When you start to look for a car, you will see phrases like "certified pre-owned" and "pre-owned." Those certified cars, or CPOs, and pre-owned vehicles do differ in a couple of ways, but it's not necessarily a deal breaker. Pre-owned cars are excellent deals because you avoid that huge jump in depreciation that happens the minute the car is driven off the lot. In other words, what you pay for pre-owned is a lot closer to the actual value of the car compared to paying for a new car.
Yes, Pre-Owned Means Used
Pre-owned does mean used. So does certified pre-owned. In each case, someone has previously owned and driven the car for at least a short time. This can be as little as a few weeks, by the way; used cars do not have to be decades' old contraptions. Certified pre-owned vehicles are newer in age and have gone through a specific maintenance checklist created by the manufacturer before being placed on the lot. Pre-owned vehicles, on the other hand, can be older, and depending on the dealer, they could have undergone similar or different maintenance inspections.
CPOs Aren't the Only Cars With Maintenance Checklists
So CPOs have this specific inspection and maintenance program they have to pass, but that doesn't mean non-certified pre-owned vehicles don't. The dealer could put them through a rigorous inspection that just isn't advertised as well. An advantage to looking at non-certified cars is that they can be older and thus less expensive than CPOs. If you can find a dealer who puts these pre-owned cars through a tough inspection to ensure they run well, you can get a great deal.
Combine the Test Drive and Third-Party Inspection
Any time you buy a pre-owned car, you need to have another mechanic outside the dealership inspect it. Ask if you can combine your test drive with that check; in other words, can you drive the car over to your mechanic and back to see how it really handles on the road, rather than just driving it around for a few blocks that may or may not include a freeway. Not all dealerships let you do this, but if you can, then you get a sense of how well the car functions on an actual trip somewhere, and you get your mechanic to give it a thumbs up or down.
When you need a car and can't afford much, or when you want a good deal on a car, pre-owned is the best option because of the lower prices. Find a dealership that is tough on maintenance inspections like SZ Motor Cars for the best deal possible.