Certified Used: Better Than New?


Buy a new car, and you’ll get fleeced when you drive off the dealer’s lot.

Buy used, and you risk getting a car with mechanical problems sure to cost thousands.

New cars lure you with the smell of fresh glue and chemicals; used cars lure you with lower prices.

New cars offer peace of mind and a nice warranty; used cars offer… umm… lower prices.

There is a middle ground between new and used that more and more consumers are noticing: Certified used cars.

Certified programs have been around a long time, so I’m not going to insult your intelligence by assuming you’ve never heard of them. But I am going to say why I think they are the better choice, as long as you do it right.

Like anytime you shop for a car, you should be on the lookout for scams. Any dealer can call a car “certified,” but it could mean only that the dealer built a third-party service contract into the price. Skip those and look only for “factory certified” cars or programs in which the car is certified by the original manufacturer.

That’s when you can be sure the car has low miles, has undergone a strict inspection, had any issues repaired, and is offered with a warranty, sometimes up to 100,000 miles. I think that’s a far better deal than buying new, because much of the original depreciation has already happened and you’re receiving all the benefits of buying new, minus the new car smell.

The downside? You’ll usually pay a couple thousand more for a certified car than you would for a comparable used car that isn’t certified. For the ultra-budget-conscious it might not be the best choice, but for those looking to save a significant amount of money versus buying new, certified programs are the best thing to come to U.S. car sales since Toyota arrived in the market.

Please feel free to tell us why in a comment!


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