Not Your Grandfather’s Used Car: Making the Switch to a Certified Pre-Owned Vehicle

Why get a certified pre-owned vehicle? A factory-backed limited warranty is a good place to start.

The following was produced in partnership with the Chevrolet, Buick, and GMC Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) program.

Buying a family vehicle is rarely on the top of your to-do-list, but it creeps up. Maybe your faithful old mobile woke up one day and decided not to run; your expanding family needs that extra seat; or you moved to the ‘burbs and your new two-car garage just looks so empty. No matter the reason, you’re off to start shopping, paralyzed by where to even begin. Before you go to the closest used car lot, first consider another option, one that can alleviate many more choices down this car-shopping path — the certified pre-owned vehicle.

The idea behind certified pre-owned (CPO) vehicles is simple: Later model, lower mileage used vehicles are put through an inspection process required by the manufacturer before they are certified. If they pass, they’re given the coveted CPO tag, ready for the discerning car buyer.

IMPORTANT RECALL INFORMATION: Before a Certified Pre-Owned vehicle is listed or sold, GM requires dealers to complete all safety recalls. However, because even the best processes can break down, we encourage you to check the recall status of any vehicle at or

Certified pre-owned has been around for decades — but recently the fan base has seen a lot of growth. Industry-wide, CPO sales have increased by 900,000 units over the last five years, with continued growth expected through 2020. Industry experts anticipate today’s digitally savvy and value-conscious used car shopper will continue to drive CPO growth.

“Today’s online used car shopper can browse more inventory than ever before,” says Steve Wineman, national marketing manager for General Motors’ Certified Pre-Owned vehicle program. “CPO is a great tool for consumers looking to narrow their search to higher-quality used vehicles.”

GM’s CPO program, which covers Chevrolet, Buick, and GMC vehicles, consists of an inspection and reconditioning process that is required by the carmaker and conducted by trained technicians who are charged with checking everything from the vehicle’s drivetrain to the windshield wipers. The cars are also road tested, and checked for underbody and frame damage, as well as major cosmetic flaws.

The very first step in GM’s certification process requires the dealer to pull a vehicle report on the automobile from CarFax or AutoCheck. That typically catches extensive damage caused by factors like a flood or an accident that immediately nixes the car’s potential to be certified. In the event there’s some discrepancy during the inspection, the dealer can contact CarFax or AutoCheck directly to dig deeper into the vehicle’s history. “If the dealer can’t confirm the vehicle has a clean history, our program doesn’t allow the vehicle to be certified,” says Wineman. Anything that is more than five years old or has more than 75,000 miles isn’t even considered.

Perhaps the biggest benefits of certified pre-owned are the 12-month/12,000-mile bumper-to-bumper limited warranty1, an extended 6-year/100,000-mile limited powertrain warranty2 with 24/7 roadside assistance3, and three months of Sirius XM satellite radio4 and the OnStar Guidance Plan5. All together, these benefits could cost you about $2,800 if you purchased them yourself.6

A GM CPO vehicle also includes two scheduled maintenance visits within 2 years/24,000 miles of vehicle delivery, whichever comes first (that doesn’t include air filters). Buyers are even allowed to exchange the vehicle for a different one within three days or 150 miles7 from purchase if they find that the first car just doesn’t pan out like they expected. (Limitations apply.) Talk to your dealer to get all the details.

Still, Wineman says that one of the biggest benefits for consumers when buying a GM Certified Pre-Owned vehicle is peace of mind. “When you drive off the lot with CPO vehicle, you are you are getting the peace of mind of a factory-backed limited warranty,” says Wineman. “You don’t get that kind of security with the typical used car.”

1 Whichever comes first, in addition to any remaining original factory Bumper-to-Bumper warranty. See participating dealer for limited warranty details.2 Whichever comes first, from original in-service date. See participating dealer for limited warranty details.3 During your powertrain limited warranty period, 6 years or 100,000 miles from new-vehicle delivery, whichever comes first. Roadside assistance provided by Allstate. See dealer for details.4 If you subscribe after your trial period, subscriptions are continuous until you call SiriusXM to cancel. See SiriusXM Customer Agreement for complete terms at Other fees and taxes will apply. All fees and programming subject to change.5 Visit for vehicle availability, details and system limitations. Services vary by model and conditions. Guidance Plan trial is for 3-months and excludes Hands-Free Calling minutes.6 $2,800 represents the national average value you get with a Certified Pre-Owned vehicle from Chevy, Buick, and GMC as compared with a non-certified vehicle.7 Whichever comes first. Vehicle exchange only. See dealer for details.