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What is a Certified Pre-owned Vehicle?

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What is a Certified Pre-owned Vehicle?

Photo courtesy of America's Car Show

Tom T.

 By Tom Torbjornsen
Recently, I was asked to create and record a radio commercial for a car dealership in Buffalo. Part of the script required that the announcer state, “These cars are Certified Pre-owned Vehicles.” So I asked myself, what does Certified Pre-owned really mean anyway? You hear it all the time in dealer commercials or see it in print but have no earthly idea what it means. So with this question in mind, I went to work researching what Certified Pre-owned (CPO) means to a few different carmakers.
First off, CPO refers to a vehicle that meets the criteria for a specific plan that offers special benefits to the customer. What are these criteria? These vehicles are usually low to mid-mileage, no more than up to six years old from the current model year, and they have passed an extensive checklist of qualifiers. Sometimes they carry extended warranty coverage, either from the factory (Ford, Chevy or Chrysler, for example) or from an aftermarket warranty company if an independent car dealer is selling the vehicle. Different carmakers come up with plans, which can be quite confusing and overwhelming. I thought I would round up a few plans for you to look at so you can see the common items that are offered through a CPO program.
GM Certified Pre-owned program “Owner Care”
2-Year/30,000-Mile 1 Standard CPO Maintenance Plan
Starting from the delivery of your vehicle, GM provides you with two years or 30,000 miles of standard vehicle maintenance including:
• Oil changes: based on your vehicle’s Oil Life Monitor
• Monitor system
• Tire rotations
• Multi-Point Vehicle Inspections (MPVI)
Two Warranties:
• You get a 12-Month/12,000-Mile Bumper-to-Bumper Limited Warranty plus GM’s 5-Year/100,000-Mile Powertrain Limited Warranty.
• 24/7 Roadside Assistance and Courtesy Transportation
• 3-Day/150-Mile Customer Satisfaction Guarantee
• 3-month trials of OnStar and Sirius XM Satellite Radio
GM Certification Standards:
All GM Certified Pre-owned Vehicles must:
• Be a Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, Pontiac or Saturn
• Be within current, plus five model years
• Be within a maximum of 75,000 miles
• Pass a 172-Point Vehicle Inspection and Reconditioning Process
• Have a clean title and come with a Vehicle History Report
Chrysler Certified Pre-owned Vehicle Program
Chrysler Certified Pre-owned Vehicles must pass a title history check and rigorous 125-point mechanical and appearance inspection and must be five model years old or newer and have less than 75,000 miles. Certified Chrysler vehicles include:
• Rigorous 125-point mechanical and appearance inspection.
• CARFAX Vehicle History Report
• Factory-backed 7-Year/100,000-Mile Powertrain Limited Warranty runs from date vehicle was sold new.
• 3-Month/3,000-Mile Maximum Care Limited Warranty with $150 deductible runs from date of sale of the vehicle, or at the expiration of the 3/36 Basic Warranty
• $150 deductible
• 24-Hour Towing and Roadside Assistance
• Rental car coverage if repairs take vehicle out of service more than one day
• Owner loyalty communications and service coupons
Ford Certified Pre-owned Vehicle Program
Ford Certified Pre-owned Vehicles must be no more than six years old, and can't have more than 80,000 actual miles on the odometer. Each vehicle includes:
• 172-point Inspection
• Vehicle History Report
• 7-year/100,000-Mile Limited Powertrain Warranty Coverage
• 12-Month/12,000-Mile Comprehensive Warranty from time of purchase
• Certified Pre-owned warranty is transferable
• $100 deductible
• 24-hour Roadside Assistance
• Travel expense reimbursement of up to $500 per day for up to three days related to vehicle breakdown
• Rental car reimbursement of up to $30 per day for up to five days if the vehicle requires overnight mechanical repairs
• Destination expense assistance of up to $75 to cover the emergency cost of a taxi, shuttle or rental car to get you to your destination
• Lockout assistance of up to $50 to unlock vehicle doors
• Fuel delivery if the vehicle runs out of fuel - up to 2 gallons at no charge
• Low APR Financing
Hyundai Certified Pre-owned Vehicle Program
Hyundai Certified Pre-owned Vehicles must be less than five years old and have less than 60,000 miles. Each vehicle includes:
• 150-point inspection
• CARFAX Vehicle History Report
• 10 years/100,000 miles Powertrain Warranty from the original in-service date
• 24-hour roadside assistance for 10 years/unlimited miles from the original in-service date
• $50 deductible
• Warranty is transferable
• Towing, rental, and travel breakdown benefits for Out of Town Repair/Expense
• Free service loan
• Special finance terms available
