More than ever before, automakers’ CPO programs are offering perks that rival those of brand-new vehicles.
Most CPO vehicles have passed a rigorous inspection and reconditioning process that covers everything from replacing brake pads and checking tire treads to testing alarm systems and removing odors. As a result, most cars are next to new in condition and appearance.
Furthermore, CPO vehicles now boast warranty coverage that’s often as good as that of brand-new models.
“For example, every certified pre-owned Mercedes-Benz comes with a one-year CPO warranty that covers the vehicle for one year and up to 100,000 total vehicle-accumulated miles,” explained Marc Cannon, senior vice president of corporate communications and public policy for AutoNation, the nation’s largest car retail chain. “The Mercedes CPO warranty begins after the Mercedes-Benz four-year/50,000 mile new vehicle limited warranty expires by time or mileage, whichever comes first.”
All manufacturer CPOs must be late-model, relatively low-mileage vehicles to even be eligible for certification. A Honda CPO, for example, must be less than 6 years old and have a maximum of 80,000 miles. Such warranties offer considerable peace of mind and may save a driver thousands in repair costs.
Many CPO programs, including those offered by Volvo (car guide Intellichoice’s Best Premium CPO Program for the past six years), Jaguar, Ford and Audi, provide warranties that are transferable to another owner, helping to protect the vehicle’s resale value.
A free Carfax vehicle history report, which comes with the Carfax Buyback Guarantee, is also now standard with CPOs.
But there’s more. In addition to getting a late-model car with low miles that’s in tiptop shape, CPO buyers are increasingly enjoying ownership perks that are almost indistinguishable from the benefits they would enjoy if they had bought it new.
These little extras may include low-rate “incentive” loans, a satisfaction guarantee, free maintenance, roadside assistance, courtesy transportation and even complimentary service loaner cars.
“The perks would be basically the same [as with a new car],” Cannon said. “The difference would be depending on model and year of the CPO. A new car could offer better interest rates [from the manufacturer] and a longer warranty.”
Cannon reports that, at certain times, at least, AutoNation dealerships offer CPO interest rates as low as zero percent. Toyota offers CPOs (that include its Lexus and Scion brands) at its standard new-car financing rates and lease terms to qualified customers.
General Motors’ CPO perks include 24-hour roadside assistance; a three-month free trial of both OnStar Directions and Connections and SiriusXM satellite radio on suitably equipped vehicles; and a three-day/150-mile customer satisfaction guarantee that offers an exchange for a different vehicle if you aren’t completely satisfied with your original CPO purchase.
Hyundai’s CPO program, named 2013’s Best Popular CPO Program by IntelliChoice, offers 10-year/unlimited-mileage roadside assistance and first-day rental car reimbursement for covered repairs. The Korean automaker also offers an optional CPO wrap service contract, which includes towing to the nearest Hyundai dealership, rental car reimbursement up to $35 per day for up to 10 days, and trip interruption coverage up to $200 per day for up to five days for incidental costs such as lodging and meals.
On top of six years of roadside service (from the original in-service date, with no mileage restrictions), BMW CPOs offer optional BMW Assist, which provides emergency assistance, directions, traffic and weather information at the push of a button.
CPO shoppers should also keep in mind that even if a particular perk is not officially part of a factory-certified program, additional features can sometimes be negotiated with a specific dealer at the time of purchase.
—Paul Rogers, Brand Publishing Writer