Certified pre-owned vehicles are typically the cream of the crop among used cars, but a non-certified used car doesn't necessarily have something wrong with it. In fact, there are a few valid reasons why a used car might not have undergone the certification process:
Its age surpasses the automaker’s limit
Its mileage surpasses the automaker’s limit
It can be sold for a lower price
It sustained major damage
Follow along for more detail about each potential reason for the lack of a CPO status:
The Vehicle Is Too Old
Automakers set age restrictions for their CPO inventory because newer models tend to be more reliable and have greater longevity. Obviously, you can still find dependability with an older used car, but the CPO designation is meant to be exclusive for the most desirable used models. A common maximum age range for a CPO car is 3-5 years old.
The Vehicle Has Too Many Miles
Similarly, automakers set odometer restrictions because models with lower mileage also tend to be more reliable. Again, you can still find a higher mileage car in good condition, but this restriction emphasizes the exclusivity of CPO options. Maximum mileage limits vary by automaker, but they usually won’t exceed 50,000-75,000 miles.
The Vehicle Can Be Sold for a Lower Price
Dealerships want to appeal to a large audience of car shoppers, and CPO vehicles come with a higher price tag than non-certified used cars because of their added warranties and benefits. By forgoing the certification process for a used car, the dealership can attract more shoppers with lower budgets.
The Vehicle Sustained Major Damage
Structural damage from an accident will usually disqualify a vehicle from CPO eligibility. Though this reason doesn’t ease the concern about a vehicle’s non-certified status, it’s still possible that the car has been fully repaired to a good operating condition.
Though damage might be a reason a used car couldn’t attain CPO status, there are other reasons that aren’t as worrisome. Research the CPO qualifications for the automaker of a used car you’re considering and be sure to ask a salesperson why it hasn’t been certified if its age and mileage make it eligible. And, as always, have a trusted independent mechanic inspect the vehicle before you begin the process of purchasing it.