Certified Pre-Owned Cars – What’s The Difference, Anyway?

Used Cars

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certified pre owned cars

Like most Canadians, you’ve probably seen certified pre-owned cars being marketed in your city by first-party dealerships like Ford and Toyota, among others.

These used cars are becoming more and more popular as car buyers continue to look for thrifty alternatives to buying brand-new, dealer-issued cars.

However, it can often be hard to understand what makes them different from a standard used car – or why a CPO may (or may not) be the right choice for your needs.

In this article, we’ll take a look at what, exactly, Certified Pre-Owned cars offer to used car buyers, clearing up the mystery of manufacturer certification once and for all.

Where Do Certified Pre-Owned Cars Come From?

The idea of certified pre-owned cars began in the mid-1990s, as car leasing increased around Canada and the rest of North America. Dealers were at a loss as to what they should do with the returned, leased cars.

After all, these cars usually had less than 40,000 miles on them, and were generally in great shape – the dealers didn’t want to lose out on the profits to be gained by selling them at a higher price.

To address this, CPO programs were born. Dealers began to recertify these gently used cars, maintaining the original manufacturer’s warranty, and ensuring that the cars were in great condition.

These cars then were marketed as “Certified Pre-Owned” vehicles, and were sold at a lower price than brand-new cars – but at a higher price than traditional used cars. CPO programs offered dealerships a way to make money on returned leased cars, and to provide reliable used cars to their customers.

What Are The Advantages And Disadvantages Of Buying A Certified Pre-Owned Car?

Despite the fact that CPO cars are high-quality and have good manufacturer support, they’re not perfect. Let’s take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of buying a certified pre-owned car.


  • Often covered by manufacturer warranties – The specifics of each warranty differ, but almost all dealerships offer at least a long-term powertrain warranty, and a comprehensive short-term warranty on other mechanical components. This can make CPO cars a more safe purchase – you know you’ll get your money’s worth, even if you have mechanical issues.

  • Thorough inspection by first-party mechanics – Again, each manufacturer has different standards, but every CPO vehicle is inspected rigorously by first-party mechanics to ensure that it’s in great shape. Honda, for example, offers a 182-point inspection of their CPO cars.
  • Additional benefits often included – Manufacturers like Volkswagen tack on additional benefits to CPO cars, such as 24-hour roadside assistance. These sorts of extras can help increase your peace of mind.


  • Much more expensive than a used car – Usually, there is very little risk to buying a CPO car – and manufacturers know that. Because of this, most CPO cars are offered at very high prices, often simply factoring in depreciation to the original sticker price. This means that CPO cars are much more expensive than a traditional used car.

  • Not all manufacturer warranties are built alike – Some manufacturers, like Honda, offer a 7-year, 100,000 mile powertrain warranty on their vehicles, while others like Volkswagen offer only 2-year warranties – which can be expanded, for a fee.

  • Different automakers have different quality standards – Some companies are not very rigorous with their testing. CPO inspections range from 75-point checkups to comprehensive, 225-point checks. The comprehensiveness of a CPO inspection depends entirely on the CPO program of the manufacturer.

  • CPO doesn’t necessarily guarantee a long-lived car – While a certified pre-owned vehicle is usually defect-free at the time of purchase, there is no guarantee that your car won’t suffer automotive trouble. If you do have an issue and you’re out of warranty, you’re out in the cold.

As you can see, there are quite a few things to consider when deciding whether or not to buy a certified pre-owned car.

Is A Certified Pre-Owned Car Right For Me?

This answer depends mainly on what you’re looking for in a car.

If you are willing to pay a bit extra for a robust manufacturer’s warranty, and for the comprehensive inspections that are given to you buy a CPO program of your choice, it can be well worth your money. You simply must understand that you will be paying quite a bit more than you would if you bought a used car from a third-party dealership.

However, CPOs are a poor choice if you’re truly looking to maximize value in a used car. Any used-car dealership that is reputable will perform their own inspections on their vehicles, and offer competitive warranties for sale that can easily equal those of a CPO program.

So while third-party dealerships like Ride Time don’t offer CPO cars, we still perform comprehensive certifications and inspections on each and every one of our high quality used cars, putting us on par with even the best CPO programs out there.

Shop at Ride Time – And Save

At Ride Time, we have a huge selection of independently-certified, high-quality used cars, trucks, and SUVs.

Our inspections rival even the most comprehensive CPO programs, and our online, 360-degree photo gallery allows you to get an inside look at our cars, guaranteeing that you get the full picture on the quality and cleanliness of our used cars – before you even step in our building!

So if you’re considering a CPO car, but are turned off by the high price of dealership offerings, check out Ride Time today. We’re sure to have a high-quality car that will fit your needs – and we’ll give you a darn good price on it, to boot.

So come in today. Let us show you why CPOs – while a great option – aren’t always the best choice when you’re looking for fantastic value on a terrific used car.


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