Blog Certified Pre-Owned Cars (CPO)

May 14, 2024

What does a Certified Pre-Owned car mean?

couple buying red car

There is a hidden gem in the automotive market that is often overlooked: Certified Pre-Owned cars.

When it comes to owning a car, the appeal of a brand-new vehicle is hard to resist. The new car smell, the spotless appearance, and the latest technology can be alluring. However, if you’re looking to find an affordable used car, you may want to consider Certified Pre-Owned.

These vehicles have unique stories and histories, offering a range of benefits that make them an attractive option for many buyers who are in the market for a buying a used car.

Below, we explore what makes a Certified Pre-Owned vehicle, the benefits and where you can buy one.

Three main takeaways about Certified Pre-Owned vehicles in Canada:

  • Certified Pre-Owned cars go through rigorous testing to meet high standards set out by the manufacturer to meet the criteria. In turn, you get a higher quality pre-loved vehicle.
  • The vehicles often come with additional benefits such as extended warranties, maintenance packages, or financing options.
  • Older, high-mileage cars not eligible for CPO status are cheaper but have minimal to no warranty coverage and a shorter lifespan. While it may seem like a good deal, it's important to consider the long-term costs and benefits before purchasing.

What’s on this page

What is a Certified Pre-Owned car?
What’s the difference between a Certified Pre-Owned and a used car?
Benefits of a Certified Pre-Owned vehicle
What is the process of certifying Pre-Owned cars?
Where can I buy a Certified Pre-Owned car in Canada?
Certified Pre-Owned vehicle FAQs

What is a Certified Pre-Owned car?

A pre-owned vehicle is one that has previously been owned by someone else. Not all used cars are Certified Pre-Owned Vehicles (CPO), but all Certified Pre-Owned Vehicles are used cars. Consumers who want the confidence, reliability, and security of a new vehicle warranty with the savings of a used vehicle typically purchase these cars.

To sell a car as Certified Pre-Owned, the vehicle must undergo a thorough inspection and meet certain age and mileage requirements set out by the manufacturer.

Keep in mind that not all programs are identical - they may vary in terms of features, benefits, and support offered depending on the provider. As a result, it's highly recommended that you conduct thorough research before selecting a program to ensure that it meets your requirements.

What’s the difference between a Certified Pre-Owned and a used car?

Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) vehicles are used cars that have been inspected, refurbished, and certified by a manufacturer or other certifying authority. They provide buyers with extra security and value-added benefits. Used vehicles that are not certified do not have to meet these high standards.

Some of the benefits can include:

  • Multi-point quality and safety inspection
  • Enriched and extended warranties
  • Car maintenance programs
  • Options for reduced financing or lease
  • Roadside assistance
  • Vehicle trade-in or exchange
  • Vehicle history reporting

Vehicle history reports play a crucial role in Certified Pre-Owned programs throughout Canada. For example, when you receive a CARFAX report, you get immediate access to the car's history, including details on any past accidents, registrations, branding, lien information, odometer readings, police records, and more.

car sales man with a male buyer

Benefits of a Certified Pre-Owned vehicle

If a dealer offers you a CPO vehicle, it means they have invested additional time and resources to ensure that the vehicle complies with the program requirements. This additional effort translates to a higher CPO vehicle cost than a non-certified vehicle.

However, it also means that you get more out of the program. The program provides a consumer with greater peace of mind, knowing that the vehicle has undergone a widespread inspection and safety process and is covered through an extended warranty.

With a CPO car, there are many benefits that make it worth the slightly higher price, such as:

  • Additional warranty: In addition to the standard new vehicle warranty, most manufacturers also provide limited bumper-to-bumper coverage and an extended powertrain warranty of one or two years.
  • Roadside assistance: Most brands offer complimentary 24/7 emergency roadside assistance for a year if your CPO breaks down.
  • Exchange period: With many programs, you have a grace period to exchange the car within a week or two if you are not satisfied.
  • Lower financing rates: When you purchase a CPO, you can often get lower rates than what's available from a bank, which saves you money on interest charges.
  • Extra perks: Sometimes, when you buy a certified pre-owned vehicle, you may receive complimentary access to SiriusXM radio or an online CARFAX vehicle history report.

