Best CPO warranties
See which brands offer the best coverage for their certified pre-owned vehicles
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There are two main draws to buying a certified pre-owned (CPO) vehicle. First, you know the vehicle has passed some sort of inspection, meaning you’re less likely to get a lemon. Second, you get an added warranty with your purchase as insurance against pricey repairs.
But which brand offers the best CPO warranty? What makes them stand out? And are CPO vehicles really as trustworthy as they seem? Read on to find out.
- Lexus, Genesis, Kia, Hyundai and Honda offer the best CPO warranties in 2023.
- CPO vehicles generally come with one year or 12,000 miles of added bumper-to-bumper warranty coverage, a longer powertrain warranty and some additional benefits, like roadside assistance.
- Although CPO vehicles normally have to pass a dealer’s inspection, it’s smart to schedule your own pre-purchase inspection (PPI) before any used car purchase.
- The average dealership charges 2% to 8% more after a vehicle is certified. On the low end, this could be worth it, but on the high end, you might consider a pre-purchase inspection and an extended warranty instead.
5 best certified pre-owned warranties in 2023
Check out the table below to see a quick rundown of the top five best CPO programs of 2023. (You may need to scroll sideways to see the full table.)
|Brand||CPO bumper-to-bumper coverage||CPO powertrain coverage||Roadside assistance||Travel protection||Transportation benefits||Extras|
|1. Lexus||Extends remaining basic warranty to 6 years/unlimited miles** OR adds a 2-year/unlimited-mile CPO warranty*||None added (remaining 6-year/70,000-mile factory powertrain warranty**)||2+ years/unlimited miles*||Up to $200 per day ( $600 per occurrence) for meals/lodging; Up to $50 per day ($250 per occurrence) for transport||Loaner cars available for up to 5 days||2 years/20,000 miles of complimentary maintenance; 90-day SiriusXM trial|
|2. Genesis||6 years/75,000 miles**||10 years/100,000 miles**||10 years/unlimited miles*||Up to $100 per day ($500 per occurrence)||Rental car reimbursement of up to $50 per day ($500 per occurrence)||90-day SiriusXM trial|
|3. Kia||1 year/12,000 miles*||10 years/100,000 miles (also applies to hybrid/EV batteries)**||10 years/unlimited miles*||Up to $100 per day ($500 per occurrence)||Rental car reimbursement of up to $35 per day ($350 per occurrence)||Carfax report; 90-day SiriusXM trial|
|4. Hyundai||None added (remaining 5-year/60,000-mile factory warranty**)||10 years/100,000 miles (also applies to hybrid/EV batteries)**||10 years/unlimited miles**||Up to $100 per day ($500 per occurrence)||Rental car reimbursement of up to $35 per day ($350 per occurrence)||Carfax report; 90-day SiriusXM trial|
|5. Honda||Varies based on certification||Varies based on certification||Duration of limited warranty||Up to $100 per day ($300 per occurrence)||None||Up to 2 complimentary oil changes; 90-day SiriusXM trial|
We also have more detailed write-ups for each program below.
- 1. Lexus
- In terms of CPO perks and protection, Lexus leads the pack with its L/Certified program. To qualify for L/Certified status, vehicles must be under 6 years old, have fewer than 70,000 miles on their odometers and pass a 161-point inspection.
If your certified pre-owned Lexus is still within its original factory warranty period (four years/50,000 miles), Lexus will extend that coverage to a generous six-year limit with no mileage cap. If your original factory warranty has expired, Lexus will grant you an extra two years of warranty protection — again with no mileage limit.
You’ll also get some industry-leading benefits from an L/Certified Lexus, like complimentary maintenance and roadside assistance for your first two years or 20,000 miles, a bona fide loaner car program (so you don’t have to pay out of pocket to rent a car when your Lexus is in the shop for a while), and up to $850 in trip interruption benefits.
- 2. Genesis
- Coming in a close second is the new kid on the luxury block: Genesis. Hyundai’s luxury brand offers a deceptively strong CPO program with a six-year/75,000-mile limited warranty and a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty (both measured from when your vehicle was brand new).
