Certified Preowned Vs. Used


When buying a new car, the choices are insanely vast.  Whether you want an SUV or a sedan, your choices are just immense.

But there’s a bit of confusion regarding a “Certified Preowned Vs. Used” debate.

On the surface, the words “Certified Preowned” kind of constitute thoughts of high-price.

On the other hand, “Used” can do the opposite.  Maybe a used car sounds beaten up and prone to repair?

I’m happy I get to write about this subject right now.  The timing couldn’t be better.

I just recently bought a new (to me) car, so I can finally speak from experience with this sort of thing.

The choices are difficult to the say the least and with most things that require this sort of scrutiny, there are a lot of angles you can approach it from.  The answers are different for pretty much everyone.

Your Situation:

Certified preowned vs. Used can be a hard decision.  So the first crucial step is to analyze your personal situation.

One big factor for your decision is what your financial goals are.  Are you looking to purchase a car outright with cash?  Or are you looking to finance a car for a set term?

When purchasing a car with cash outright, it’s important to know YOU have the power in the deal.  A lot of times you can get a better deal when showing up with straight cash.

Certified preowned cars are generally more desirable than used cars.  That means they’re generally more expensive.

CPO cars, in most cases, also come with some sort of extended warranty on top of the factory warranty from new and are inspected with greater scrutiny.

If you’re in a position where you can purchase a CPO car with straight cash and it’s the car you’re looking for, you’re in the perfect situation.

You can have peace of mind and the perfect situation financially both in the long run and initially when you have power over the deal.

But again, these things are mutli-variable equations.  Car buying decisions, that is.


So if you’re in the situation where the car you want is a CPO and you don’t have the cash to buy, you might be looking at financing the deal.

More variables come into play here, including your credit playing a bigger factor in this decision.

If your credit is great, then you can get some great interests rates on a CPO car.  Sometimes as low as 1%.

Financing is pretty much spreading out the sale price of the car over a certain term (36 – 72 months usually) minus the down payment.

The math is much more simple with financing versus leasing a new car, but that’s for another time.

Financing a CPO is pretty straightforward and a similar process to getting financing for a used car.

CPO Cars Continued:

Basically, if you can afford a CPO car, go for it.  Cash payment over financing, but financing can sometimes get you a better rate.  It’s a case by case thing.

Usually getting a CPO car is something you do if you’re using the car as a daily driver.  Sometimes in the exotic car business, a CPO car is just better regardless if you’re driving it daily or not.

CPO exotic cars are desirable for the same reasons cheaper CPO cars are.  They safer, generally more reliable and carry nice peace of mind.  Plus if you’re selling a car, having that CPO tag on it can get you some more money.

Used Cars:

Used cars

The used car market is obviously much larger than the CPO market.  Most preowned cars sold are used without the certification angle, for a plethora of reasons.

Now, is a used car for you?

Most often it depends on your budget.

On the lower end if you have $1,000 to $10,000 to spend on a car to use every day, your certified preowned car options are going to be very slim if any.

This is where you’ll probably be looking for a straight up and down used car.

For CPO cars are most often offered from dealerships because of their nature.  Used cars are much more offered in various places like private sellers.

The nature of used cars means that there are a lot more hit and miss examples out there.

You can find much better deals on these kinds of cars, but my strong advice is to have some money on hand in case things go wrong if you don’t have a CPO warranty or buy a warranty to go with the car from a dealer.

Used cars are usually cheaper than CPO cars since you’ll need to front the repair costs.  If you plan properly and have a fund set aside for repairs, you’ll be in good shape.

Even better is to get the car inspected before purchase.  This is called a P.P.I.  (Pre-purchase inspection).

As long as those bases are covered, you’re usually in good shape.

What I did:

I do hope outlining what I went through can shed some light on what you might be going through on the whole certified preowned vs. used debate.

My lease on the car I had was coming due in a couple months and so I began my search to replace it.

Naturally when in this situation, you want more car for less money.  And that’s exactly what I was going for.

I originally wanted to go the leasing route again, as the ease of ownership is just ideal.  Everything is covered under warranty, payments are generally low and you get to turn the car back in after the pre-prescribed term.

Issues with leasing that I wasn’t a fan of was the limit on miles, the turn-in criteria and that was pretty much it.

But in my situation, leasing a better car would mean paying much more than I was.  And being as stubborn about what I drive as I am, I had to find a different route.

I looked into various CPO cars and used cars.

I narrowed down the options over time and it really came into one CPO car and one used car.  Different makes, but both what I was looking for.

The golden egg was that the  both of them had some awesome options that I would not be able to get on a leased car for the same price.

The plus side of the CPO car was that the car had an extended powertrain warranty and went through a massive inspection before sale.

The plus side of the used car was the immense options it had, the recent year it was built, relatively low miles.

I ended up going home with the used car.  I got a warranty for service with the car as well.  This was because the options on the car and it was just a great deal I couldn’t pass up!

Sum It Up:

In a perfectly set up world, go for the CPO car.  But the answer isn’t that simple.

The answer changes for everyone.  It’s mainly dependent on your financial situation if you don’t go through the leasing option.

If the car you’re looking for, for the purpose you’re looking for (track, daily driver, etc.) is a CPO car and you can pay cash, go for it.

Do your research.  Know your financial situation and do what you know is best for you.


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