• XM Satellite Radio 3 trial months of service
Mazda Certified Pre-owned Vehicle Program
Mazda Certified Pre-owned Vehicles must be less than five years old and have been driven fewer than 60,000 miles. Pre-owned benefits include:
• 150-point inspection
• 3-Year AutoCheck Buyback Protection
• 7-Year/100,000-Mile Powertrain warranty from the original in-service date
• 12-Month/12,000-Mile Additional Limited Warranty from the certified purchase date
• No deductible
• AutoCheck Vehicle History Report
• 24-hour roadside assistance
• Warranty coverage is transferable
• Transferable benefits
• Special APR Programs
• Available Mazda Extended Confidence Coverage (CPO Wraps)
BMW Certified Pre-owned Program
Every Certified Pre-owned BMW comes with a protection plan covering you for up to 6 years/100,000 miles with 24/7 Roadside Assistance included. In addition, all previously scheduled maintenance is brought up to date before it becomes certified. The BMW warranty has broad coverage that includes engine, automatic/manual transmission, final-drive assembly, steering, hydraulic brake parts, anti-lock braking system, electrical, air conditioning/heating system, cooling system and fuel system.
Then the next paragraph is the one that we all need to understand before exiting the dealership:
While your Certified Pre-owned BMW comes with a broad coverage warranty that includes such items as the engine, automatic/manual transmission, final-drive assembly, steering, hydraulic brake parts, anti-lock braking system, electrical, air conditioning/heating system, cooling system and fuel system, there are items that are not covered. These items include:
(Read this list of items closely, because it is an excellent example of most carmaker’s exclusions, not just BMW!)
Upkeep Items
Maintenance; engine, transmission and body adjustments; wheel alignment, balancing or rotation; wiper blade inserts; engine drive belts; spark plugs; filters; fuses; all batteries; all hoses and clamps (except air conditioning and power steering); oils, lubricants, fluids, refrigerants and coolants (except as required in the course of a covered repair); brake pads and rotors; brake shoes and drums; manual transmission clutch assemblies; suspension dampers (shock absorbers/strut elements); exhaust systems; tires.
Wear and Use
All wear-and-use items as defined in ‘’The Certified Pre-owned BMW Vehicle Program Consumer Information Statement’’ for Certified Pre-owned BMWs (including all suspension parts and components).
Body and Interior
Paint; glass; headlights; bulbs (except instrumentation); mirrors; lenses; body and chassis; body seals and gaskets; interior and exterior trim, moldings and fasteners; upholstery, headliner, carpeting, floor and trunk mats; convertible top (all components except electronics); air or water leaks; wind or body noises; wheels; damage due to rust, corrosion or contamination except as covered by the BMW New Vehicle Rust and Corrosion Perforation Warranty.
Radio/CD (or cassette) player, telephone, navigation system, CD changer, DVD player or any components of those systems, plus non-original equipment parts, components or accessories.
These are what are called exclusions in a warranty. This is a typical list you will find in most carmaker’s warranty statements. Oftentimes in a warranty description, you will find definition of terms that include “inclusions and exclusions.” Make sure you understand this part of the warranty because it foundationally explains what’s covered and what’s not. I would go into that here but that’s a whole ‘nother subject that I will write about another time.
The above outline covers examples of domestic, Asian and European models directly from their web pages. If you don’t see the vehicle you’re interested in, just ask the dealer you’re shopping at if they offer a CPO (Certified Pre-owned) program and what are the details of said program. I hope this information is helpful in your search for a CPO vehicle!

Till next time … keep rollin’!
Tom Torbjornsen

Tom Torbjornsen is an automotive journalist in good standing with the International Motor Press Association (IMPA) and the Motor Press Guild (MPG), Tom has been the repair and maintenance editor for AOL Autos, At Home Portals and many other websites. You can hear his radio show, “America’s Car Show,” locally on WKSN 1340 AM via the SSI Radio Network at 8 a.m. Saturday. Tom’s television show, “America’s Car Show,” can be seen on Buffalo’s WBBZ-TV. The show airs at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday and is re-aired at 9 a.m. Thursday and 11 a.m. Saturday.
For more information, visit, follow America’s Car Show on Facebook for frequent updates, or email Tom at You can find Tom’s latest book, “How To Make Your Car Last Forever,” at Barnes & Nobel and


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