What Exactly Is A Certified Pre-Owned Car?

What Exactly Is A Certified Pre-Owned Car?

Written by DriveAxis.ca May 18, 2022

Buying pre-owned vehicles is nothing new, but there’s a tremendous difference between purchasing one from a private seller, and buying one that has been certified. However, a lot of Canadians still aren’t exactly sure what the word “certified” actually means, or what it covers.

Buying a certified pre-owned vehicle comes with a few advantages, mostly related to peace of mind when it comes to things like mechanical reliability. There are a few other tidbits that would-be car buyers should be aware of, so they can make an informed choice moving forward.


A certified pre-owned car is one that has been given a thorough inspection by a dealership or manufacturer before it is eligible to be resold. Any necessary repairs are also performed in order to get it ready to go back out on the lot.

This is quite different from buying a used car from a private seller, who may try to obscure or fail to mention past issues or repairs that the new buyer will have to deal with. In short, it’s a professional inspection and reconditioning job done by the experts who know the car, and what it needs to be deemed worthy of resale to a new customer.


Every car manufacturer has their own set of criteria that are used when certifying a pre-owned vehicle. These usually center around things like mileage, age and the quality of the interior and exterior. For instance, Hyundai has a rather strict set of requirements that must be met to achieve certified status, whereas Ford stays within a vehicle age of 6 years and under, with less than 120,000km to its name.

Car buyers should be aware before buying a certified pre-owned vehicle, just to make sure all the bases are covered. There is no one set of hard and fast rules that car manufacturers rely on to certify a vehicle, and much of the certification process is done internally.

The dealer side, however, works a bit differently. Rather than adhering to specific manufacturer’s standards, the dealer will abide by their own when deciding to certify a vehicle. If you are buying from a third-party car dealership that works with a vast array of brand names, it might be wise to dig deep into the details to learn how and why the car was certified.


Aside from the added peace of mind of purchasing a certified pre-owned vehicle, you will also gain access to a series of perks that can help out over the course of your ownership. Some dealers and manufacturers extend the warranty on a car that has met their certification standards, which is great news for the buyer. This can help out when it comes to things like engine and powertrain, as well as specific bumper-to-bumper coverage options.

Other benefits often include lower financing rates, a limited time exchange period in case you change your mind for another vehicle, and roadside assistance coverage options like CAA, just to round out the package.


The main question on many drivers’ minds is whether they actually need a certified pre-owned or not. Strictly speaking, it isn’t absolutely vital, and many great deals can be found amongst non-certified cars, as well as those sold by private sellers. The difference is the reliability factor.

While it is true that certification is no guarantee that a vehicle won’t still suffer from issues, these are simply less likely to occur. The flip side of the equation is cost, and buyers can expect to pay a bit more for a certified pre-owned, as opposed to non. The choice depends largely on the driver, and what they’re willing to risk.

For instance, drivers who are less savvy and knowledgeable about cars may wish to go the certified route, just for some added security. However, gearheads and car aficionados may see no problem saving a few bucks, and opting for a non-certified alternative. For most people, certification is an extra layer of security and reassurance that comes with benefits not otherwise available, and therefore, they are recommended.


Interested in buying a new car, but you aren’t sure whether to choose certified pre-owned or not? Contact DriveAxis.ca today, and let’s see if we can’t find the perfect pre-owned vehicle for you, with all the trimmings and benefits you deserve.

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