Car Q&A: Preowned Cars?

Q.

The Nest Q&A

What's with preowned cars? Is it better to buy a less expensive new car or a preowned version of a high-end, better-rated model?

A.

Certified preowned cars (CPOs) can be a great deal, but some programs are more reliable than others. Each manufacturer uses its own criteria when judging the condition of a car for resale. Do research to find out what standards each company uses and see what you're comfortable with. Make sure you can find out what the car was inspected for, who inspected it, who certified it, what repairs have been made, why it was given up, and what warranty is offered. Inspect the car closely yourself to make sure the doors open smoothly and the exterior paint looks even (you're looking for any evidence the car has been in an accident, which is a hornet's nest you don't want to inherit).

But choosing a CPO over a new model depends on what you're specifically looking for. If you seek a lot of fancy features for your dollar, buying a two- or three-year-old high-quality car can be a very good bet. On the other hand, some lower-priced cars these days have very high-quality ratings. The CPO shortfall, though, is that in many cases, you'll get less money reselling an older model than you would if you spent more money on a newer model. So weigh your options.

-- The Nest Editors

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