You should weigh this information against your budget and how you intend to use the vehicle to determine if a CPO program is suitable for you. If you opt for a Certified Pre-Owned car, you may have to pay a little more for it, but you are less likely to face issues and additional maintenance costs.

What is the process of certifying Pre-Owned cars?

When a dealer acquires a used car, it is thoroughly inspected by a factory-certified mechanic. If the vehicle meets the standards, it undergoes reconditioning and is then sold as a Certified Pre-Owned vehicle.

They come in two types:

  • Dealer-certified cars are authorized by the dealership according to their own standards.
  • Manufacturer-certified cars meet specific requirements set forth by the carmaker. The manufacturer establishes criteria nationwide, ensuring the same quality of CPO cars is met at every dealership.

Every manufacturer and dealership/retailer sets its own quality criteria to determine which vehicles enter their program. Here are some examples:

  • To qualify, a Ford CPO vehicle must be under 6 years of age and have less than 120,000km on the odometer. It must also pass a 172-point comprehensive inspection to receive the certification. In addition, the vehicle offers a comprehensive limited warranty, 24/7 Roadside Assistance, and more.
  • Lexus CPO must pass a 175-point inspection, offer lease and finance options, extended warranty and exchange privileges up to 10 days or 1,500 km.
  • Honda CPO vehicles must be within the past six model years, pass a 100-point inspection, and offer a powertrain warranty and exchange privilege.
  • Hyundai Promise Certified Pre-Owned vehicles come with 365 days of 24-hour Roadside Assistance and must pass a 120-point inspection to qualify.

Be sure to check the manufacturer's websites before committing so you know that all the benefits are included with your vehicle.

Where can I buy a Certified Pre-Owned car in Canada?

In Canada, you can purchase Certified Pre-Owned vehicles from a variety of sources, such as:

  • Dealerships: Many authorized dealerships offer programs for their respective brands. These programs typically include rigorous inspections and certification processes, offering added peace of mind.
  • Online: Websites such as and are a couple of options that list CPO vehicles from dealerships and private sellers across the country. You can search for certified pre-owned cars based on your preferences and location.
  • Manufacturers: Most major car manufacturers have their own certified pre-owned programs, including used vehicles meeting specific age, mileage, and condition criteria. You can find listings and participating dealerships by visiting the official websites of the brands you are considering.
  • Independent dealerships: Some independent used car dealerships may offer programs providing inspections and warranties, even if they are not affiliated with specific manufacturers.

If you plan to buy a Certified Pre-Owned car, it's important to ask about the certification process, warranty coverage, additional benefits, and the vehicle's history report. Additionally, it's recommended to carefully inspect the car and take it for a test drive before making a final decision.

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Certified Pre-Owned vehicle FAQs

You can usually finance a Certified Pre-Owned car. Some dealerships/sellers will offer lower interest rates compared to if you were buying a new car. You can either go through the dealership, or externally.

You can lease a Certified Pre-Owned vehicle, but not all dealerships and manufacturers will offer it as part of their program.

Every manufacturer and dealership/retailer sets its own age, mileage, and quality criteria to determine which vehicles enter their CPO program. When buying the vehicle, you will receive paperwork that certifies the vehicle to meet the standards.

The majority of Certified Pre-Owned vehicles come with a warranty – whether it’s an additional extender version or the previous owner. Each vehicle and manufacturer will offer a different warranty, so always be sure to double-check the fine print.

Are certified pre-owned cars worth it?

The allure of a brand new car is certainly tempting, but purchasing a Certified Pre-Owned vehicle can be equally appealing. In fact, there are many benefits to buying one, such as lower depreciation, affordability, and certified quality.

The pre-owned car market is worth considering Whether you're on a budget or simply want more value for your money. You might just find the perfect vehicle at a great price.

Next step? Contact us to find affordable Ontario car insurance to protect your vehicle.