You’re in the market for a used car. You’ve done your research, kicked some tires and, lo and behold, the dealer up the street has exactly the car you want. It’s a certified pre-owned car, meaning it’s sold through a licensed new-car dealer, has been thoroughly inspected and carries an automaker-backed warranty with a history report. Now might be the perfect time to go that route.
Last year was a record year for CPO sales, and with tons of off-lease vehicles returning to dealers, this year and next are poised to be even better. Perhaps more important, Automotive News says used-vehicle prices have fallen for the eighth straight month. It also says a recent study shows dealerships could actually get away with charging more for their CPO vehicles than they have been. You might want to jump on board before they figure that out.
“A CPO car costs $1,500-$1,600 more than your standard used car,” said Dave Frazier, pre-owned sales manager at Genesis Cadillac in St. Clair Shores, Michigan. “It’s well worth it, though. The cars come in off of a two- or three-year lease. They’re in fantastic shape, or we don’t consider them for CPO. Some still have some miles and time left on the original new-car warranty, and the CPO warranty adds to that. So you’re getting a near-new car without a typical used car’s guesswork.
“CPO is a big part of our business — and getting bigger. We market it aggressively and we get lots of out-of-town — even out-of-state — customers.”
Cadillac’s inspection covers 172 items: Yes, 172! Some are things you’d expect: filters, wheels and tires, interior and exterior condition … you get the picture. Cadillac dealers dig deep, though, also measuring panel gaps, making sure every last interior light works and verifying that each and every speaker is performing as new. Some automakers are even more thorough. For example, Audi looks at 300-plus items, Lincoln 200 and Acura 182.
CPO programs are definitely here to stay. The programs are buyer-friendly and the cars promise to be reliable. CPO’s rising success is due, in part, to taking much of the worry out of buying a used car. If you want to save money and want a near-new car with a solid warranty, CPO might be your route.
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