Can You Buy CPO Cars from Independent Dealers?
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Can You Buy CPO Cars from Independent Dealers?

By Autolist Editorial | February 1, 2020

Maybe, you're thinking about buying a car to replace the one you have or need a second car for the family. Of course, new cars are expensive and depreciate almost as soon as you drive them off the lot. This makes it a good idea to buy a used car with low mileage and only a couple of years old. Surely, you've heard of manufacturer CPO cars, but you wonder if independent dealerships can sell them too. Here are some things you need to know.

What Is a Manufacturer CPO Car?

A manufacturers COP is a certified previously owned car, and the manufacturer, such as Honda, Toyota, Ford and others, certified that the car is in good condition. Most of these cars are low mileage and less than five to seven years old. Many dealerships also provide a CarFax report on CPO cars. Each manufacturer has its own guidelines as to age and mileage, so it's a good idea to look over the manufacturer's program before buying a CPO vehicle.

The manufacturers check specific mechanical systems and ensure the car is in great condition before offering it up as a manufacturer CPO. For the most part, the certifications are done at the dealership for that manufacturer. For example, you can't a Mazda CPO car at a Honda dealership. After checking specific mechanics in the car, the manufacturer dealership may make small repairs as part of the certification program. Most manufacturer dealerships pay a fee for the used cars that become part of the CPO program. The goal is to give a buyer — you — peace of mind that you're getting a quality used car that doesn't breakdown as soon as you drive it off the lot. There are other benefits as well.

These cars come with a CPO warranty against problems and repairs needed by the vehicle within a certain timeframe and a specific allotment of miles. If the car still has an original manufacturer warranty covering it, both warranties tend to run concurrently. Once again, these programs vary by manufacturer so it's beneficial to check with the dealership before buying.

The manufacturer CPO vehicle may include other benefits beyond the warranty. This might include roadside assistance or a free loaner vehicle if the car needs repairs. Others might offer upgrades, such as free satellite radio.

When you need work done on your manufacturer CPO vehicle, you can have it done at any of the manufacturer's dealerships. For example, if you bought a Honda CPO car in Atlanta and then moved to Oklahoma City, you could take the car to a Honda dealership in Oklahoma City for repairs.

Independent Dealership

So, no, an independent dealer can't sell you a manufacturer CPO car. However, there is one exception. If a car had a CPO warranty that hasn't expired yet, it would go with the car. For instance, Alan bought a CPO Honda Accord, kept for three months and then traded it in for the Porsche of his dreams at an independent dealership. You go to the same independent dealership and buy that CPO Honda Accord. You get any remaining benefits of the CPO warranty.

Some independent dealerships can sell you an additional warranty on their used cars. The benefits and costs of these policies vary greatly. It's beneficial to do your research and know exactly what you're getting in an extended warranty before you purchase it. When you purchase a used car from an independent dealership, you want to ask what if any inspections and testing they've done on the vehicle.

Extended Warranty

A used car doesn't have to be a CPO to have an extended warranty or breakdown insurance. Many independent dealerships can sell you an extended warranty on a used car. However, these aren't coming from the factory or manufacturer but from a third party company who sells the policy and who coordinates any needed repairs. You will have to pay for an extended warranty from an independent dealership, whereas the CPO vehicle has the cost of the warranty already built into the final price.

Extended warranties offer a variety of choices for coverage and cost. If you're buying a used car and an extended warranty, you might want to do your research. Before buying the car and warranty, go online and look for reviews of the extended warranty company. If you find many pleased customers and only one or two angry clients, it might be a case of sour grapes. Carefully read over the extended warranty to learn the details of covered repairs and ones that aren't covered. There are some aftermarket warranties out there that are as good as the CPO warranties if you take your time and do your research. There are also other options for buying a good certified used car.

Certified Rental Cars

You might not think of a rental car as a possible used car but rental car agencies often sell their used cars to the public. Many of these cars are only a few years old but may have high mileage. Many car rental programs run their own certification program for selling their used cars to the public.

As an example, it's believed that Hertz, a popular car rental company, uses Pep Boys to do a certification and complete any repairs needed before offering the car to the public. Hertz's certification warranty is 12 months or 12,000 miles, whichever comes first. Of course, if the car's factory warranty is still good, then this warranty runs at the same time, but most repairs are done by the manufacturer.

In addition to the warranty, Hertz offers other incentives to buy one of their used cars. They offer towing, car rentals and roadside assistance so your used car is covered no matter where you roam. Many of the large car rental agencies have similar programs to certify their used cars. It's beneficial to do a little research and ask lots of questions before buying one of these certified used cars.

When it comes to used cars, you want to buy one that you can rely on. A manufacturer CPO car can provide some peace of mind and a warranty against future needed repairs. However, while independent dealerships can't sell you a manufacturer CPO vehicle, they can offer similar warranties. Car rental agencies work hard to ensure their used cars are safe and reliable at the time of the purchase