Comparing CPO Warranties

How do certified pre-owned warranty terms and conditions differ? What should you look out for if you're interested in buying a certified car?

One of the major reasons for buying a certified pre-owned car is to get the warranty that comes along with it, yet those warranties differ among automakers and the terms can be confusing.

Some automakers offer what's left of the original new-car powertrain warranty on their factory-certified used vehicles, while adding short-term bumper-to-bumper coverage. Other automakers won't transfer the original warranties, but instead offer new bumper-to-bumper coverage. Most automakers offer roadside assistance, but the duration varies from automaker to automaker. Check the automaker's website for details, and make sure you get warranty information in writing. You may need it someday.

Make sure you're clear on whether the car is a manufacturer-certified vehicle or a dealer-certified one. The former can be repaired at any like-brand dealership anywhere in the country. If it's dealer-certified, you may have to return to the dealership where the car was purchased to get any needed work done.

Some final words of warning: When you buy a factory-certified car, don't get talked into purchasing an extended warranty.

And remember, when it comes to buying a factory-certified pre-owned vehicle, you can still negotiate on price.

While a factory-backed warranty is a plus that makes factory-certified used cars an attractive proposition, experts say that certified factory-backed warranty programs have at least one shortcoming: the lack of federal standards on which parts and systems are covered by a warranty.

By Jim Mateja for

Last updated on 06/18/2013