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  1. #1

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    Certified Pre-Owned Car versus Used Car?

    What is the difference between a "certified pre-owned" car versus a "used car"? Aren't they both technically "used cars"?

    What are some used car buying things to watch out for when you are, well ... a friggin' stupid idiot when it comes to cars? I do not know a single person who knows anything about cars. I do not know any mechanics. Whenever I had a problem with my car, my dad always took care of it; he passed away this summer.

    How do you make sure you don't wind up with a lemon?

  2. #2

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    Certified pre-owned is usually (not always) a manufacturer guarantee. If you buy a CPO Lexus, for example, you can take it to any Lexus dealer during the warranty period. You'll pay slightly more for CPO.

    As for not winding up with a lemon, my brother swears by "off lease" cars that were leased to companies, not individuals. For his last one, a Camry, he just called the Toyota dealer nearby and requested to be called when a company lease car with less than X miles became available. The dealer called him and gave him some $$$ off because he did not need to advertise the car or do much prep work.
    AceOn6, the golf loving skating fan

  3. #3
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    http://www.edmunds.com/certified-cars/

    http://www.edmunds.com/certified-car...-vehicles.html

    Quote Originally Posted by Edmunds
    To qualify for our definition of a "certified used" vehicle, the warranty must be backed by the original vehicle manufacturer. The original manufacturer of the vehicle is using its dealer network to inspect the car, determine if it is worth certifying and then offer support for the vehicle for a period of time beyond the original warranty. Not all used cars can qualify for certified pre-owned programs, and terms vary from one brand to the next, but any true certified pre-owned program will include at least a 100-point inspection of the car. If problems are found, the factory-trained technicians will fix it or disqualify the car from the program. The certified warranty protection typically takes effect when the original warranty expires and, like a new car warranty, offers coverage for a certain number of years or miles, whichever comes first.

    Used cars sold with third-party warranties are sometimes advertised as "certified" but are not truly factory-certified because the authority and expertise of the vehicle's manufacturer is not standing behind the "warranty" in any way. In fact, the term "warranty" may be misleading, as third-party warranties are really just extended service contracts that the buyer must purchase at an additional cost. Extended service contracts can usually be purchased for any vehicle, and the vehicle's manufacturer is not involved in any coverage promised by the aftermarket service contract. A true warranty offers coverage that is included in the original purchase price.

  4. #4
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    Research the make and model of any car you are interested in buying. There are many internet sites that will tell you about the safety, reliability and market value of used cars. They will even tell you about typical mechanical issues they might have, recalls the make/model has had, etc...

    In most states, you are legally allowed to take a car you are considering purchasing to an outside mechanic to be checked. Ask friends, neighbors or co-workers for suggestions. Most garages offer the service for a flat fee and will tell you if there is anything that should be fixed and if the car is generally decent.

  5. #5
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    Don't ever by a used car unless you have it checked by a mechanic ever. Use Carfax. I bought a used car that was 6 months old. I was told it was a "program car". It had very low miles on it, looked great. But what I wasn't told was it was in a flood. Bought up by an insurance company. Then auctioned off, cleaned up and resold. This was before Carfax, so there was no way of finding out. I found out a few months later when I had a ton of problems with everything. I took it to another dealer who looked it up and told me what had happened to the car. I had to go to a lawyer and they threatened the dealership and they traded it out for me. Cost me a lot in the long run.
    A program car is like what Aceon6 said. They are given to a company or a person for a few months and then put back on the market. Most of the time it's a car one of the owners uses for personal use. Very low miles ect.
    You might want to look into leasing. I love it. I get a new car every 3 years. At this time of the year you can get 0 down. I love the fact that no matter what happens to the car it's under warranty. All I have to do is change the oil. Most leases also have a total replacement protection so you don't have to get that on insurance (or towing).

  6. #6
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    My current vehicle was certified pre-owned. Low miles (25k) for the age of of the car (three years old). I had nothing but trouble with it the first few months that I had it. I thought I was in lemon city.

    The dealership and company (GM) made good on the problems, however. I ended up paying for one repair that was more maintenance in nature. Personally, I think the problems occured because the car had sat still so much under the previous owner, then I bought it and freaked it out with my 25,000+ miles a year driving style. (Most of the problems were in the suspension/drive train). I'll bet the guy who owned it before me never got above 50 mph, and here I was flying down the freeway at 80.

