How to Decide if Buying Certified Pre-Owned Is Right for You

December 10th, 2021 by

A popular certified pre-owned Nissan, a red 2020 Nissan Rogue, is shown parked on a suburban street.

If you’re in the market for a quality used vehicle, you have plenty of great options. At some point during your search, you may have heard the phrase Certified Pre-Owned Nissan before, but you never really understood what it meant. A Certified Pre-Owned – or CPO – vehicle is one that has endured a rigorous factory-mandated inspection. Vehicles that earn the CPO badge meet stringent criteria and come with extra buyer perks.

There’s a difference between a CPO vehicle and a typical used vehicle, namely the specific criteria CPO cars must meet. It doesn’t mean that used cars without a CPO badge are deficient, but a CPO car comes with additional advantages not typically found on a traditional used car. Because of this, sometimes buying a CPO vehicle makes more sense than buying new or settling on a used vehicle.

As you prepare to sift through your many options, it helps to understand the benefits of CPO ownership. Before you commit, you should know that because these cars receive more scrutiny, they tend to be priced higher than other used cars. The question you should ask, then, is whether the assurances that come along with buying a CPO vehicle are worth the extra cost.

What Exactly Is a CPO Vehicle?

Certified Pre-Owned Nissan cars, trucks, vans, and SUVs are recent model year used cars with fewer than 80,000 miles on the odometer. To qualify, they must be six model years old or newer, have a clean title, and pass Nissan’s comprehensive 167-point inspection. The inspection covers every square inch of the vehicle, both inside and out. The Nissan CPO program originates at the factory. It was designed by Nissan to help customers easily identify the highest quality used Nissan vehicles, and the quality guarantee continues at participating Nissan dealers like Thomas Nissan, who, incidentally, are the professionals responsible for performing the certification inspection.

Most CPO inventory consists of low mileage off-lease vehicles. With the typical consumer lease lasting just three years, these vehicles are practically brand new. Most lease agreements contain mileage restrictions of 10,000 to 15,000 per year, so most lease returns have fewer than 50,000 miles on the odometer. That’s well within the 80,000-mile limit dictated by Nissan. Finally, leased vehicles come with clear wear-and-tear guidelines that impose financial penalties on lessors who return their vehicles with excess damage.

In short, a CPO Nissan is the cream-of-the-crop of available used vehicles, and they can only be found at authorized Nissan dealerships, like Thomas Nissan. The best part about buying a CPO vehicle is that Nissan’s financing arm, Nissan Motor Acceptance Company, often provides CPO buyers with special financing rates that rival those typically found on new vehicles.

A mechanic is shown performing an inspection for a certified pre-owned Nissan car.

The Many Perks of Buying a CPO Car

Buying a CPO vehicle isn’t just a practical decision; it’s also a financially prudent one. Sure, the car may cost more than a typical used car, but the ownership benefits easily compensate for the difference. CPO Nissan vehicles come with a 7-year/100,000-mile limited powertrain warranty that covers all major components, including the engine and transmission.

In addition, Nissan throws in 84 months/100,000 miles of Roadside Assistance coverage. The service covers a whole host of inconvenient issues, from empty fuel tanks to flat tires and even dead batteries. The program can even cover the cost of a rental car and provide/reimburse towing assistance. It’s added peace of mind that most used car buyers won’t receive.

Also, CPO cars come with a free CARFAX Vehicle History Report. It contains information on the number of owners, as well as any accidents or insurance claims filed since its in-service date. The CARFAX report verifies mileage and can even track all service and maintenance it received. CARFAX also provides a 3-Year Buyback Guarantee on all CPO Nissan vehicles.

Also, your CPO car was subjected to a comprehensive 167-point inspection by a qualified Nissan technician. Every inch of every potential CPO vehicle is carefully inspected to ensure there is no excessive wear, no outstanding factory recalls, and no defective parts. The vehicle is also thoroughly detailed, and some buyers even report they can still catch a whiff of that new car smell.

CPO: The Next-Best Alternative to Buying New

All used car buyers should take comfort knowing that, CPO badge or not, any used vehicle for sale on our lot is the highest possible quality. The decision to buy a CPO vehicle simply offers additional benefits not guaranteed on a non-CPO used car, like the longer powertrain warranty and the factory-mandated mileage and model year requirements.

Also, buying CPO is a more cost-effective way to end up with a car that still has factory warranty coverage. Of course, new vehicles carry the most comprehensive factory warranties, but the powertrain warranty and Roadside Assistance coverage that comes along with a CPO car offers similar protections. And the advantage of buying any used car is you won’t have to absorb the first few years of depreciation.

CPO buyers universally remark that their “new” vehicle might as well have just come off the assembly line. That’s because of the thorough detailing CPO cars receive on the inside and out. Even the engine and undercarriage are thoroughly cleaned and detailed. The result is a car that looks practically new at a substantially lower price than what you’ll find on the sticker.

The last and most unexpected benefit of choosing a CPO car is that buyers can often purchase a higher trim level or even graduate to a larger body style than they could normally afford if they were buying new. It’s enjoyable to slide behind the wheel of a vehicle with leather seating and a multi-function infotainment touchscreen, especially when you weren’t expecting to be able to afford it.

A salesman is shown speaking to a customer about a certified pre-owned Nissan.

Finding the Right CPO Vehicle

If you’re convinced that a CPO car is the best solution, the next step is to search available inventory and find the model and trim that best fits your lifestyle and budget. Also, because Nissan frequently offers special finance rates for select CPO inventory, check to see if the vehicle you want qualifies.

The good news is that because leasing has exploded in popularity, there is a constant influx of high-quality CPO vehicles hitting the showroom floor. If you don’t see the exact vehicle you want, chances are your salesperson knows of a customer whose lease is about to end. Working together, you can time your purchase ideally for you and end up with the perfect vehicle.

CPO vehicles are in high demand because of their exceptional quality guarantee. Some buyers hesitate to shop for a used vehicle without knowing its history, which makes sense because the used marketplace is filled with lemons and unscrupulous sellers. There are plenty of excellent non-CPO used cars to be found, but consider shopping CPO to shortcut the vetting process.

Peace-of-mind is high on the list of any used car buyer. It’s no wonder since even when you buy used, purchasing a car is a big investment. You want to be as sure as you can be that the car you take home is as advertised. Not only are CPO vehicles as good as advertised, but the stringent quality guidelines they have to meet coupled with the thorough inspection they undergo combine to offer as close to a guarantee as you can find.