Let me preface this article by sharing my personal belief that anyone considering a used car should include Certified Pre Owned cars in their decision-making process. You can disagree, but let me break it to you gently. You’re wrong. Sure, your final decision is a personal one and should reflect your preferences and the unique demands of your lifestyle, but let me be clear. In any used car search a Certified Pre Owned vehicle is worth considering.

It boils down to this: a CPO vehicle will be newer, and will carry less mileage. It will have passed a thorough inspection to confirm that it meets factory standards for most major systems. Any issues will have been refurbished with manufacturer-approved parts. The car buyer will receive extended warranties and a number of additional perks. Sure, they’ll pay a little more than they would for a non-certified counterpart, but what’s the alternative? Paying more down the line for repair needs that could have been detected earlier? Seriously, you’re already planning to buy a used car…what’s your peace of mind worth? That said…Caveat Emptor!

(I’ll pause to give people who took high school Latin the chance to high-five themselves. Way to retain something other than bong resin…are we done? Good.) 

“Buyer Beware” is a phrase that most consumers have heard at some point or another. Anyone who claims that they haven’t was probably distracted by the AB-BLASTER 5000 that they ordered between Maury Povich paternity results. Even if I said it again, I’d be willing to bet that they’d be too busy wondering why they still don’t have “the lean ripped-six pack that they’ve always wanted” to actually listen.

Bottom line, you need to be careful. You need to be informed. And “Certified” may not mean everything that you think it does. After all, there is a difference between a “Certified Pre-Owned” vehicle that meets manufacturer standards, and a “Dealer Certified” vehicle, which offers no such assurance.

I believe that Brian Dennehy said it best in the Chris Farley movie Tommy Boy.

That’s right, Tommy Boy. (Note: As of this moment readers will inevitably fall into two categories: those who have seen Tommy Boy and those who should probably go watch it…) 

In the movie, Brian Dennehy plays the owner of a brake pad manufacturer, whose incompetent son (played by Chris Farley) is joining the family company. When Dennehy’s character is asked why he doesn’t include a written guarantee on the box for his brake pads, he replies “I can get a good look at a T-Bone steak by sticking my head up a cow’s ass; but I’d rather take the butcher’s word for it.”

Now, please understand hat I have no intention of casting aspersions on the quality of Callahan & Son’s fictional brake pads, but therein lies the problem: blind trust in the word “certified.” An uninformed car buyer could easily mistake a dealer certification for true CPO status, and could suffer greatly as a result. A dealer certification could provide very little assurance of a reliable vehicle, and could lead to problems down the road.

Because how do you know the dealer isn’t a crazy glue sniffer? “Building model airplanes” they say? Well, we’re not buying it. The next thing you know, there’s money missing off the dresser, and your daughter’s knocked up. I’ve seen it a hundred times. Because they know that all they sold you was a certified piece of shit. Hey, if you want me to take a dump in a box and mark it certified, I will…I’ve got spare time.

(Okay, it was probably funnier when Chris Farley said it). But when you consider where the value comes in any CPO program, it’s frustrating to think that some dealers may not make a clear distinction.

Take a Certified Pre Owned Chevrolet. To qualify for CPO status, a vehicle must have been manufactured within the last five model years, and have been driven less than 75,000 miles. Programs differ between manufacturers, but Chevy vehicles have to pass a 172-point inspection (one of the most stringent). In addition to the assurance that any issues have been remedied prior to purchase, the buyer receives a full vehicle history report, documenting all maintenance and repair. Still not sold? Consider the extension of the Powertrain Limited Warranty to six years or 6,000 miles. Along with an impressive Bumper-to-Bumper Limited Warranty for 12 months or 12,000 miles (both of which come with a $0 deductible). And there’s the Roadside Assistance for six years or 100,000 miles. The ability to exchange the vehicle within three days or 150 miles if the buyer is dissatisfied. How about the assurance of two years of scheduled maintenance, and a guarantee of higher resale value? The advantages associated with CPO status make it well worth anyone’s consideration.

All of this (^^^Insert Upward-Pointing Arrows For Dramatic Effect^^^) adds real value to a previously owned vehicle. A dealer that marks a vehicle as “Certified” just to capitalize on this connotation of value deserves to be called out. They are the crazy glue-sniffers.

Imagine you’re driving cross-country and you hit a deer; you then decide to load the carcass into your back seat, only to learn that it’s not dead. Then the deer goes rampant and destroys your car’s interior and the soft-top, only to escape (seriously, you STILL haven’t seen the movie?) Okay maybe that’s an unfair example since it probably wouldn’t be covered by any program, but still you deserve an assurance of reliability, that your investment will be protected.

I paraphrase once more, “for your sake, and your daughter’s sake” take the time to research the actual conditions of a manufacturer’s certified program. Make sure that you know what you’re being offered by a dealer. After all…

“You can get a good look at a butcher’s ass by sticking your head up there. But, wouldn’t you rather take his word for it? Wait…I mean, you can get a good look at a T-bone by sticking your head up a butcher’s ass. No, wait…it’s gotta be YOUR bull…”

Damn, that was a good movie.

Rest well, Chris Farley.


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