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Why That Certified Pre-Owned Car Might Still Be A Dud

A Preventative Maintenance Guide for CPO Car Shopping

Three simple words, ‘Certified Pre-Owned’, often seems to be enough validation for motorists in the market for an affordable second-hand car. The dilemma here is that buyers are often not aware of the previous owners’ preventative maintenance plan – if any at all, nor are they guaranteed the reliability of the car despite its warranty.

To make matters worse, a CPO vehicle is likely to be very difficult to return should unforeseen problems arise, as the CPO qualification has largely been used as a marketing tool by second-hand sellers and retailers who sell pre-owned vehicles at a higher price, simply because of this certification.

To understand the issue is to understand precisely what it means if a vehicle is classified as Certified Pre-Owned. Firstly, the check on the car is done by the dealer themselves and their mechanic. Readers can surely see the problem with that?

Furthermore, the CPO is not guaranteed as a warranty which many buyers are unaware of until it’s too late. Despite the CPO guarantee which often calms nervous buyers’ fears, it doesn’t really count for anything at all. Even if dealerships assure buyers that the vehicle in question went through multi-point checklists, it does not guarantee the longevity of the car.

Sadly, no buyer can ever be completely assured of the quality of the car they’re buying unless they’ve test-driven and checked themselves. Our experts at Foreign Affairs Motorsport have compiled a checklist that all second-hand car buyers should take with them when viewing second-hand cars:

  • Test the merchandise, and by this we mean literally. Take the car you’re eyeing for a test drive. If you’re going to spend a small fortune on something you’ll be using every day, you may as well know what you’re in for.
  • Take keen note of the car’s body parts. Is anything out of line? Does it look dented or rusted? If so, move on to the next option.
  • If there’s smoke there’s fire, right? Take note of the tailpipe. If smoke is emitting out of anywhere it shouldn’t be, count this one out.
  • Worn Interiors – you know what they say, “It’s what’s on the inside that counts”, and that certainly rings true for pre-owned vehicles.
  • 50 Shades of Grey? Take a good look under the hood and in the trunk for another paint color or shade, indicating a respray after a possible collision. Another collision indicator would be inconsistencies between the doors in relation to the body of the vehicle.
  • Think you struck gold? Probably not. If the financing deal seems too good to be true, even if you’re on a tight budget, chances are that’s because it is.
  • Tick Tock – check the odometer clock. We know on average that a car reaches around 10,000m per year. Use this and the car’s age as a guide to see if there’s a possibility the odometer has been tampered with.
  • Lack of history – we all come with baggage but in the case of a second-hand car, paperwork and service history is incredibly pertinent. If the dealer can’t seem to come up with the adequate paperwork or things seem a little off, they are.
  • FAMS do not sell cars, they will do a PPI for people who are purchasing a used BMW, Porsche, Audi or Mercedes, while the article is good it needs to focus on the PPI please adjust
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