The number of certified pre-owned (CPO) vehicles sold this year is expected to increase significantly from 1.7 million purchased in 2008. Besides costing less than new-car counterparts, certified vehicles also come with many of the same benefits, eliminating much of the guesswork associated with buying used.
Some say it is one of the few segments of the auto market where both sales and value to the buyer have increased. Be wary, however, because not all certification programs are created equal. To help sort out the best from the worthless, used-car experts offer the following tips:
Certified By Whom?
Make sure you know who sets the standards for the certification program and who makes certain they're being enforced. Look for a manufacturer-backed program--the best people to certify a car are the ones who built it and specialize in that make. Most manufacturers will offer a limited warranty in addition to honoring the car's original warranty.
Do Your Homework.
Research the models that make sense for your driving needs. Check safety and reliability reports published online and prices from your whole area.
How Was The Car Certified?
At a minimum, a car should have a detailed mechanical inspection and vehicle history reports. Carfax Vehicle History Reports are a mandatory part of the certification process for more than 80 percent of today's manufacturer-certified programs.
What Does It Get You?
The certified used car you're buying probably comes with an extended warranty. Make sure you know exactly what this covers and for how long. You can always add additional coverage.
Ask For More.
If you want roadside assistance, options added to the car, free oil changes or anything else, don't be afraid to ask.
For more information or to order a report, go to www.carfax.com.