With new car prices reaching all-time highs, the allure of a late-model used car can be rather tempting. But how do you know what you're getting? Sure, you might save a few thousand dollars on the deal, but will you end up paying it all back in repairs? This scenario has long been the fly in the ointment for used car buyers, but there is a solution that can bring you peace of mind and still save you money in the long run. It's called a certified car, and you can buy one from just about any dealer who also sells new cars. In this four-part series, we answer a few questions about CPO cars and whether one is right for you.

PART 4: IS A CERTIFIED CAR RIGHT FOR YOU?

Should you buy a certified car?

If you're not concerned with the latest options or styling afforded by a new car, the purchase of a certified car over a new or used car makes a lot of sense. If you buy a CPO car that still has its original warranty in place, you'll get it plus the CPO warranty, giving you better coverage than if you bought the car new. A CPO car is a far better bet than a used car with a limited 30-day dealer warranty because if problems arise one or two years down the road, you're not burdened with the additional cost of repairs while you're making a car payment. If you're looking for a used car that still has a large portion of the factory warranty in place, you may not need to consider only CPO cars.

What should you look for in a certified car?

Be sure the car you're looking at meets all of your needs and is within your budget. Once you've found a make and model you desire, try to find one that is as new as possible and with the lowest miles. Buying a late-model CPO car with low miles but near the end of its five- or six-year warranty period won't give you much of an advantage, as your time warranty may expire long before you reach you mileage limit.

How much value does certification add to your car?

Beyond the peace of mind you'll have knowing your car is covered for repairs, the CPO warranty is fully transferable in most cases, meaning you can recoup some of the cost if and when you decide to sell the car.

Can you transfer the certified warranty if you sell the car?

Sometimes. For most manufacturer programs, the CPO warranty acts just like a new car warranty and is fully transferable when you sell the car. Acura, Honda, GM, Toyota, Subaru and Ford all allow the warranty to transfer with ownership while Audi, Lexus, Mitsubishi and Chrysler do not. VW allows transfer for a $150 fee. Be sure to check with your dealer, as plans sometimes change or offer exceptions.

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Joe Tralongo started in the industry writing competitive comparison books for a number of manufacturers, before moving on in 2000 to become a freelance automotive journalist. He's well regarded for his keen eye for detail, as well as his ability to communicate complex mechanical terminology into user-friendly explanations.

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