What is the Difference Between a Used Vehicle and a Manufacturer Certified Pre-Owned Vehicle?

May 30th, 2018 by

What is the difference between a used vehicle and a Certified Pre-Owned vehicle?

Used vehicles often come with a lot of doubt, especially if you’re buying from a private seller. Did the previous owner keep up on maintenance? Are you spending too much for a car that hasn’t been well-taken-care-of? Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) vehicles give drivers added peace of mind when buying a used vehicle. Unlike a used vehicle you might buy from a private seller, Certified Pre-Owned Vehicles must meet certain requirements and conditions before they can even be put on the lot. While each manufacturer is different, Toyota Certified Used Vehicles (TCUV), for example, must be less than six years old, have less than 85,000 miles on their odometer and must pass a rigorous 160-point inspection. The best new cars make the best used cars, which is why CPO vehicles have mileage and quality requirements that used vehicles are not required to meet. Certified Pre-Owned vehicles are reconditioned by the manufacturer to look and feel as new as possible, allowing you to drive off the lot confident in your CPO purchase.

Are all Certified Pre-Owned vehicles backed by the manufacturer?

While manufacturer Certified Pre-Owned vehicles are (obviously) backed by the manufacturer, beware of dealership-specific CPO programs. Many dealerships claim to have their own dealership-specific certified used vehicles which are not backed by the manufacturer, but solely backed by the dealership in which the vehicle was sold from. For example, Toyota’s 24-hour roadside assistance is honored at all 1,400 dealerships in U.S. and Canada, however, other dealerships will not honor roadside assistance on vehicles that are “dealership certified”. These dealership-specific Certified Pre-Owned vehicles can come with a lot of “fine print” which could lead to issues in the long run. If you’re looking into a Certified Pre-Owned vehicle, make sure it is a manufacturer CPO vehicle. 

Why do CPOs cost more than used cars?

Warranties are one of the biggest perks of CPO vehicles. While these warranties vary by manufacturer, TCUV’s come standard with a 12 month/12,000 mile limited comprehensive warranty1 as well as a 7 year/100,000 mile limited powertrain warranty.2 Many CPO programs come with additional benefits such as roadside assistance, extensive CARFAX reports and more.

Should I buy a CPO vehicle?

Certified Pre-Owned vehicles come with many perks that won’t be available from private sellers or on non-CPO used vehicles, but they might not be the best option for every car-buyer. If you’re searching for a very specific vehicle, trim level, color, etc. buying a Certified Pre-Owned may not be the easiest option. However, if you’re searching for a “like-new” vehicle with low mileage and extended warranty coverage without spending a small fortune, a CPO car might be the best option for you.


1. Whichever comes first from date of Toyota Certified Used Vehicle purchase. The Limited Comprehensive Warranty covers any repair or replacement of components which fail under normal use due to defect in materials or workmanship. (Program not available in Hawaii.)
2. Whichever comes first from original date of first use when sold as new. See your Toyota Certified Used Vehicles dealer for warranty details. Program not available in Hawaii. For AL, FL, GA, NC & SC, warranty coverage differs in the following ways: 7-year or 100,000-mile Toyota Certified Limited Powertrain Warranty coverage begins on January 1st of the vehicle’s model year and zero (0) odometer miles and expires at the earlier of seven years or 100,000 odometer miles.