Is a CPO Vehicle Worth the Extra Cost?

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Meghan Carbary has been writing professionally for nearly 20 years. A published journalist in three states, Meghan honed her skills as a feature writer and sports editor. She has now expanded her skill-set into the automotive industry as a content writer for Auto Credit Express, where she contributes to several automotive and auto finance blogs.


, - January 18, 2021

Depending on your situation, yes, a certified pre-owned (CPO) vehicle can be worth the extra cost over a regular used car. When you have bad credit, a CPO can be a good compromise between a new and used car. CPO vehicles come with many of the more desirable features of newer models, without the hefty price tag.

What is a CPO Car?

A CPO vehicle is a used car that has gone through a rigorous inspection, has been refurbished, and has some form of a manufacturer-backed warranty. These vehicles are usually only a few years old and often have just come off-lease, but all manufacturers have their own requirements a CPO has to meet. They can be a good alternative to the high prices of new cars in today's market, while still giving you the safety and technology features that most borrowers today desire.

However, CPO vehicles do cost more than your typical used car. The reason for this is the safety and security of having a manufacturer-back warranty, and the refurbishment that goes into making a CPO ready to sell. Regular used cars are sold as-is, and there's no recourse if something goes wrong after you sign the contract in many cases.

CPOs vs Used Vehicles

CPO vehicles are typically newer than everyday used cars, which is one of the factors that make them slightly more expensive. The extra cost upfront can be a good deal if you're constantly on the go or need that extra peace of mind that comes with having a manufacturer-backed warranty. However, every auto financing situation is unique, and you should focus on buying the car that's right for you – CPO or not.

Besides age, there are a few differences between a CPO vehicle and an ordinary used car.

Certified Pre-Owned Vehicles

  • Typically seven years old or newer
  • Lower mileage vehicles, usually under 85,000 miles (limits vary)
  • Clean vehicle history
  • Generally only one owner, may just be coming off-lease
  • Only available at franchised dealerships
  • Multi-point inspection by a brand-certified mechanic
  • Service, maintenance, and refurbishment completed
  • Manufacturer-backed warranty

Standard Used Cars

  • The age of a used car can vary widely
  • Typically higher-mileage vehicles, may have 100,000 miles or more
  • May have had multiple owners
  • Usually clean titles if purchased at a franchised dealer
  • Found at both franchised and independent dealerships
  • Cars may or may not be inspected
  • Service and maintenance vary by dealership
  • Generally no refurbishment
  • Sold as-is, typically no warranty included with the selling price

Just because these differences seem like they're on totally different ends of the spectrum, doesn't mean that one option is better than the other. A lot of what goes into deciding whether or not a CPO is for you comes down to your needs. And, getting an affordable, reliable vehicle is the name of the game – especially when it comes to getting a bad credit car loan.

Consider All the Costs of a Car

When you're financing your next vehicle, you have to take into account more than just the cost of the loan. A certified pre-owned car may cost more initially, but it could save you money down the road by needing less service and repair. Add to this the money-saving convenience of a warranty and you could save more than you expect.

Plus, since they're usually newer cars, CPOs tend to be more fuel-efficient and come with more bells and whistles than their older counterparts.

On the other hand, if a CPO is out of your price range, you could save money by getting something more affordable that’s still reliable. The downside to this option is that it could cost you in the long run if something happens and the vehicle needs an expensive repair. However, you can typically purchase an extended service contract for a used car that could aid you in paying for repairs.

Additionally, no matter which type of used car you go with, know what costs to expect. Regular maintenance, tires, full-coverage insurance (required by auto lenders), and fuel can all rack up charges quickly. This all being said, you can use our car loan calculator to see an estimate of what you may expect to get if you're looking for an auto loan. Once you take into account your budget and assess what you need from a vehicle, you can see whether or not a CPO could be within reach.

Ready to Grab Ahold of Your Next Car Loan?

Whether you're going for a certified pre-owned car or just shopping for a standard used one, we've got you covered at CarsDirect. We've brought together a network of dealerships across the county that have the lending resources to work with borrowers in many types of credit situations.

You can browse our new and used car sections, and then start the process of finding the dealership for you, all right here! If you're ready to be connected with a local special finance dealership to get underway with your next auto loan, start now by filling out our fast, free, no-obligation car loan request form.

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Meghan Carbary has been writing professionally for nearly 20 years. A published journalist in three states, Meghan honed her skills as a feature writer and sports editor. She has now expanded her skill-set into the automotive industry as a content writer for Auto Credit Express, where she contributes to several automotive and auto finance blogs.


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