Certified Pre-Owned versus Used Cars: What’s the Difference?

When in the market for a vehicle, many people limit their search to new cars. There’s a certain stigma out there that new cars are simply better than used ones, and used cars often can’t be trusted. After all, how do you know if the car is in the same condition promised by the seller? How do you know if there are any hidden issues with the car’s engine or other interior components? In reality, a used car can be just as reliable as a new one—if you know the difference between a used car and a certified pre-owned car. Keep reading to learn more.

Trust in the Car’s Condition

One of the biggest concerns used-car buyers have is feeling confident that the vehicle is in good condition. A certified pre-owned (or CPO) car isn’t just a euphemism for “used.” It’s actually a special designation only give to cars that meet certain requirements. Almost every car manufacturer out there has its own CPO program, with rigid standards a car must meet in order to be certified. Typically, CPO cars must be well-maintained, gently used, accident-free, and have low mileage to receive a CPO designation. They’re also usually only a few years old.

This means that if you see a car with “certified pre-owned” in the window, you know the car has been rigorously inspected and is found to be in good, reliable condition. This can give you peace of mind when buying a car that’s had a previous owner.

Peace of Mind from a Warranty

Of course, even cars in good condition can have things go wrong. A car might pass an inspection, only to have a part malfunction a couple of months after it leaves the used car dealer’s lot. This is another big concern for used-car buyers and a common reason people buy from new car dealers; new cars always come with a warranty. Warranties offer peace of mind that, if something goes awry, the dealership will cover the cost of repairs.

Obviously, you won’t get a warranty if you’re buying a used car off a private listing. And, in some cases, used cars from a lot won’t have a warranty either. However, CPO cars are always backed by a warranty—often from both the dealer and the manufacturer.

Paying for Confidence in Your Car

Yes, you will pay more for a CPO than for a used car. However, because CPO cars are usually in better condition, have been carefully inspected, and come with a warranty, the slightly higher price tag is often well worth the confidence this designation can provide in your ride. And when you’re buying a luxury car, like a used Mercedes in Houston, buying a CPO will still save you significantly over buying from a new car lot.


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