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What Does It Mean When A Used Car Is Certified?

Feb 16, 2008
Generally speaking, certified used cars are:

i. Usually eligible for special financing and an improved warranty because they have passed an inspection.

ii. Less than five years old with less than 50,000 miles.

iii. The certifying authority (usually the dealership) must have made sure that all the maintenance is up-to-date, which means that all the oil changes and transmission flushes, etc. (normal maintenance) should be complete.

iv. The parts of the car that are wearable, such as brake pads and tires, have at least 50% of their life left.

A vehicle is "Certified" after all maintenance is done and the inspection is completed. When used cars are "certified," they generally have a better warranty and can help you qualify for better financing rates.

You should buy a certified used car if you can because you almost always get a good deal. There are a couple things you should know before you buy a certified used car.

1) If the certified used car is less than a year old, they are almost always used rental cars.

Buying a used rental car can be a good thing. Typically, they are maintained well and are an excellent value. However, they aren't for everyone. If you want more information before you decide, check out our advice on "buying a used rental car."

2) Remember that not all certifications are created equal.

Ford, Toyota, GM, BMW, and other auto manufacturers have great certification programs that are superior to dealerships. Dealin' Dave's car lot may offer certifications that are, in reality, just a sales gimmick. If you can, it is usually better to buy a car that an auto manufacturer has certified.

The last thing you should know is that you should request the "vehicle certification inspection" report before buying a certified used car. The inspecting mechanic details his or her opinion about the vehicle's parts and functions in a report. These reports are required to be kept on file after a dealership certifies a vehicle. Oftentimes the dealership has to give you copy if you decide to buy the car. If a dealership doesn't have this report or especially if they refuse to give it to you, do not buy the car. You should go somewhere else where they will provide you with the "vehicle certification inspection" report.
About the Author
Author Jason Lancaster, an auto industry veteran, created AccurateAutoAdvice.com. You'll find accurate advice on certified preowned cars and certified used cars.
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