Even when it’s tough to afford a new car, plenty of consumers are wary of purchasing used. The potential for a deal on a used car to seem too good to be true all too often results in a costly pile up of repairs and unnecessary expenses. We’ve all heard to the used car “lemon” stories, and are naturally hesitant to buy used, no matter how much of a bargain it seems.

For many drivers, checking out a dealership’s inventory of certified pre-owned cars is a smart move. What is a certified pre-owned car? How is it any better than a traditional used vehicle? We’ll explain all the nuances between the two and offer some guidance before you explore your options.

Certified Chevy Vehicles are Specials

In order for a car to be listed and sold as certified pre-owned, it must meet certain specifications concerning its condition, particularly with respect to its age and mileage. If it satisfies those requirements, then it undergoes an intensive inspection by the dealership. The outcome of that inspection then determines whether the vehicle can be certified as a pre-owned, rather than used vehicle.

If it passes the inspection, age and mileage requirements, the dealership can sell it as a certified pre-owned vehicle, which means that it comes with an extended warranty. That extended warranty, in other words, the peace of mind afforded by guaranteed coverage of parts and service, comes at a price. Certified pre-owned vehicles are priced higher than used cars for this reason. Think of this as a classic example of getting what you pay for.

So, if you want the added protection afforded by a car designated as certified pre-owned, backed by an extended manufacturer’s warranty, be prepared to pay a little more than you might for a used vehicle.

Keep in Mind Before You Buy CPO

Before you purchase a certified pre-owned vehicle, make sure that the vehicle is certified pre-owned by its manufacturer and not just the dealership. Some dealerships might label a car as certified pre-owned because they’ve added an extended warranty to it; however, this does not make it a certified pre-owned vehicle. Only a dealership that is franchised by the manufacturer can sell their calls are certified pre-owned.

So, if your dealership sells new Chevys, it can also sell Chevy CPO used vehicles.

What Makes a Certified Pre-Owned Chevy So Great?

In order for Chevy to designate one of its vehicles as certified pre-owned, the vehicles must pass the requirements outlined by General Motors’ Certified Program. To start with, the used car cannot be older than five years and must have fewer than 75,000 miles on it. From there, the vehicle must then pass Chevy’s 172-Point Inspection, a process that ensures integrity and quality of the vehicle’s mechanics.

Once it passes these benchmarks, the vehicle is then given an extended warranty, and the consumer is presented with the following:

  • A Complete Vehicle History Report
  • Chevy’s 3 Day/150-Mile Satisfaction Guarantee
  • 12-Month or 12,000-Mile Bumper to Bumper Limited Warranty
  • 5-Year or 100,000-Mile Powertrain Limited Warranty (determined by initial in-service date)
  • Complimentary Transportation for the duration of the 5-year/100,000-Mile Powertrain Limited Warranty (also determined by initial in-service date)
  • Trip Interruption Protection
  • $0 Deductible
  • Warranty can be transferred to subsequent owners in the event that consumer sells vehicle prior to warranty’s expiration.
  • 24-Hour Roadside Assistance
  • Qualified buyers are eligible for like-new vehicle financing through GMAC

Depending on the model you are interested in purchasing, you might be eligible not only for Chevy’s special financing, but also the brand’s scheduled maintenance program, including two service visits over the course of two years or 24,000 miles, in addition to free trial periods of Chevy’s own OnStar support services and SiriusXM satellite radio.

Is a Certified Pre-Owned Chevy Right for You?

The first thing you want to do before you consider purchasing a certified pre-owned vehicle is ensure that it is, actually certified pre-owned. Need a reliable Chevy, only shop at a Chevrolet dealership.

Remember, only manufacturer-franchised dealerships can sell CPO vehicles from that brand. A good way to double check is to take a peek at the window sticker. You want to look for the manufacturer’s CPO logo. If you find it, that means the manufacturer has backed the warranty and you are good to go.

About that warranty…make sure you understand what the warranty actually covers. Manufacturers offer everything from limited warranties, or limited and powertrain warranties – designed to cover major engine and transmission parts and repairs. Understand what’s cover and how long the coverage lasts in order to drive with confidence behind the wheel of your CPO used vehicle.

No matter how confident you feel about the vehicle, or how satisfied you are with the warranty coverage, it is still a great idea to have the vehicle checked out by your trusted mechanic, just as you should with any potential used car purchase.

Even if the car checks out as a solid purchase option, be realistic in your expectations of what a CPO used car represents. These are not new cars. Granted, they are in better shape than most used cars, provided they’ve passed the age, mileage, and inspection requirements. However, they are still used vehicles and as such will likely evidence some amount of wear and tear.

The bottom line is, a certified pre-owned vehicle provides more insurance and recourse than a traditional used car purchase. In all likelihood, provided you follow these guidelines, you’ll be pleased with your certified pre-owned vehicle as though it were, in fact, purchased new off the lot.