Like most automakers, Ford operates a Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) program in which late-model cars are reconditioned, given extended warranties, and sold at considerable discounts relative to new cars. Here's a closer look at Ford's CPO standards.

First of all, Ford's screening procedure shows that rigorous inspections aren't just the province of luxury brands. Every CPO Ford is subjected to a 172-point inspection, and cars that don't pass every point are barred from the CPO pool. In case the number "172" isn't that meaningful to you, we'll put it another way: in order for a used Ford vehicle to make the CPO roster, virtually every part of the vehicle is scrutinized, and every feature must be fully functional. The vehicle must also pass a road test in which any unusual behavior is flagged for repair by the technician.

Ford also provides CPO buyers with a full vehicle-history report and two warranties: 12 month/12,000-mile comprehensive coverage from the date of sale, and 7 year/100,000-mile powertrain coverage from when the car was new. The warranty includes 24-hour roadside assistance with financial support for worst-case scenarios, e.g. $30 per day for a rental car for up to five days. Note that repairs performed under the CPO warranty are subject to a standard $100 deductible per job.

CPO programs are a great way to get into a like-new vehicle for less, and Ford's program is fully competitive, enabling you to buy used with confidence.

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Josh Sadlier is an automotive journalist based in Los Angeles and has contributed to such publications as Edmunds.com and DriverSide.com. He holds arguably the most unexpected degree in his profession: a master's in Theological Studies.

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