    Anyway, I don't know if they treated me so well in the repair of the car (which has been fine ever since, btw, three years later) because it was certified pre-owned, or because of the fact that the dealership's manager was my son's ex-baseball coach. I assume the former, because several of the repairs were paid for directly by GM.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by mysticchic View Post
    Don't ever by a used car unless you have it checked by a mechanic ever. Use Carfax. I bought a used car that was 6 months old. I was told it was a "program car". It had very low miles on it, looked great. But what I wasn't told was it was in a flood. Bought up by an insurance company. Then auctioned off, cleaned up and resold. This was before Carfax, so there was no way of finding out. I found out a few months later when I had a ton of problems with everything. I took it to another dealer who looked it up and told me what had happened to the car. I had to go to a lawyer and they threatened the dealership and they traded it out for me. Cost me a lot in the long run.
    But even Carfax will not tell you everything. When I bought my first car in 2001, a 1998 Ford Taurus (that I drove until 2009) from Morris Ford in Burnt Hills, NY, the Carfax for that car came up clean. Yet, as time went on, I started noticing that there were things wrong with it. First of all, there was no door jamb sticker on the driver's door, and the insurance company made issue of that. *I* think that car was in an accident, but was repaired "off the record" for some reason. The only door lock that worked consistantly was the driver's door lock. The passenger front lock never worked(you had to put it up by hand), and you had to hit the button on the key fob multiple times before the driver's rear door would unlock (always with a pronounced click). And I paid $12,000 for this car, at 3 years old and 24,000 miles on it. My '05 Cruiser was 4 years old, with 66,000 miles on it, and the base price was only $7495, when I bought it.

    I drove that car 8.5 years, regardless, before it developed a cylinder head and head gasket leak which would have meant replacing the entire engine, which would have cost me more than the car was worth. I junked it, and wound up with the '05 Cruiser only a week later.

    The Cruiser was bought from one of the most reputable dealerships in the area, Rensselaer Honda, from their used Car division. I found it on their website, and it had the Carfax listed, plus the fact that the one previous owner had just one repair done on it. It was the only car I looked at, and I had actually wanted one ever since they first came out. I cracked up the sales guy when I went in to test drive it by insisting that he show me the door jamb sticker, but I told him that I had caught heat from 2 different insurance companies because my previous car lacked one. It's been like night and day with this car; it hasn't given me a moment's trouble after 14 months of driving. I have it under a 4-year, 48,000-mile Service Contract (with only a $100 deductible), and I also have RH's Platinum Rewards Card, which give me free NYS inspections, 20 free oil changes, a free set of wiper inserts every year, 10% off of tire rotations, and I get points every single time my car goes into the shop.

    If I can get another 8-10 years out of this car, I will be happy with that.
    Last edited by Karina1974; 01-08-2011 at 01:48 PM.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by sk8er1964
    Personally, I think the problems occured because the car had sat still so much under the previous owner, then I bought it and freaked it out with my 25,000+ miles a year driving style. (Most of the problems were in the suspension/drive train). I'll bet the guy who owned it before me never got above 50 mph, and here I was flying down the freeway at 80.
    When I was between cars, one car I had inquired about was my parents' next-door neighbor's 1986 Camry. That car was in very good condition, body-wise, because it was kept garaged, but it also didn't see very much "road time" because the couple who owned it were elderly and didn't do very much driving. But their son was going to keep it after his mother passed away. I wonder if I would have had the same kind of problems that you had with yours.

    I've always made sure to take my cars out on the highway every so often and give them a good run. The Cruiser got it big-time last Sunday when I went up to the Saranac lake area to visit my brother and nephews. 80 MPH up and back on the Northway, and coming back I was trying to keep up with my 71-year-old father, who was leaving me in the dust.
    Last edited by Karina1974; 01-08-2011 at 01:45 PM.

  9. #9

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    My SO just bought himself a pre-owned Jaguar convertable..red with black top.........beautiful. He looked around online for over a year and found that one. The dealership was one with an awsome reputation, and he got a chance to speak with the former owner......so there was some provenance and he found out a lot about that car from him and also from the mechanic at the dealership..........He knows what he's doing because he knows cars. But generally, if you don't do your homework, it's buyer beware, and that's something I know first hand.
    Addicted to FSU

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by BaileyCatts View Post
    Whenever I had a problem with my car, my dad always took care of it; he passed away this summer.

    How do you make sure you don't wind up with a lemon?
    I'm sorry for your loss, BaileyCatts.

    As the least technically proficient person I know aside from my boss, especially when it comes to cars, I share your anxiety. I had to replace my second Honda when it was rear-ended and totaled and the Cash for Clunkers program had just ended. There no cars available at local dealerships that I wanted to buy. After a great deal of anxiety, I bought a (used) body double of my late car through CarMax, and couldn't be happier. Previous forays into used car purchases did not turn out as well, but those occurred years ago.

    Because I am such a technical dummy, I rely on sites such as edmunds.com to provide me the data I would not otherwise have.

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