2nd hand vehicles are not as risky a purchase as they used to be. Thanks to certification programs, the industry is changing for the better, and more Americans are turning to 2nd hand vehicles for better value.
Certification offers a way to weed out unscrupulous 2nd hand vehicle dealers who might sell damaged vehicles. The nearly 600,000 vehicles damaged by floodwaters from last year's storms are prime candidates to end up as part of such scams.
As more vehicle purchasers turn to certified vehicles, the number sold this year is expected to increase significantly from the 1.6 million purchased in 2005. Besides costing less than their new-vehicle counterparts, certified vehicles also come with many of the same benefits, eliminating much of the guesswork associated with purchasing used.
Be wary, however, because not all certification programs are created equal. To help sort out the best from the worthless, 2nd hand-vehicle professionals offer the following tips:
Certified by whom? Make sure you know who sets the standards for the certification program and who makes certain they're being enforced. Look for a manufacturer-backed program-the best individuals to certify a vehicle are the ones who built it and specialize in that make. Most manufacturers will offer a limited warranty in addition to honoring the vehicle's original warranty.
Do your homework. Research the makes and models that make sense for your driving needs. Check safety and reliability reports published online and prices from your whole area.
How was the vehicle certified? At a minimum, a vehicle should have a detailed mechanical inspection and a vehicle history report. Carfax Vehicle History Reports are a mandatory part of the certification process for 80 percent of today's manufacturer-certified programs.
What does it get you? The certified 2nd hand vehicle you're purchasing probably comes with an extended warranty. Make sure you know exactly what this covers and for how long. You can always add additional coverage.
Ask for more. If you want roadside assistance, options added to the vehicle, free oil changes or anything else, don't be afraid to ask.