Shopping for Pre-Owned Vehicles
My girlfriend recently purchased a pre-owned Mercedes. It always makes me so happy when my friends ask me for some tips before they buy. This time it was a treat for me because it was a girlfriend asking and not her husband. She was fully involved in the purchase and seemed to be doing most of the research. They had picked out the car together and narrowed it down to the dealership that had the vehicle in stock and who would give them the best deal.
There are many benefits to purchasing a pre-owned vehicle, but there are also many things to be aware of when comparing against a new car. I sent her a list of things to keep in mind and ask about the car. She said the questions were helpful for her and so I’m sharing here for anyone else who may be interested.
Below are a few pros on purchasing a pre-owned vehicle and a list of questions to consider during your shopping process.
- Certified Pre-Owned warranty :
This is the big one because the number one concern when buying a used car is the current condition of the car and the warranty going forward. Most manufacturers now offer a Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) program on all their pre-owned vehicles. This means that the vehicle has gone through a list of reconditioning steps to be considered “Certified.” Once the car has been brought to a certain standard, it qualifies for a warranty from the manufacturer. It also may now qualify for CPO finance rates and terms. The manufacturer can offer the warranty and better rates because they now know the condition of the vehicle and have spent the money to bring it up to their standards. When I worked at Audi for example, I remember the vehicles that came back to the dealership after a lease would go through a three hundred point inspection to bring the car to CPO standards and be placed on the pre-owned lot to sell. This is also the big differentiating factor between a used car from a dealership and a used car lot or a privately sold car. The dealership has spent the money on conditioning the car (changed tires, brakes, fixed exterior dents, etc) and then can add the CPO warranty.
As a new owner, you can be sure that the car is in good condition and have peace of mind that it also has a warranty.
Refer below for further questions to ask the dealer about the CPO warranty and condition of the car.
Some brands hold their value longer than others, but generally speaking, new cars cost more, and they depreciate faster. Why is that you ask? When buying a new car, you are purchasing the overall convenience, service, NEW factor, and all the glitz and glamour in that price tag. It’s hard to put a value on that new car smell and feel, but it’s estimated at a million bucks, and it carries a very personal sense of validation and high. A pre-owned car, on the other hand, is “used” and the price tag generally accommodates that term too. The word used itself has such a negative connotation and marketing experts could only come up with “pre-owned” as an alternative to make the purchase more desirable.
Hey, why not call it the RIGHT car. It’s the right car for you because it costs less.
If your budget is 30k for a new car, you may only be able to get a base model with minimum features. However, if you put the 30k towards the RIGHT vehicle, you may be able to get a used car with more features and get more bang for your buck. Every dealership is different, and every deal is different, but there is more room for negotiations on a pre-owned vehciel. See questions below on where to ask the dealer for more “stuff.”
Some of these questions may come up in conversation when discussing a pre-owned car with a sale rep at a dealership.
Is the vehicle coming off a lease?
If yes - was it leased through that dealership / was it serviced there? (ask to see service records)
If no - where is the car from/Where was it serviced?
If it has gone through the Certification
Did the tires need to be changed?
Were the brakes done?
(Tire and brakes are the big expensive wear and tear items that you want to make sure have been taken care of)
When was the last service on the car (when was the oil changed)
When is the next service appointment and is it a big one
(depending on the service interval, it could be a small service (just oil and filters), or it can be a big service (tire rotations, and such) the big service is more expensive. so depending on where the vehicle is on its service interval, you can negotiate the next service in your deal.
What does it include?
(This is very important! Make sure you understand the warranty that you are paying "extra" for)
Is it just powertrain or will it cover parts and labor?
Is it a third-party warranty or is it from the manufacturer. Sometimes, the 3rd party warranties are just as good if not better than the manufacturers' warranty. It’s just a matter of understanding what you are paying for.
Ask lots of questions so you understand fully what would be covered if you had an issue.
Does it cover electrical?
If it has a navigation system- when were the maps updated?
Can they do an update for you? (it's usually expensive - so they may say no)
Does it have winter mats?
Does it have winter tires? - can they help you with a set of winter tires
If you want to get winter tires of course - that's up to you
Buying a car is exciting and whether or not it’s a brand new car doesn’t matter because it will be a new car for you.
Good luck and enjoy the process.
Let me know if you have any specific questions.
I also came across these Pre-Owned ads and thought I would share.
Same wording used by different manufacturers. I doubt these would be acceptable today. ha!
So then I thought I would make my own Pre-Owned ad for Tesla. What do you think?