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

Used cars on a lot


If you’re shopping for a fresh set of wheels for your Bellaire travels, you may feel overwhelmed by the number of options you have to explore. Here at Serra Traverse City, we understand that confusion and are here to help you find your next ride! While new cars offer tons of benefits, you may prefer to keep a more modest car budget. If that’s the case, then you have two primary options; CPO vs. Used. But what is the difference between used and certified pre-owned? Read on below with our team to get all the pre-owned car shopping information you need!

CPO vs. Used: Used Car Shopping Facts

Used vehicles are cars that have had at least one previous owner. From there, used cars can range significantly in terms of mileage, number of previous owners, and condition. Because of this, used cars are more affordable than new ones. In fact, we even offer a selection of used cars for sale under $10k to help you keep your car bill at a comfortable level.

While you may have steered away from a high-mileage car in the past, the truth is that many vehicles can last for hundreds of thousands of miles with routine maintenance and proper care. It’s still important to remember:

  • Standard used cars are not required to be inspected before they are sold. While dealer groups like Serra Traverse City can be trusted to vet each model we sell, other dealerships and private sellers should be met with honest skepticism. Make sure to have a trusted mechanic inspect any vehicle you intend to buy on the private market!
  • If your inspection uncovers issues, make sure you factor the repairs into your budget. From there, you’ll want to negotiate based on those new costs. 
  • Many cars can last 200,000 miles or more, so a high-mileage option can be great if you’re on a tight budget.

CPO vs. Used: CPO Shopping Facts

Now that we’ve firmly established the basics of shopping used, the time is right to answer the question, “What is the difference between used and certified pre-owned?” While technically used, CPO models are held to higher standards and must meet certain requirements. Only the best of the best can become certified since all CPO cars are used, but not all used cars are CPO!

Each manufacturer that offers a CPO program has a unique list of requirements for vehicles and various benefits for drivers to enjoy. While each OEM will differ, the following offers a general overview of what to expect from your CPO vehicle:

  • Model year is within five years of the current model year
  • Often less than 80,000 miles, sometimes up to 100,000 miles 
  • A multi-point inspection
  • Offered with extended warranties and/or limited powertrain warranties

Shop for Pre-Owned Vehicles at Serra Traverse City

Now that you understand the nuances of shopping for a used car, the time is right to take a test drive. Our Serra Traverse City team offers new models from seven different brands and pre-owned options from across the automotive industry. No matter what you’re looking for in your next ride, we have the inventory you need to boost your commute from Kalkaska to Lake City. Apply for financing to get started, or contact us to learn more.

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Serra Traverse City 44.735181, -85.594550.