Should I Buy a Certified Pre-Owned or Used Car, Truck, or SUV?

Woman Buying a Car

Instant Quote

Certified Pre-Owned Vehicles

Years ago, the idea of “Certified” or “Certified Pre-Owned” vehicles started to take off. Originally developed by luxury carmakers to denote vehicles designated as the ‘best-used vehicles in top conditioned, it soon became popular across the entire industry.

Part of the reason it has become so popular is that it’s a great marketing tool. It projects an air of superiority; it’s a great selling point! It sounds much more official and appealing – even saying it aloud sounds better.

That being said, CPO vehicles aren’t necessarily better. In fact, sometimes the only difference between one and the other is a matter of a few thousand miles or a slightly better warranty – and it often comes at the expense of a higher price tag. So what are the comparison points between CPO programs and used vehicles? Should you always look for a Certified Pre-Owned vehicle? Or is a used car just as good as a Certified Pre-Owned car?

Getting the Best of the Best

Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) programs generally only accept low-mileage, late-model vehicles into their programs. Some exotics and luxury vehicles have extended ranges, but that’s due to the vehicles’ exclusivity and the guarantee of high-quality maintenance. They can only be maintained by shops with specialized OEM equipment and parts. For the most part, a Certified Pre-Owned vehicle will be five or six years old and have no more than 60,000-80,000 miles on it. This ensures that they are in great shape, with minimal wear and tear. It provides great peace of mind to the driver, making it easier to turn around for the dealer!

A Used car, truck, or SUV has no limitations or standards regarding mileage or age. Used is used. A used car from an independent dealer may have lower mileage or be newer than a Certified Pre-Owned – it might just have been more convenient for the previous owner to offload it to the independent dealer. The independent dealer may also bring in lightly-used vehicles from auto auctions that it can’t sell as Certified Pre-Owned but would be sold as such if a dealer was selling it – it’s merely a matter of the independent lot. Not being allowed to call it a ‘Certified Pre-Owned.’

Thorough Inspections

Certified Pre-Owned vehicles undergo in-depth inspection by the dealer specializing in making vehicles. Depending on the maker, they generally run from 100-point inspections to 160-point inspections. Sounds fancy and thorough, right?

Unless you’re getting a luxury or exotic vehicle, that inspection is likely not as thorough as one from an independent lot or a non-certified model at a dealership. A dealer doesn’t have a different inspection process for a 5-year-old vehicle that meets CPO mileage requirements and for one that goes just over that mileage cap. Similarly, dealers can only sell CPO vehicles from the manufacturer they represent. So you may find CPO-quality vehicles on their lot that are merely listed as used because they are from a different manufacturer.

The Used vehicle at an independent lot may even have received a more thorough inspection in some instances. Sometimes these dealers will use a disinterested third-party inspector for objectivity – someone who may catch more issues than either the dealer or the manufacturer because they aren’t worried about the repair cost or resale potential. Sometimes they’ll pay a dealer to inspect them. While a CPO guarantees a dealer inspection, it doesn’t necessarily mean the inspection will be better or more thorough.

Ongoing Warranty

Certified Pre-Owned vehicles generally carry the remainder of their factory-backed warranties for drivetrain and internal components. More than a few even continue the full Manufacturer’s New Vehicle warranty to the end of the service period. Since CPO vehicles are bought through dealers, there is almost always the opportunity for an extended factory-backed warranty.

For used cars, trucks, and SUVs, you will usually get the remainder of the warranty coverage that comes with the vehicle. After all, a 7-year, 100,000-mile warranty isn’t driver-dependent. It warrants the vehicle, not the driver. That being said, your options for an extended warranty are limited to used cars. You won’t get a manufacturer-backed extension. You won’t get any special CPO warranties. At best, you may get the manufacturer’s used vehicle warranty or a third-party warranty, both of which are generally quite limited in the scope of coverage.

Extra Perks

One of the reasons you’ll pay more for a Certified Pre-Owned vehicle from a dealership is that they almost always come with perks. This might include 24-hour roadside assistance or an introductory satellite radio package to try free for three months. It may include rental car reimbursement for one-day repairs covered under warranty, free loaner vehicle usage from the dealer, breakdown per diems or reimbursements, and even free scheduled maintenance visits!

Used cars from manufacturer dealerships and independent dealers carry few perks, if any. If you’re lucky, you might get a free oil change after 5,000 miles or something similar, but you won’t be getting any massive additional values.


When it comes to buying a used vehicle, independent owners and car lots have no oversight. The manufacturer isn’t training them, grading them, or following up on their processes. You’re just trusting they are doing the best job possible. Even though the work and vehicle inspections are done in-house, a dealership with a CPO program is trained by and regularly inspected by factory personnel to ensure compliance and up-to-date training and processes. This means an extra set of eyes and an extra layer of protection, ensuring that a Certified Pre-Owned vehicle is the best available vehicle.

Finding the Right Certified Pre-owned or Used Vehicle and Getting Transported!

Whether you want a Certified Pre-Owned or a Used vehicle, you don’t have to be constrained by what’s available locally. Number 1 Auto Transport works with independent dealers and manufacturer dealerships to get the right vehicle to you. At Number 1 Auto Transport, you can find the Certified or Used vehicle of your dreams hundreds of miles away and have the peace of mind knowing that we’ll bring it to you or the dealership you are working through in top condition! We help open up all sorts of possibilities for your next car, truck, or SUV purchase of a Certified Pre-Owned or Used vehicle!

Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide if Certified Pre-Owned or Used is the best option. With no real standard for comparison, it will be a case-by-case basis. You may find a great used vehicle priced well, or you may find peace of mind with a CPO as the option you want! Either way, Number 1 Auto Transport is here to work with you, your independent or manufacturer dealer, or the private party you’re buying a used vehicle from to ensure the car, truck, or SUV of choice makes it safely where it is going.

Have Questions or Need a Car Shipping Quote?

Number 1 Auto Transport is an auto transport service company specializing in transporting all vehicles door to door. We offer the highest quality customer service at the most reasonable and honest rates. Please email us or call 855-422-4141 for a FREE  CAR SHIPPING QUOTE to ship your car.

We look forward to giving you quick answers to any questions you may have!