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Is Now the Time to Buy a Certified Pre-Owned Car?

If you’ve been pondering buying a certified pre-owned (CPO) or used car, now may be a good time, particularly if you’re considering a Honda, Acura, or Ford.

The opportunity to buy an older Honda or Acura with factory-backed warranty protection just improved for vehicles up to 10 years old under new certified pre-owned programs with both carmakers. Ford launched its own similar program in early 2021.

A year earlier, Ford beat Honda and Acura to the punch, broadening its CPO program. It not only includes up to 10-year-old Ford models but also qualifying models of any make.

This extra factory-backed protection can help ease the minds of consumers looking for more affordable older vehicle options. Skyrocketing prices of new vehicles pushed buyers to consider more affordable used cars, including models five years or older.

Read on to find out what protection you can expect and the types of warranty coverage that go along with these programs before buying a certified pre-owned vehicle.

What are Certified Pre-Owned Cars?

Certified pre-owned cars are the best-of-the-best used models on a franchised dealer’s used car lot. Each vehicle must pass an intensive inspection by a factory-trained technician. Those specialists use factory parts to replace or repair any defective components.

Automakers stand behind these vehicles with additional limited warranty protection beyond any of the original new car warranty that might remain. The brand usually sweetens the deal with other CPO benefits like special financing, 24/7 roadside assistance, a free vehicle history report, and some free scheduled maintenance.

These are all benefits and protections not provided on regular used cars. Potential buyers should compare CPO programs because automakers’ inspections and benefits vary.

RELATED STORIES: What is a Certified Pre-Owned Car?

HondaTrue Used Program

Buying a used car is always a roll of the dice. There are few guarantees. Even if the seller acts with honest intentions, there is no way to anticipate hidden problems. CPO, in essence, provides some warranty protection against many of those unforeseen repairs.

For the most part, a manufacturer reserves its CPO program for lightly used, later-model branded vehicles with a limited number of miles on the odometer. Up to its launch of HondaTrue Used, Honda’s two-tiered CPO program (HondaTrue Certified) extended to Honda models no more than five years old with less than 80,000 miles on the odometer. HondaTrue Used pushes the age to no more than 10 years and the mileage qualifier to unlimited mileage. So, any 10-year-old Honda model could qualify for this tier.

Models covered under HondaTrue Used don’t have the same warranty protection as HondaTrue Certified because its qualification rules are less strict. Still, every HondaTrue Used model must pass an extensive inspection by a factory-certified technician. Moreover, it must also have a clean vehicle history report free of accidents. Shoppers may download a copy of the completed 112-point checklist and see its history report before purchase.

Every vehicle Honda accepted into HondaTrue Used receives a factory-backed powertrain and non-powertrain warranty good for 100 days or 5,000 miles (whichever comes first). The warranties don’t cover every component but do include major systems. The Honda Certified Pre-Owned Warranty Booklet outlines what is covered.

Added-Value Benefits

Although not as extensive as the perks for HondaTrue Certified models, HondaTrue Used offers some added-value benefits to sweeten the deal. They include 24/7 roadside assistance during the HondaTrue Used powertrain warranty. One complimentary oil change during the first year of ownership is another benefit. For the duration of the powertrain warranty, buyers also get limited trip-interruption reimbursement, concierge service, and free satellite-radio service for 90 days. Buyers have up to three days or 300 miles to trade in any Honda CPO vehicle for another CPO vehicle.

Acura Precision Used

Acura Precision Used is similar to Honda’s new program. However, it reflects Acura’s upgraded Precision Certified program. There are significant differences:

  • The length of the non-powertrain and powertrain warranty coverage increases to six months or 7,500 miles.
  • 24/7 roadside assistance is for one year or 12,000 miles.
  • Buyers have up to seven days or 300 miles to exchange an Acura CPO model for another CPO vehicle.

Ford Blue Advantage

In 2021, Ford put a different twist on its CPO program when it initiated its Ford Blue Advantage (FBA) to complement its existing program. Ford now calls the original program Ford Gold Advantage. FBA is for Ford models that didn’t make the cut for Gold Advantage. The new program expands eligibility to Ford vehicles up to 10 years old. However, it puts a mileage cap of 120,000 miles on cars to qualify.

Ford is doing something differently than Honda and Acura. FBA is open to models from any brand on its dealers’ used lots that qualify. The vehicle must meet the FBA age and mileage requirements and pass the 139-point inspection by a certified technician. Whether Ford or another brand’s models, qualifying vehicles receive a Ford-backed 90-day or 4,000-mile limited warranty. Ford requires a $100 deductible for each warranty repair.

FBA includes 24/7 roadside assistance for up to seven years or 100,000 miles from the original purchase date when new. It also provides a 14-day or 1,000-mile money-back guarantee. Moreover, FBA buyers receive entry into FordPass Rewards with 11,000 complimentary points. These are redeemable toward non-covered warranty repairs, routine maintenance, and the purchase of Ford products.

Porsche Approved

There is nothing new in the Porsche Approved CPO program. However, the current program is worth mentioning because it includes Porsche models up to 13 years old. That’s right. The CPO warranty for Porsche models still covered by the original new-car warranty kicks in when the original 4-years or 50,000-mile warranty expires. The program gives a 2-year, unlimited mileage warranty beginning on the sale date for Porsche CPO models with expired new-car warranties. The CPO warranty covers the powertrain, suspension, steering, brake system, electrical system, and more.

Perks include 24/7 roadside assistance and no deductible for covered repairs.

Who Else?

Although the list of CPO programs offering a degree of factory protection for older model-year vehicles is short, we expect more carmakers to follow suit.

Related Pre-Owned Cars Stories:


Can you lease a certified pre-owned car?

Yes. In fact, many carmakers even offer special CPO leasing programs through their captive lending divisions. For example, Ford Motor Credit, American Honda Finance, and so forth.

How much can you negotiate off a certified pre-owned car?

As with any new or used car, you can negotiate a lower selling price for a CPO vehicle. However, several current conditions like the microchip shortage have conspired to shrink new- and used-car inventories. These days, many dealers aren’t eager to make deals.

What Is a Certified Pre-Owned Car?

To qualify as CPO, a vehicle must be a fairly recent model year with a limited number of miles on the odometer. Such cars then must pass an intense multi-point inspection. Any issues turned up during the inspection are solved by repairing or replacing the part. The factory provides some limited warranty protection to CPO vehicles. Often the factory also provides some special CPO perks like 24/7 roadside assistance and special financing and leasing rates.

Russ Heaps
Russ Heaps
Russ Heaps is an author specializing in automotive, financial and travel news. For nearly 35 years he has covered the automotive industry for newspapers, magazines and internet websites. His resume includes The Palm Beach Post, Miami Herald, The Washington Times and numerous other daily newspapers through syndication. He edited Auto World magazine, and helped create and edit NOPI Street... Read More about Russ Heaps

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