Used Cars vs. Certified Pre-Owned

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Certified pre-owned vehicles can offer great benefits, but consumers pay a premium for peace of mind, which may not be necessary. (KFSN)

So you're in the market to buy a car, but a new one is out of the question.

You'll have to choose between a certified pre-owned (CPO) vehicle or a used one.

Manufacturers offer CPO vehicles as more affordable alternatives to new models. They usually have lower mileage, fewer defects or needed repairs than a typical used car. Protected by a manufacturer's extended warranty, they go through inspections and history checks for potential maintenance issues before they can be certified. Some also offer roadside assistance, free satellite radio, and discounted finance rates on loans.

These are all great benefits, but consumers pay a premium for peace of mind, which may not be necessary.

LINK: Consumer Reports - The Truth About Certified Pre-Owned Cars

Enter non-certified used cars.

Easier on your wallet, a regular used car can cost you a lot less than it's CPO equivalent.

With a little more legwork on your part, Consumer Reports says it could end up being a better value.

To help guide your search, Consumer Reports offers a list of the most reliable used cars.

LINK: Consumer Reports list of most reliable used cars

Once you find a car that you like, check the vehicle identification number (VIN) against online databases. AutoCheck or Carfax can help check for past accidents (although a clean history report is not a guarantee that the vehicle has never been in an accident). Checking the VIN at the government's safercar.gov website allows you to check for open recalls.

Most importantly, find a trusted mechanic who can inspect the car for any hidden damages, or repairs that may be necessary.

This do-it-yourself approach could save you money, and be all the certification you'll need.
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