If you’re in the market for a used car, there’s good news. Used cars don’t have to be as risky a purchase as they used to be. Thanks to certification programs, it’s sometimes difficult to distinguish a new car from a used car – and more consumers are turning to certified cars for better value.
Certification offers a way to weed out unscrupulous used-car dealers who might sell damaged cars, such as those ravaged by floodwaters or which have been involved in major accidents; both prime candidates for seller scams.
The number of certified pre-owned vehicles sold this year is expected to increase significantly from 1.7 million purchased in 2008. Besides costing less than brand new cars, certified vehicles also come with many of the same benefits, which is helpful in eliminating much of the guesswork associated when we buy used vehicles.
Some say it is one of the few segments of the auto market where both sales and value to the buyer have increased. Be wary, however, because not all certification programs are created equal. To help sort out the best from the worthless, used-car experts offer the following tips:
Certified – But By Whom?
Make sure you know who sets the standards for the certification program and who makes certain the standards are being enforced. Look for a manufacturer-backed program; the best people to certify a car are the ones who built it and specialize in that make. Most manufacturers will offer a limited warranty in addition to honoring the car’s original warranty.
Do Your Homework
Research the models that make sense for your driving needs. Check safety and reliability reports published online and prices from your area. Start your search by visiting the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and Consumer Reports.
How Is the Car Certified?
At a minimum, a car should have a detailed mechanical inspection and vehicle history reports. Carfax Vehicle History Reports are a mandatory part of the certification process for more than 80 percent of today’s manufacturer-certified programs.
What Does Certification Get You?
The certified used car you’re buying probably comes with an extended warranty. Make sure you know exactly what this warranty covers and for how long. Remember, you can add additional coverage if needed.
Ask For More
If you want roadside assistance, free oil changes or anything else, never be afraid to ask.