Used vs. certified pre-owned: Which cars are worth your money? ::

— Buying a pre-owned car is definitely a way to save some money, but what’s the difference in “used” and “certified pre-owned?”

There’s no question that buying a certified pre-owned car — or CPO — comes with certain benefits, the main one being that it’s not a used car with a mysterious past.

However, experts at Consumer Reports say paying a premium price for a CPO may not be necessary.

Consumer Reports: Buying used cars

Manufacturers offer CPO vehicles as more affordable alternatives to new models. They usually have lower mileage and fewer defects or needed repairs than a typical used car, they’re protected by a manufacturer’s extended warranty and they go through inspections and history checks for potential repairs. Some also offer roadside assistance, free satellite radio and discounted finance rates on loans.

“These are all great benefits,” said Jon Linkov, Consumer Reports’ Auto Editor. “Consumers are really paying a premium for peace of mind, which may not be necessary.”

Non-certified used cars can cost a lot less than the CPO equivalent — but you’ve got to do your homework.

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

Used vs. certified pre-owned: Which cars are worth your money?

Experts also recommend consulting Consumer Reports’ list for the most reliable used cars. You can search the car’s vehicle identification number — or VIN — online to check if any revealing information pops up.

You can also enter the VIN at to check for open recalls. Although there’s no guarantee, AutoCheck or Carfax can be helpful tools to check for past accidents. The extra effort could save you money and be all the certification you’ll need.

While these tools are helpful, Consumer Reports says a clean history report doesn’t necessarily mean the vehicle has never been in an accident.

You can learn more online.

This article originally appeared here via Google News