Better car buy: Used or certified pre-owned?

Consumer Reports breaks down benefits of both buys


SAN ANTONIO – If you're in the market for a used vehicle, should you buy a certified pre-owned? 

Is it worth the extra money?

Certified pre-owned vehicles usually have lower mileage, fewer defects or needed repairs than a typical used car. They are protected by a manufacturer's extended warranty, they go through inspections and history checks for potential repairs before they can be certified. Some of them also offer roadside assistance, free satellite radio and discounted finance rates on loans.

"These are all great benefits. Consumers are really paying a premium for peace of mind, which may not be necessary," said Consumer Reports automotive editor John Linkov.

A typical used car may be your better bet, Linkov said.

A regular used car can cost you lot less than its certified pre-owned equivalent. And if the consumer puts in a little more legwork, it could end up being a better value.  

"First, find a trusted mechanic who can inspect the car for any hidden damages or repairs that may be necessary," Linkov said.

Interested buyers can check Consumer Reports' list for the most reliable used cars.  

The vehicle identification number can be key to digging up a car's history, Linkov said. Conduct a search online with the VIN to see if any revealing information pops up.

You can also enter the VIN at safercar.gov to check for open recalls. 

Autocheck or Carfax can be helpful tools to check for past accidents.

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