Are Certified Used Cars Really Up To Standards?
They seem to be ?all the rage?... auto dealerships everywhere are pitching the great benefits of ?Certified Pre-Owned Vehicles? --- they're claimed to be the best used cars money can buy. You see them featured on T.V. commercials, in newspapers, and on the ever-popular ?infomercials.?
True, these fine-looking cars are used --- but they sure don't look it. Auto dealership lots are often loaded with them. Row after row of these gleaming beauties, all lined-up and pretty, just begging you to drive one of them home.
They spend plenty of time prepping and polishing their inventories --- displaying well-maintained, great-looking cars that look good as new.
But with the myriad of inspection points, guidelines, policies and procedures, one has to wonder if all of these points are adhered to.
And does it really matter when buying a certified used car?
If you don?t mind paying thousands of dollars for a vehicle that has been repainted, wrecked or other wise not up to standards,then it shouldn?t matter to you.
But if you are like the majority of individuals who want to get their money?s worth, then consider the following questions.
Do the manufactures follow up to make sure these guidelines are adhered to?
Do some dealerships ?fudge? these standards?
Will the dealer actually sell as Certified when these standards are not met?
We have some answers for you, and it may surprise you.
We recently performed a mini inspection at a GM dealership, to see what we could uncover just by brief walk around.
During our brief walk through we found 5 late model vehicles that have been repainted to some degree, one 2005 Buick we suspect had major repaint work done, indicating this vehicle may have been in a collision. (Results and pictures posted on our web site--see the url in the byline)
We performed this walk through on a Sunday when the dealership was closed,we couldn?t raise the hood,trunk or open doors, otherwise we may have found more issues.
What?s even more surprising is that 3 of these vehicles were on their lot as being GM Certified.
Numerous reasons abound why this can and does happen, it?s not always a case of fruadulent intentions.
Typically a vehicle is inspected by a technician at the dealership, following the manufacturers certification guidelines,he reports any discrepanices to a used car or certfied pre owned manager. Who then decides to repair the vehicle and bring up to standards, or not to repair and sell as an uncertified vehicle.
Sometimes a repair shop gets so busy that the technician is backed up with work, maybe there are six CPO inspections to complete before 5:00pm. Because many technicians get paid a commission for each CPO inspection completed, the technician may rush through some of the inspections. Obviously, the quality of the inspections would suffer in such cases.
Another scenario; perhaps an unethical used car manager instructs a technician to ?look the other way?, regarding an inspection item like brakes. Maybe the brakes are in ?border-line? condition, and the manager believes he can get away with not replacing them, saving a few extra bucks of profit.
The buyer winds up with a CPO vehicle that is sub-standard, the worst part is, the used car buyer paid top dollar for a CPO vehicle, but didn't get one.
When ever a vehicle receives an undeserved CPO certification, the unknowing buyer of that vehicle may be left with serious, underlying mechanical problems.
One would like to think that the dealership will follow all the guidelines, policies and procedures, but the evidence above indicates otherwise.
The issue here is there is no way for the manufacturers to police (all of) these inspections and guidelines, the decision to sell as a Certifed vehicle is strictly left up to the dealership.
So what can consumers do to protect themselves?
Knowledge is Power, and it?s certainly true in your search for buying a quality used car.
Ask lots of questions. Tell the service manager or used car manager that you wish to see a copy of the CPO criteria --- like all the different areas of the car that they're required to check out.
Ask to see the CPO inspection sheet that was performed, and if any repairs were done. Find out the repair history of the vehicle and don't stop investigating until you're satisfied with the information you've received.
Lastly, make sure you are aware of the benefits of the manufacturer Certified Pre Owned program, what warranties are available, does the program allow for returning the vehicle after a number of days and or miles.
These steps may not protect you 100%, but at least you?ll have the knowledge to make a well informed buying decision.
About the Author: Jerry Christopher, owner http://www.usedcarwise.com. Helping consumers gain the knowledge needed to buy a quality used car.