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Shopping for a CPO Car? Here’s What You Need to Know

CPORoundup3 jpg illustration by Paul Dolan

The road to owning a new-to-you car can be fraught with potholes. New cars experience depreciation — at least 10 percent in the first month — and used cars can be something of a mystery when it comes to knowing the vehicle’s condition, but there’s another option that gives shoppers almost the same assurances of a new car but without the new-car price: certified pre-owned vehicles.

Related: What Does CPO Mean?

CPO vehicles are typically late-model-year vehicles with manufacturer-backed warranties. Most CPO vehicles are in good condition and have relatively low miles, and many of them are off-lease cars, which means they’ve reached the end of their lease contract. For a charge of about $1,500 on average, a certified technician performs a multipoint inspection of the CPO car and makes any necessary repairs. With CPO vehicles, dealers and automakers typically offer extended powertrain warranties and other benefits, such as roadside assistance and a vehicle history report. A CPO vehicle may come with lower interest financing, as well.

With certified pre-owned cars, you’re paying for peace of mind.

“Shopping for a CPO car is easier than a non-CPO car because the car has already been inspected and a warranty is included,” Philip Reed, a writer at, said in an interview. “You don’t have to take a CPO to a mechanic for an inspection as you would with other used cars.”

Who Does the Certifying?

A “factory” or manufacturer CPO vehicle is certified to the automaker’s standards and licensed dealers pay a fee to get that certification. It’s all in the family, too. A Mercedes-Benz dealer only sells Mercedes CPO vehicles, so there should be quality assurances that the dealer did good work. A dealer-certified car has been inspected by a tech in the dealer’s service center. An independent dealer can offer an extended warranty or a vehicle with a CPO warranty still active from a previous owner. As with all things, check the paperwork.

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Is a CPO Vehicle Worth It?

It depends. You can be sure the CPO vehicle will be less expensive than the new model in the same generation, and more expensive than a used model without certification. And every automaker has different standards when it comes to maximum age and mileage of the car, warranties and even the number of items inspected. Compare CPO program details.

In some cases, the extra cost for a CPO car may not be worth it, especially on a model from a reliable automaker that is relatively new with relatively low miles. Hyundai and Kia models, for example, have the industry’s best powertrain warranty of 10 years or 100,000 miles, but that warranty applies to the original owner only. Many new cars have bumper-to-bumper warranties good for three years and 36 months.

“Anyone considering CPO should check to see if there is a remaining factory warranty that comes with the car for no extra charge,” Reed said.

Just as you would with a new or used car, be sure to visually inspect the vehicle and take it for a test drive. Get the vehicle history for the CPO car and check the vehicle identification number online at

For car shoppers, a CPO vehicle minimizes some of the legwork and certain risks.

“Buying a CPO car allows you to buy a much cheaper car that is still reliable and provides the peace of mind that comes with an extended warranty,” Reed said.’s Editorial department is your source for automotive news and reviews. In line with’s long-standing ethics policy, editors and reviewers don’t accept gifts or free trips from automakers. The Editorial department is independent of’s advertising, sales and sponsored content departments.

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