Why Buy Certified?

What's the advantage of buying a certified pre-owned vehicle?

Less risk. A certified vehicle is more likely to provide long-term ownership satisfaction. In other words, a certified pre-owned would be more reliable, less prone to mechanical problems, and an overall better buy than a non-certified vehicle.
In our view, a certification program is very much like a quality assurance program for pre-owned vehicles.

According to Wikipedia: Quality assurance, or QA for short, refers to planned and systematic processes that provide confidence of a product's or service's effectiveness.

Additionally, quality assurance is a standard for meeting customer requirements. It documents how a company will meet the requirements of a client or customer in a systematic, reliable fashion. It shows a company's commitment to delivering quality products and services to the purchaser.

What else should I know before buying certified?

Not all Certification Programs are equal.

When comparing certification programs, be sure…

…it is a legitimate program.

Many dealers claim to sell "Certified Pre-Owned" vehicles. They may inspect the vehicle themselves, and even put an aftermarket service contract on the vehicle to protect themselves and you against future mechanical failures. We think that's a good thing, but it doesn't go far enough. In the absence of clear, written standards, this type of certification is meaningless.

…it has clear, well-defined parameters.

We believe that one of the most important factors in a certification program is that the inspection and its results be replicable. In other words, a well-designed program should produce uniform results from one inspector to another—across town, or across the country. Whether the vehicle is inspected in Topeka or Topanga, by two or twenty mechanics, the same car should produce the same results. That is the mark of a well-designed, objective process.

…the inspection is an honest appraisal of the vehicle's condition.

Much of the value of any type of certification program is in the process itself. In fact, the results must be objective and unbiased to have any value at all. We believe that only a disinterested third party should do the inspections. You wouldn't think much of the FDA if they allowed the butcher to inspect and approve his own meat. You shouldn't be willing to accept that sort of quasi-legitimate program when spending thousands of dollars for a vehicle.

Above all, to ensure objectivity and maintain program integrity, the inspector should not be:

a) Employed by the manufacturer
b) Employed by the selling dealer
c) A local repair shop contracted by the dealer or
d) A relative or friend of the selling dealer.

There are simply too many opportunities and too much incentive to "fudge" the inspection results; it's a "fox watching the chicken coop" type of arrangement.

Use this checklist to compare certification programs:

Program A: _________________________________ (Name)
Program B: _________________________________ (Name)
Program C: _________________________________ (Name)

Inspections performed by an independent, 3rd-party inspector.

The inspector is NOT a dealership employee, or a local repair shop paid by the dealer. If you knew the seller well enough to trust them completely, you wouldn't need a certification at all, would you? (That is a trick question. You should take the same the same precautions regardless. After all, it's your money, and mistakes do happen.)

"Certification" program is more than just a dealer checklist and a warranty.

Be careful—this one's all too common. Most non-manufacturer certification programs are really service contracts in disguise. A dealer uses a checklist provided by a service contract company, and is on the honor system to perform the inspection. Once the vehicle passes inspection (guess how many "fail"), the dealer gives you (or sells you) an ordinary service contract that is virtually identical to the one he sells without the "certification". Often, this type of certification program costs more and offers less protection than a service contract alone. Don't be fooled—these programs fall far short of a true certification process.

Includes a Scientific Fluid Analysis of the engine and transmission fluids¹.

This proven, time-tested and extremely accurate process reveals hidden problems no mechanic can uncover. It employs state-of-the-art equipment under controlled, laboratory conditions, and examines engine and transmission fluid for signs of contaminants and wear metals.

The list of companies and organizations who use this science routinely is long, but includes among others, NASCAR, the U.S. Marines, the Israeli Army, GM, Ford, Chrysler, NASA, Kenworth, Peterbilt, International Trucks, Cummins, Hyundai, Nissan, Freightliner, etc. Click here for a complete list…

Includes a CARFAX Vehicle History Report™, and qualifies for the CARFAX Buyback Guarantee™

CARFAX® has the most comprehensive vehicle history database available in North America and is the leading source of vehicle history information for buyers and sellers of used car. If the CARFAX Report fails to include a DMV-issue branded title, CARFAX® may buy the vehicle back for full purchase price.*

Choice of components inspected

You'll be spending thousands of dollars for that vehicle—is "150+ points" good enough, or should you look for a certification that inspects virtually every major system of your vehicle—in-depth? It's your money—you decide.

Every year, Make, and Model eligible for certification—no exclusions

If the certification program includes a truly thorough and accurate inspection, why wouldn't a company be willing to certify any car? A Rolls-Royce or Bentley may cost more than a Hyundai, but they all have engines, transmissions, and hundreds of other components in common. Are the inspectors only qualified to inspect less-expensive vehicles? What are they afraid of? Is the certification program an honest look at the vehicle, or just another marketing ploy?

Program recognized nationwide

Buying online? Wouldn't it be nice to know that your vehicle's certification results are exactly what you'd expect if you had the vehicle inspected in your own backyard?

Complete set of reports available online for your review

Make certain you see for yourself—don't take the seller's word for the certification results. Take the time to read and understand the information contained in the certification documents. A good program will have complete, easy to understand reports.

At a minimum, you should look for actual notes from the inspector, a list of every component inspected, a condition report for interior and exterior of the vehicle, and photos. If the results aren't published and readily available, ask yourself why.

How did your programs compare?

A quality certification program should include all of the above—eight (8) checkmarks.

8 checkmarks

6-7 checkmarks

4-5 checkmarks

2-3 checkmarks

1 checkmark

0 checkmarks

Excellent! Good choice.

An above average program. Not bad, but you can do better.

Hey, it's your money. Do you feel lucky?

Are you kidding? Line up all the vehicles you're considering. Close your eyes and point. Now, open your eyes. You should buy that one. Your odds will be better.

Make sure the vehicle looks good being towed. You're likely to see it from that perspective quite often.

Still considering the vehicle? Forget about it. You're the one who should be certified—certified insane.

*See complete terms & conditions (http://www.carfax.com/manifest/bbg/termsConditions.cfx)