Difference Between Certified Pre-Owned vs. Regular Used Cars

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Sept. 20, 2023

The decision to purchase a vehicle can be challenging when you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for. Should you opt for a certified pre-owned (CPO) car, or would a regular used car suffice?

Whether you’re a first-time buyer or a seasoned automotive enthusiast, understanding these options is essential for making the right investment.

Keep reading to learn the difference between certified pre-owned and regular used cars, along with their benefits and drawbacks.

What Is a Certified Pre-Owned Car?

A certified pre-owned (CPO car is a used vehicle that has undergone a rigorous inspection and refurbishment process, meeting specific manufacturer or dealer standards to earn the “certified” status. These standards often revolve around the car’s age, mileage, and overall interior and exterior condition.

CPO programs are usually backed by either the vehicle’s manufacturer or an authorized dealership. These entities impose strict guidelines to ensure the quality and reliability of the cars they certify.

Benefits of Certified Pre-Owned Cars

When it comes to buying a car, the decision can be overwhelming. Therefore, considering the benefits is essential for making the right choice in the long term. Certified-pre owned vehicles have gained popularity over the years, so learn more about their advantages below.

  • Warranty coverage and extended warranties: Unlike regular used cars, CPO vehicles usually come with a manufacturer-backed or dealer-certified warranty. This means you’ll have protection against unexpected repairs for a specific period, which ranges from one to several years.
  • Thorough inspection and refurbishment: CPO cars go through a comprehensive evaluation to locate defects or issues in the mechanical and cosmetic aspects. This ensures you purchase a vehicle without problems and don’t face hidden issues down the line.
  • Peace of mind and reduced risk: For many car buyers, peace of mind comes from buying a vehicle that has been fully inspected and refurbished. You can feel more confident knowing there are no risks that could translate into long-term expenses.
  • Potential access to manufacturer incentives and financing: Some manufacturers sweeten the deal for CPO buyers by offering special incentives and financing. These can include lower interest rates on auto loans or cashback offers. In turn, you may find the cost of buying a CPO car is lower.

Drawbacks of Certified Pre-Owned Cars

While certified pre-owned cars come with various long-term benefits, having a balanced perspective is important. Take a look at the disadvantages below to make a more informed decision.

  • Higher initial cost due to extended warranty coverage
  • Limited selection of models and options
  • Certification criteria may vary, so you must research the car

What Are Regular Used Cars?

Regular used cars do not go through a stringent certification process. Instead, they are sold as they are, without the added assurances that come with the CPO status. These cars can be found in independent dealerships, private sellers, and even online marketplaces. You may find regular used cars have more models and makes to offer.

Benefits of Regular Used Cars

Buying a used car has its own set of advantages you should consider, making them a compelling choice for those with a low budget. Check out the benefits of regular used cars below.

  • Lower initial cost: As regular used cars have already experienced some depreciation, you can usually purchase a relatively recent model with a more modest budget.
  • Greater variety of models, makes, and model years: The regular used car market offers an expansive range of choices, meaning you can find vintage classics and budget-friendly daily drivers.
  • Potential for negotiation: You have room to negotiate the price with the private seller or dealership. Unlike CPO cars, which often come with fixed prices, regular used cars offer more flexibility in terms of securing a financial deal that suits the seller and buyer.
  • Lower insurance costs: Insurance premiums for regular used cars are lower because of the reduced risk of theft associated with older cars. Over time, these savings can add up, further reducing the total cost of ownership.

Drawbacks of Regular Used Cars

Regular used cars are perfect for those who have a tight budget, but there are still downsides to consider before making the investment. Keep reading to discover the disadvantages of buying a regular used car.

  • Uncertainty about the vehicle's history report and condition
  • Potential for additional car maintenance and repairs
  • Higher risk due to no warranty or limited warranty coverage

Making the Right Choice Between Certified Pre-Owned vs Regular Used Cars

Now that you’ve explored the pros and cons of each car, you can make a choice based on your goals, needs, and financial budget.

Certified pre-owned cars are a safer option because they shouldn’t cause you any problems in the future. They go through professional inspections from a service department, meaning the car should feel and look almost brand new when you purchase it. However, these cars usually come with a higher upfront cost.

On the other hand, regular used cars are a more affordable option that won’t strain your budget. It just means that there’s more of a risk since these vehicles don’t undergo the same evaluation and refurbishment.

Contact Race Auto Group Today for More Guidance on Buying a Car

Certified pre-owned cars and regular used cars have their unique set of benefits. To make a more informed decision, research the car you want to purchase beforehand to ensure it aligns with your budget, priorities, and driving habits.

Contact Race Auto Group today to gain professional advice on buying a car and managing your budget.