Consumer Crackdown: Certified pre-owned vehicles a hot item, but experts say double check the inspection

CPO’s on pace for record sales in 2022
Published: Mar. 23, 2022 at 4:51 PM EDT
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InvestigateTV -Certified pre-owned vehicles are a hot ticket with sales forecast to break records in 2022, and with the demand skyrocketing, dealers are pushing to sell them for top-dollar.

According to Edmunds, an auto information website, certified pre-owned vehicles average around $1,600 more than the cost of other used vehicles

“These are generally newer vehicles with lower miles compared to your standard used vehicle,” Edmunds spokesperson Jessica Caldwell said. “So, the quality is going to be a bit higher.”

Used vehicles get the “certified pre-owned” label after a dealer or manufacturer puts it through an extensive inspection process which guarantees the vehicle is running properly and comes with a warranty.

Certified pre-owned sales topped $2.7 million in 2021, and are forecast to break $3 million in 2022, according to Cox Automotive, an auto industry website.

However, Maryland-based Consumer attorney Daniel Whitney, Jr., said in his experience certified pre-owned doesn’t always mean the top of the line.

“We as a society have been conditioned by manufacturers to think that a certified pre-owned car is going to be of significantly better quality than just a regular used car,” Whitney, Jr., said.

Whitney, Jr., has sued several car dealerships for selling certified pre-owned vehicles with a history of performance issues, despite having clean inspections.

“It might say something like no rear-end damage, no structural damage. Well, come to find out that damage actually exists on the car,” Whitney, Jr., said. “So, what we have then is either a negligent inspection or perhaps that box was checked even knowing there was a problem.”

That’s why Caldwell says you have to be cautious and know what you’re buying.

“There’s so many resources out there for you now to check prices. So, I think you need to look at the mileage driven, the condition of the used vehicle, and look at what current market conditions are,” Caldwell said.

So, before you purchase a Certified Pre-owned vehicle, experts suggest doing this:

  • Demand to see the vehicle’s title
  • Get a car history report from the dealer
  • Have a mechanic inspect it
  • Make sure you can get a refund on your deposit

If you think a car dealer is breaking the rules, file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP or contact your state Attorney General’s office or Consumer Protection office.