The process of buying a pre-owned car is much the same whatever make and model you are looking to acquire, but with a certified pre-owned car, there are some fundamental differences that you should be aware of before you agree to part with your cash.
There are plenty of car-buying venues you can visit such as TraversAutos.com and others like it, but just before you arrange your visit to choose your next car it is worth getting the lowdown on the best way of getting the biggest bang for your buck.
Not all certified used car programs are equal
Too many car buyers tend to make the mistake of thinking that all certified used car programs are pretty much the same and don’t ask enough question about the level of protection they are buying into.
For example, a manufacturer-certified vehicle program can often be more comprehensive than a dealer-certified one.
That is not always the case but one of the advantages of going with a manufacturer’s program could be that if the dealership closes down, you will still have the manufacturer to fall back on if something goes wrong with your vehicle.
The basic point is that you should never make assumptions about what cover you have and instead, it is much better to ask a few searching questions about what you are getting for your money.
Up to standard
A good way of checking if the car you are thinking about buying is up to scratch is to ask the dealer if the manufacturer and not just the dealer themselves are offering the certification.
This is a good way of verifying that your intended certified pre-owned car meets the manufacturer’s rigorous certification requirements, and it also opens up the possibility of getting your vehicle serviced at different locations throughout the country.
Take a test drive
Although the fact that the car has been able to pass an inspection carried out by a factory-trained technician should give you a reasonable level of comfort, you should still insist on taking a test drive.
Take the time to look over the car as thoroughly as possible and then arrange to take it for a test drive before you start any negotiations for buying the vehicle.
Things to check
There are plenty of motorists who simply don’t know what to look for when inspecting a vehicle for potential faults and anything that is not right.
Ask to see the inspection report for the vehicle so that you can go through all of the details. Also check to ensure that the vehicle identification number (VIN) matches the car that you are intending to buy.
A visual inspection of the exterior should include a check to see if the paint matches on all of the panels, as a slight difference that is noticeable enough see, could be an indication that it has been in an accident and repaired. Ask the dealer for the car’s history if you have any doubts on this score.
If you are not a trained mechanic, you can’t be expected to spot everything correctly but by looking at the paperwork and using your eyes to inspect the vehicle, you can get some visual clues that might prompt you to ask some more searching questions.
Checking the warranty
Once you are satisfied with the condition of the car itself, you want to check what is covered in the warranty you are being offered.
No one really likes reading the small print in documentation and there are plenty of times that this decision comes back to bit us at a later date, so try to invest the time in reading all of the details of the CPO warranty.
You should be aware that a good number of certified used-car warranties only offer coverage in respect of the powertrain, so if you really want bumper-to-bumper coverage, you may need to purchase that separately or negotiate a more comprehensive policy if possible.
Also check the length of the warranty and whether it is transferable if you subsequently decide to sell the vehicle while it is still in force.
Another good point to remember is that despite the fact that the car you are thinking about buying is certified and therefore gives you a bit of comfort about its condition, this should not prevent you from negotiating on the price.
Haggling over the price and trying to beat the sticker price is part of the car-buying experience and buying a certified pre-owned car at a great price, is a great way of getting the biggest bang for your buck.
Adela Bourquin has been trading in autos for some time and has some good tips to share for anyone wanting to try and get a good deal on a pre-owned car. She writes regularly for a variety of motoring websites.