the least, pay a deductible that can run hundreds of dollars.

If you do opt for a certified pre-owned car, you can rest assured that you’re getting one of the dealer’s best used cars that has been inspected, repaired and is backed by a warranty from the manufacturer.