auto

Checking out used-car certification programs

A manufacturer's certification can up the price of a used car, truck or sports utility vehicle by $1,500 to $2,000 and sometimes more. The vehicles are subjected to extensive inspections and reconditioning aimed at bringing them up to new-car standards.

Not sure if a certified, used vehicle is worth the extra cash? Here are some tips for evaluating an auto manufacturer's certified pre-owned program.

The two most important aspects of any certification program are its warranty protections and vehicle-inspection procedures.

In the past few years, several major manufacturers including Honda, Lincoln, Ford, Mercury, Volkswagen, Volvo and Audi have pumped up the warranty protections on certified vehicles.

Most luxury brands offer two years of additional warranty to certified used-car buyers. The warranties on other brands vary widely. Shop carefully.

Many programs tack on an additional warranty, say, 12 months/12,000 miles, after the new-car warranty expires. This type of warranty would work best on a late model used car, which still had a good portion of its original warranty.

A few programs offer a warranty starting from the date you purchase the certified vehicle. The clock starts ticking on this type of warranty immediately and may overlap with some of the original warranty left on the car. This type of coverage would work best on an older car, which is no longer under its original warranty.

Other programs offer an extended warranty on certified vehicles starting from the original date of purchase and zero odometer reading. An example would be a warranty for 60 months/75,000 miles. This type of warranty would work well on a newer vehicle with low mileage.

Each manufacturer has its own vehicle inspections procedures. Most list details of their inspection process on their Web sites.

Be sure to ask a dealer to show you the inspections list of the vehicle you're interested in. You may be able to learn what specific repairs were made.

You can compare inspection standards and warranties from different manufacturers on the Intellichoice Web site. An online tool lets you compare three certification programs at a time. Intellichoice has been ranking certified, pre-owned programs since 1999.

 

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