We say “deceptively” because, under normal circumstances, Genesis’ factory Powertrain warranty doesn’t fully transfer when its vehicles are resold, so you’re effectively getting all 10 years reinstated plus a bevy of other benefits like roadside assistance and travel protection.
To qualify for Genesis’ CPO program, vehicles must be under 5 years old, have under 60,000 miles and pass a 191-point inspection.
- 3. Kia
- Despite also being owned by Hyundai, Kia narrowly edges out Hyundai’s CPO program by offering a one-year/12,000-mile extension of whatever factory limited warranty you have left. You’ll also get roadside assistance until your Kia is 10 years old (measured from when it was first sold) plus up to $850 in travel protection and rental car reimbursements combined.
Qualifying vehicles must be under 5 years old, have fewer than 60,000 miles and pass a 164-point inspection.
- 4. Hyundai
- Unlike Kia, Hyundai doesn’t extend your vehicle’s existing factory limited warranty when you buy through its CPO program; you’ll just get whatever’s left. Even still, a five-year/60,000-mile factory warranty is generous enough to edge out competitors who offer one-year extensions of shorter three-year/36,000-mile factory warranties. Plus, like with Genesis and Kia, you’ll get your vehicle’s 10-year/100-000-mile factory powertrain warranty reinstated when you buy CPO.
To qualify for CPO status, Hyundais must be under 5 years old and have fewer than 60,000 miles on the odometer in addition to passing a 173-point inspection.
It’s also worth noting that Hyundai is the only company in our top five to have a deductible for warranty claims ($50), but given that it’s so small, it doesn’t feel like a meaningful deterrent to buying a CPO Hyundai.
- 5. Honda
- Honda makes the top five by extending your factory limited warranty to up to five years/86,000 miles and adding a seven-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty (measured from when your vehicle was new). But there’s a catch — Honda has multiple levels of certification, and only HondaTrue Certified+ cars are bestowed with this lengthy warranty, meaning only used vehicles under one year old with under 12,000 miles are eligible for the highest level of coverage.
Honda’s mid-tier certification for vehicles under 5 years old and with fewer than 80,000 miles, called HondaTrue Certified, only extends your factory limited warranty to four years/48,000 miles. (If your factory limited warranty is already expired, it adds a one-year/12,000-mile limited warranty.) On the upside, you still get the same seven years or 100,000 miles of powertrain coverage.
Honda’s lowest certification tier, HondaTrue Used, is available for vehicles up to 10 years old with no mileage limit, but its warranty term is also far shorter. HondaTrue Used only offers 100 days or 5,000 miles of limited coverage.
» COMPARE: Best new car warranty
What does certified pre-owned mean?
On a basic level, being “certified pre-owned” means that a used vehicle has met a specific standard for quality set forth by a manufacturer. The exact standards used vary from manufacturer to manufacturer.
To be certified, a pre-owned vehicle typically must:
- Be within a certain age or mileage limit (e.g., under 5 years old or with under 60,000 miles)
- Pass a quality inspection at a licensed dealership
While CPO programs have traditionally been a way for manufacturers to stand by their own vehicles, some automakers now certify used vehicles from other brands.
The upside to buying certified pre-owned is that most CPO vehicles include:
- Additional warranty coverage (usually anywhere from three months to two years of added bumper-to-bumper warranty protection and a longer powertrain warranty)
- Travel protection/trip interruption benefits for breakdowns occurring 100+ miles from home
- Rental car reimbursements for between $35 and $50 per day while your vehicle is in the shop for a warranty repair
- Roadside assistance for flat tires, towing, etc.
According to Cars.com, dealers tend to charge between 2% and 8% more for CPO vehicles, though. That means a used car that normally costs $25,000 might cost $500 to $2,000 more once it’s certified.
Are certified pre-owned vehicles worth it?
So, is it worth it to buy certified pre-owned? It depends.
Assuming your chosen vehicle is worth buying in the first place, let’s go back to the two main benefits we mentioned at the start of this article — what part of buying a CPO vehicle appeals to you more: the quality assurance or the added warranty?
Are CPO vehicles worth it for the inspection?
