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Used vs. Certified Pre-Owned: The Differences

When it comes to searching for the best value in a used car, many of us head straight to the nearest car dealership gung-ho and ready to test drive a vehicle that is newer and more practical than our current car. Saving money is the goal when buying a pre-owned car, and bringing home a like-new model that provides robust performance and longevity is what we all hope for when car shopping.

That’s why it’s essential to know all the facts about your future purchase by comparing the differences between used, and certified pre-owned cars. Both options have their benefits, and below is how a used car compares to a certified pre-owned vehicle at the dealership.

Why Buy a Used Car from a Dealership?

Reliability and a guarantee is what all used car buyers want and finding the match to your car dreams and budget is fairly simple when choosing the dealership route. It’s smart to choose a car dealer with a solid reputation and above-average ratings and reviews. But even small-time dealerships without any history can do justice for used car seekers.

If you’re to envision the ideal time spent scouting used cars at a dealership, it should be alongside a friendly and knowledgeable sales associate. A great sales team will provide all the background information and details of a used car before, during, and after your test drive. The perks of buying a used car from a dealership rather than off the street is that car buyers have the opportunity to get the full rundown on the vehicle’s specs, plus, there is usually a wide variety of car models to choose from.

Also, it’s easy to trade in your current car at a dealership, and you can use the value of your old car as a down payment for your next auto loan. Hardly anything can compare to the ease and assistance provided at a car dealership and having at least two to three car options that suit your car preference and driving style is always beneficial!

Choosing a Used Car

With the range of available car models to pick from in the age of online car buying, once you pinpoint the year, make, and model that interests you most, your next step is the test drive. Here’s a few things one can expect before buying a used car from a dealership.

  • Used cars sold at dealerships tend to go through an inspection and servicing that ensures the vehicle’s full operability. Essentially, you take home a vehicle as-is, the way it was in the previous owners’ hands. However, many dealers will replace the oil, air filters, conduct a transmission flush, and or replace the brake pads or headlight and taillight bulbs if needed.
  • Many dealerships sell used cars that contain the full vehicle history report and buyers should remain cautious if the seller doesn’t provide any of the background information upon request. A withdrawal or declination of the vehicle’s history report is risky for car buyers because there could be unforeseen issues or unknown damages that weren’t reported by the previous owner.
  • Depending on the vehicle trim level you choose, your used car will most likely include the basics without any extras like rubber car mats or trunk accessories. For bargain hunters or first-time car buyers, saving money at a used car dealership is the way to go. If you wish to spend a little extra on a used car, below are what certified pre-owned cars offer.

Buying a Certified Pre-Owned Car

When you choose to purchase a certified car rather than a regular used vehicle, you’re practically buying a like-new car with lower mileage and a handful of warranty benefits. Drivers tend to pay more money for a certified vehicle, but there are plenty of extras involved, including:

  • Extended engine warranties
  • Free trial for SiriusXM Satellite Radio
  • 24/7 Roadside assistance
  • CarFax report history
  • The Odometer mileage is usually under 50-60k
  • Professional auto service and OEM parts replacements
  • Refurbished headlights and taillights

Drivers who pick a certified pre-owned car, truck or SUV truly get what they pay for and nothing beats the satisfaction and reliability of a like-new car at a lower price tag.

How Do Used Cars Compare to Certified Pre-Owned?

The differences between used and certified cars and the included benefits vary depending on the automaker and whatever the dealership offers you. Saving money while finding the like-new quality in a used car at an amazing value is what dealerships do best, and whether you’re after a used car at an affordable price, or you wish to spend a little bit more for a certified used car and drive home with plenty of benefits, the most important thing all used car buyers should remember is to ask for the vehicle history report. It’s an absolute must if you don’t want to end up buying a used car that is hiding secrets from the past owner.

Take your time when shopping used and certified pre-owned cars. There are deals to be found at all dealerships and knowing what type of car you want and the max amount you’re willing to budget basically saves you the time and energy during your used car search. Shop wisely, and speak with your dealership’s sales associate about their benefits on used and certified pre-owned vehicles.

Patrick Kirk
I am a full-time copywriter from Naples, FL and living in Austin, TX. I have written for the automotive industry for three years, and enjoy other hobbies such as camping and mountain biking. I received my Bachelors from Florida Gulf Coast University, and served in the U.S Coast Guard.

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