Certified Preowned VS Used: What's The Real Difference?

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Are you in the market for a new to you car? If so, you should definitely consider purchasing a used vehicle.

The preowned vehicles on the lot at your local dealership are in better shape than you’d think! Most of them don’t have many miles on the odometer. And they’ve all been through an extensive vehicle service process that gets them as close to new as possible.

This is especially true of certified preowned vehicles, also called CPO vehicles. How are CPO cars different from other preowned vehicles? And how do you decide between certified preowned vs used vehicles?

We’ve got all the information you need to help you make an informed decision about your used vehicle purchase.

Where do Dealerships Get Their Used Vehicles?

Most car dealerships have a wide selection of brand-new vehicles that are sent to them from the manufacturer and a wide selection of used vehicles. Where do these used vehicles come from? For the most part, the dealerships get these cars two ways.

The first way that dealerships get used vehicles is from trade-ins. The majority of the time when a person is buying a new car, they want to trade in their current car, so they can get credit toward the purchase of their new car. The amount of credit they for their trade-in depends on the age of the car, the condition of the car, the mileage on the odometer, and the make and model of the car.

Dealerships generally don’t accept trade-ins that are in poor condition, but they do take cars in a wide range of conditions. This does not mean that the car is in bad condition by the time it gets to the sales lot. Each dealership has a rigorous service process that every trade-in goes through before it’s ready for sale. This ensures that the trade-in is as close to new as possible by the time it gets to the sales lot.

The other way dealerships get preowned vehicles is by purchasing them at auctions. These auctions are only open to car dealers and the inventory sold at them varies widely. Again, dealerships usually don’t purchase anything at auction that’s in poor condition. But no matter what condition the vehicle is in when it’s bought at auction, it goes through the same rigorous service process before it gets to the sales lot.

So, though all preowned vehicles have been driven by previous owners and seen their fair share of road time, they’re all rehabilitated to almost new condition before they’re put on the sales lot.

What’s a Certified Preowned Car?

Each dealership has its own service process that they put every used vehicle through to ensure it’s ready for sale. Some dealerships may perform services that others don’t during this process. There isn’t a standard service process that ensures all preowned vehicles have received the same level of rehabilitation from dealership to dealership.

However, there is a standardized service process for certified preowned vehicles. This standardized process is determined by the manufacturer. In order for the car to be sold as a certified preowned vehicle, the dealership must prove that it has adhered to the manufacturer set service process before they list the vehicle for sale.

The service process determined by each manufacturer is very thorough. Some dealerships perform all the same services on all their preowned vehicles, but some do not. So, the certified preowned vehicle service process ensures that all vehicles sold as CPO vehicles have been through a thorough, standardized service process.

To qualify for certified preowned status, the used car must also be late-model, which means it was made within the past few years. Most certified preowned programs also require that the car be lower mileage, though the exact mileage varies for each certified preowned program.

Certified preowned vehicles often come with a manufacturer extended warranty plan as well. This extended warranty may be better than the one the dealership offers on their other used cars, so you get more security and peace of mind going with the CPO vehicle.

Because they’re newer, lower mileage, and undergo an extensive service process, CPO vehicles are more expensive than regular used vehicles. But the higher price tag is definitely worth it. The quality and reliability of certified preowned vehicles make them worth the extra money.

Certified Preowned vs Used: Which is Best for You?

Choosing between a certified preowned vehicle and a used vehicle all comes down to what’s most important to you. Any used vehicle sold by a reputable car dealership will be a great purchase. But there are definitely a few reasons that might lead you to choose certified preowned over used or vice versa.

The number one reason to choose certified preowned over used is the peace of mind that comes with knowing the vehicle has gone through a manufacturer-approved service process. Other reasons you might choose a certified preowned vehicle are the model year and the mileage. If you’re looking for a newer used vehicle with low mileage, you’re more likely to find a certified preowned vehicle that meets your requirements than you are to find a used one that meets your requirements.

But if price is the determining factor in your used vehicle search, you’ll probably want to choose a used car instead of a certified preowned car. Used cars are almost always more affordable than CPO cars.

If you’re on a tight budget, you’ll probably have to settle for something a little older, with a few more miles. But that doesn’t mean you’ll have to sacrifice quality. Remember, all dealerships rehabilitate used vehicles before putting them on the sales lot. So, even if you’re compromising a bit on age and mileage, you can still be sure you’re getting a reliable car.

Check Out Our Inventory

Still not quite sure about certified preowned vs used? Sometimes it all comes down to which vehicles are on the lot. You’ll never know for sure until you see the right car for you.

Head over to our Used Cars page and see what we have on the lot today. Your dream preowned vehicle is waiting!

Categories: Pre-Owned Inventory