If you’re primarily interested in making sure your used car isn’t a lemon, there are easier (and often more dependable) ways to get an inspection.
A thorough pre-purchase inspection by an ASE-certified mechanic should only cost around $200. Plus, an experienced, unbiased third-party mechanic may be able to provide a more honest, more accurate assessment than the dealership that’s trying to sell the car to you in the first place.
“I bought a certified Mercedes E350 at a Mercedes dealership in NJ in 2016,” wrote Joe, a ConsumerAffairs reviewer from New Jersey. “I was given the vehicle to take home and since it was certified with a full warranty, I felt confident the vehicle was in great condition with no issues. … My vehicle must have been the exception.
“There was a long list of issues which made it apparent that this vehicle shouldn't have been certified. I was lied to about the vehicle being in an accident, bad brakes, squeaky steering, broken remote, deep 18 inch long gouges in the windshield and rear glass, many other things and, the focus of this story, the TeleAid was intermittently inoperable.”
Stories like this are why it’s best to always get a pre-purchase inspection on any used car you’re considering — even if it’s certified pre-owned. Even in cases where the dealership technician completes the manufacturer’s CPO checklist as thoroughly as possible, a second opinion rarely hurts.
“I’ve inspected CPO vehicles in the past and none have passed with 100%,” wrote Eric Hamilton, the founder of Whyte Knyte Inspections, in an email to ConsumerAffairs. “Technicians can make mistakes and often do on a CPO inspection. I know this because I was the CPO compliance inspector for seven manufacturer brands for over five years.”
Are CPO vehicles worth it for the added warranties?
If you’re primarily interested in the added warranty coverage that comes with CPO status, the odds are much more in your favor. Adding warranty coverage can protect you from expensive repair bills, especially if the vehicle you’re buying has a poor reliability rating or above-average repair costs. However, the value proposition still depends on how much the dealership is charging for certified status.
The value of warranty protection is relative to how reliable your vehicle is.
If a CPO car is only $500 more than an uncertified vehicle, it’s likely a good deal considering the added warranty coverage and benefits you’ll get. However, it’s arguably not worth paying $2,000+ extra for a CPO vehicle if you’re only getting an extra one-year/12,000-mile warranty, especially when there are other options for adding warranty coverage.
The average cost of an extended warranty is around $2,500, and these plans can functionally “extend” your warranty protection for longer than many CPO warranties. (We put “extend” in quotation marks because these vehicle service contracts are actually new plans, so you can choose more or less coverage than you have with your existing factory warranty.)
So, if you’re looking at certified pre-owned vehicles for the added peace of mind that comes with a CPO warranty, consider that the cost of a pre-purchase inspection (about $200) plus a longer extended warranty (about $1,000 per year of coverage) may actually rival the dealership’s CPO upcharge for certain vehicles.
What is the difference between new and certified pre-owned?
A new car hasn’t been sold to its first owner yet and typically has fewer than 100 miles on the odometer. A certified pre-owned (CPO) vehicle is a used car that must be below a certain age and mileage limit (typically around five years/60,000 miles) and pass a rigorous quality inspection at the dealership.
What is the difference between CPO and extended warranties?
Broadly speaking, certified pre-owned vehicles usually come with warranties, while extended warranties are separate purchases. In addition, CPO warranties are manufacturer-backed, while extended warranties are available from manufacturers and third-party warranty companies.
Are certified pre-owned and dealer-certified the same thing?
“Certified pre-owned” and “dealer-certified” are not the same thing.
To get true certified pre-owned (CPO) status, a vehicle must meet quality and inspection standards set by an automaker (Ford, Toyota, etc.). “Dealer-certified” only means that the vehicle has met the (likely lower) standards of the dealership trying to sell you the car. CPO vehicles are generally more trustworthy than dealer-certified vehicles, and they typically include a manufacturer-backed CPO warranty to prove it.
- Article sources
- ConsumerAffairs writers primarily rely on government data, industry experts and original research from other reputable publications to inform their work. Specific sources for this article include:
- Cars.com, “The Basics of Buying a CPO Vehicle.” Accessed June 12, 2023.
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