Car Buying

Do You Have to Take a CPO Car to the Dealer For Service?

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author photo by Doug DeMuro November 2014

For many shoppers, a certified pre-owned (CPO) vehicle is a good halfway point between an expensive new car and a potentially troublesome used one. A CPO vehicle is typically less expensive than a new vehicle but is offered with a long manufacturer-backed warranty, unlike many used cars. If you buy a certified pre-owned car, do you have to get it serviced at the dealer? We got to the bottom of this commonly asked question.

Short Answer: Yes

In general, we recommend that you keep up with regular maintenance, such as oil and fluid changes, at the dealer, rather than at an independent mechanic or another shop. There's a reason for this: If you make sure to do your maintenance at the dealer, then the automaker won't have any possible way to deny a claim if a more important part breaks down the line.

As an example of what we mean, consider your car's transmission, which typically requires occasional fluid changes. If you visit the dealer to complete the fluid changes and your transmission eventually breaks under warranty, the automaker will likely cover the replacement with no questions asked. However, if you've done the fluid changes yourself -- or at an independent shop -- the automaker might question whether they've been done properly. The result is that you may find yourself in a situation where your transmission replacement isn't covered under warranty.

Depends on the Situation

With that said, some automakers are more lenient than others. Some automakers may accept receipts from independent shops as proof that regular maintenance has been performed, for example, but others may not. To us, spending a little extra at the dealer for oil changes and other regular maintenance is cheap insurance against eventually dealing with a larger problem.

Still, we don't think it's necessary to visit the dealer for every single service. For example, a flat tire can still be patched or plugged at your local mechanic's shop. You can also still buy a new battery from your local auto parts store, and put it in yourself -- or have a friend or trusted mechanic do it. If you're looking to save a little money, you can still buy new tires without visiting the dealer.

For most maintenance items, we'd make sure to stick to visiting your dealer, at least until your CPO warranty runs out and your car's major components are no longer covered under warranty.

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Do You Have to Take a CPO Car to the Dealer For Service? - Autotrader