If you're looking to buy a new-to-you vehicle, then a certified used car, truck, or SUV is the way to go. By shopping certified, you can feel confident that you're getting a quality pre-owned vehicle with the highest ratings, reliability assurances, and features available. Certified vehicles undergo a strict certification process, where experts look at important factors like mileage, condition, and value. This way, drivers can feel confident that the vehicle they're buying is one of the best market offerings available.

What Is a Certified Used Car?

Chevy Silverado by James Banks Photography is licensed with CC BY-SA 2.0

A certified used car, or certified pre-owned car, is a vehicle that's undergone a factory certification process to guarantee its quality and value. Manufacturers sponsor these certifications, ensuring the vehicles that receive the certified label meet strict factory-level requirements first. These cars have a seal of approval from both the dealership and the manufacturer that says they're high-quality top-grade offerings. Here's a closer look at the vehicle features that experts consider when certifying a vehicle:

Use

One critical element manufacturers and dealerships consider when deciding whether to give a vehicle the certified used label is the amount of prior use. Only gently used vehicles that have been well maintained and cared for receive this certification. You should expect to see only light wear and tear on a vehicle that looks like new.

Age

Manufacturers and dealerships also look at the age of a vehicle when considering whether it deserves certification. Most certified used vehicles are newer editions and offer more modern technology, safety, and efficiency options. Younger cars typically also have less wear and tear, fewer miles, and feature modern-looking body styles.

Mileage

When you buy certified used, you can expect to receive a vehicle with relatively low mileage. Most certified pre-owned cars have lower mileage than other used options, meaning they can take you farther and last longer. Like the cosmetic features of the car, dealerships ensure the vehicle has been lightly used before giving it the certified credential.

Damage

Certified used vehicles often have little to no damage to their interiors or exteriors. Experts look at the vehicle's accident history report to confirm it hasn't been in any major collisions. They also thoroughly examine the vehicle to check for superficial or structural issues on or in the vehicle. This might include water damage from weather or interior damage, such as lingering smells, stains, or tears resulting from smoking, animals, or children. It might also include impact damage from an accident or another type of collision. 

By ensuring no lasting damage exists, experts can certify that the vehicle is in top operating condition. Structural issues can cause long-term problems or interfere with a vehicle's operation, so this is a crucial part of the certification process.

History

Many certified used vehicles come with additional assurance, like reliable reports from Carfax or other trustworthy vehicle history providers. These reports offer an entire vehicle history, so you don't have to just take the dealership's word for its quality and record. You can easily view information about the vehicle's maintenance, how many previous owners it's had, and if any factory recalls were issued for the car.

Why Buy a Certified Used Car?

If you're planning to buy a used car, buying certified is the way to go. The extensive certification process helps you to shop confidently since you'll know that you're getting a high-quality used vehicle with factory assurances. If you're on the fence about purchasing a certified pre-owned car, truck, or SUV, consider these benefits:

Peace of Mind

One of the most obvious reasons to invest in this type of vehicle is for the peace of mind it can offer. When shopping for a used car, there are often unknowns you might not account for. For example, the vehicle could have high mileage, damage from an accident, an unknown maintenance record, or be old and poorly maintained. These factors can introduce risk into your car buying process.

Buying a certified used vehicle lets you know the car meets strict factory standards. Access to maintenance records and the assurance that your car is only gently used will help you feel confident about the vehicle you're buying. The certification also makes browsing easy because you don't have to worry about discovering potential problems with your car.

Warranty

Because dealerships are confident in their certified pre-owned vehicles, most offer higher-level warranties for certified cars than for other used cars in their inventory. This, too, can add to your peace of mind when shopping for a used vehicle. These warranties ensure the car you're driving can serve you for a long time.

Availability

Another benefit to buying certified used is availability. Current supply chain challenges mean that some new models of popular vehicles are available only in limited quantities. Not only that, but they might not have all the features you're looking for as an option. With certified pre-owned, the car you want can be available immediately. In addition, you can search for tons of desirable features and technology without fear of availability or product delays. When browsing a pre-owned car selection, you can often purchase for-sale models the same day.

Used vs. Certified Used: What's the Difference?

Certified used vehicles are pre-owned, but the difference is that certified used cars have superior credentials that attest to their quality and reliability. Both types of pre-owned cars have had previous owners, but with the certification, that history is often much more apparent. Often, certified models are the higher-end models available for a vehicle, too, so you can get the top feature options for your given vehicle.

Used cars without the certification can still be reliable deals, but they're often older models with higher miles or more complicated vehicle histories. While they're still great options for those shopping for a new-to-you car, truck, or SUV, they might not showcase the best of a dealership's selection the way a certified used vehicle might.

Getting a certified pre-owned vehicle helps keep you confident in your vehicle purchase. You can browse knowing you're getting a factory-certified offering. Look for this certification when shopping to ensure you're taking home a like-new vehicle that meets all your needs and carries an expert seal of approval. If you have questions about the certification process, our certified used inventory, or our certified used service offerings, give us a call or stop by. We'd love to hear from you.

1Dealer Discount applied to everyone.