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All cars go to car heaven no matter how much you love and maintain them. Saying goodbye to a vehicle you’ve owned for some time can be an emotional experience and can certainly generate an ounce or two of anxiety. However, once your nerves have calmed and you’ve mentally prepared to take the plunge on a new car, the next question you should ask yourself is, “Will I buy a new car or a used car?” Every year, used car sales outpace new car sales by about 2 to 1. In 2019, over 40 million used cars were bought and sold. But within the used car designation can lie a diamond in the rough. A well-known secret in the car industry is the CPO (certified pre-owned) vehicle. What is it, is there value in it or are you getting another used car sales pitch?
“BUYER BEWARE!” The argument against buying a used car is a broken record, conceived from time immemorial, evoking images of a greasy, fast-talking man attempting to con you into thinking there is nothing wrong with the overpriced car he’s shilling and one that has an implied life expectancy of a mile down the road. Now, while that may still hold true if you find yourself at a less-than-reputable establishment, a certified pre-owned vehicle that is inspected and given the stamp of approval by the manufacturer is a different story. For this example, let’s look at BMW’s certified program.
Since 1996, BMW has sold over 1.9 million certified cars. To qualify as such, a vehicle has to have fewer than 60,000 miles, must have genuine BMW parts, plus an up-to-date maintenance history. Each unit goes through a detailed 360-degree inspection done by a trained technician inspecting for safety, performance and wear, down to the subtle details. If it can’t be fixed to BMW’s standards, it cannot be a certified pre-owned BMW. After meeting the body and mechanical requirements, it then goes through a comprehensive road test by BMW experts using all BMW diagnostic equipment so it lives up to their reputation and your expectations.
- Comprehensive coverage for 12 months with unlimited miles after expiration of manufacturer’s original four-year/50,000-mile new vehicle warranty. Option for one additional year with unlimited miles
- 24-hour roadside assistance including: battery jump starts, tire changes, lock-out assistance, fuel delivery and even emergency tow to the nearest BMW dealer if your vehicle is disabled
- Service loaners or alternative transportation when serviced at any BMW dealer nationwide
- BMW Assist Safety Plan (on many late-model vehicles) offering emergency service assistance, collision detection, TeleService and BMW Assist eCall with a live specialist when help is needed
What about miles? Is there a warranty? For this exercise, say today you purchased a certified pre-owned 2020 BMW X5 with “X” miles. Depending on the in-service date, that vehicle could be covered until 2025 (2026, if opting for the extra year of coverage) no matter the miles put on by a second owner. Imagine driving worry-free for up to five years no matter how much driving you decide to do. What a value! On top of that, manufacturers tend to offer great financing deals on certified vehicles. Sometimes on par with new car rates.
Reliability should be one of your top priorities when buying a used car. In addition to buying the car you want, you also deserve to not have to experience issues and headaches like sudden mechanical failures and poor drivability. While certified programs vary from brand to brand, this type of program is a substantial upgrade from a run-of-the-mill used car with a run-of-the-mill used-car warranty that can range from the moment you drive off the lot to a paltry 30 days.
Whatever your next decision is, take time to look at all of the facts, preferably from a reputable dealer, so you can take the best course of action. Doing so will boost your confidence and give you peace of mind as you start making new memories in a new chapter in your driving life.