Subaru certified pre-owned warranty

You may find the warranty lacking, but a CPO Subaru can still be worth it

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If you plan to own your Subaru for the long haul, you might consider buying a certified pre-owned (CPO) vehicle for the added quality assurance and extended warranty protection. But how does Subaru’s CPO program stack up? What does it cost? And is it worth paying extra for?

Read on to find out.

Key insights

CPO Subarus come with a seven-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty, a $500 Owner Loyalty Coupon, 24/7 roadside assistance, a one-year STARLINK subscription and other perks.

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Subaru does not include extra bumper-to-bumper protection on its certified vehicles, which is disappointing considering they only come with three years/36,000 miles of exclusionary coverage from the factory.

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That means you probably don’t want to spend more than $600 extra for a CPO Subaru if you’re looking to get a good deal.

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As an alternative, Subaru’s own extended warranties are affordable, comprehensive and available with the bumper-to-bumper protection and benefits missing from the brand’s CPO vehicles.

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Subaru’s certified pre-owned program explained

Subaru doesn’t have a fancy name for its CPO program. The company simply calls it Subaru Certified Pre-Owned or Subaru CPO.

In order to qualify, a used Subaru must be under five model years old (i.e., at least as new as a 2019 model in 2024) and have fewer than 80,000 miles on its odometer. The vehicle must also pass a thorough 152-point inspection by a certified Subaru technician. This inspection includes a detailed look at the brakes, tires, engine, transmission, interior, infotainment system and more. (If you’re curious, you can actually see Subaru’s full CPO inspection checklist here.)

All CPO Subarus also come with:

  • A seven-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty (measured from when the vehicle was new)
  • 24/7 roadside assistance
  • An interesting $500 Owner Loyalty Coupon, which you can apply to the purchase of your next Subaru

Let’s break it all down, including what these perks will cost you, to determine if it’s worth paying extra for a certified Subaru.

» LEARN: What does a car warranty cover?

How good is Subaru’s CPO warranty?

Subaru’s CPO warranty is worse than the industry average.

For context, all new Subarus come with the following factory warranties:

These warranties also transfer to new owners. So, whether your used Subaru is certified or not, you’ll get whatever remains of the factory warranties.

If you buy CPO, however, you’ll get the powertrain coverage limit extended to seven years or 100,000 miles. “That CPO powertrain warranty covers the exact same parts as the factory powertrain warranty,” a sales rep with a local Subaru dealer told us. “In simple terms, it covers anything that makes the car ‘go,’ including your engine, transmission, drive axles and a few other things.”

Also, both the factory and CPO warranties have a $0 deductible on repairs, too.

That said, it’s a significant letdown that Subaru doesn’t include any extended bumper-to-bumper coverage with its CPO warranty. That’s especially true considering you only get three years or 36,000 miles initially, which is the industry minimum.

How does Subaru’s CPO warranty compare?

Subaru’s CPO warranty falls short of most of its closest competitors because it lacks additional bumper-to-bumper coverage.

Hyundai is the only major automotive brand we know of that doesn’t extend its manufacturer’s bumper-to-bumper warranty when you buy CPO, but Hyundais come with five years or 60,000 miles of bumper-to-bumper coverage from the factory to begin with.

*Added coverage amounts are for Gold Certified vehicles

» MORE: Best CPO warranties

CPO Subaru benefits

Subaru Certified Pre-Owned vehicles also come with the following benefits in addition to added warranty coverage:

  • 24/7 roadside assistance for the duration of the powertrain warranty, including battery jump-starts, flat-tire assistance, fuel deliveries and emergency lockout services
  • Towing to the nearest Subaru dealership if the vehicle becomes inoperable
  • A $500 Owner Loyalty Coupon, which you can apply to your next Subaru vehicle purchase
  • Miscellaneous other benefits, including a one-year STARLINK subscription, a three-month trial of SiriusXM and a complimentary Carfax report

It’s worth pointing out that most of Subaru’s competitors also provide rental car assistance and/or trip expense reimbursements, so Subaru’s CPO benefits are below average too.

That said, this is the first time we’ve seen a loyalty coupon attached to a CPO program, which increases the value proposition significantly if you plan to buy another Subaru soon. (More on that in a bit.)

Is a CPO Subaru worth it?

Even though you don’t get as much with a certified Subaru as you get from some other automakers, it can still be worth shopping for a CPO Subaru. The catch? It’s likely only worth it if the dealer is charging ~$600 or less above the price of a similar noncertified vehicle and you actually plan to use that $500 Owner Loyalty Coupon. We’ll explain our reasoning below.

In general, paying extra for CPO is more likely to be worth it if:

  • You plan to purchase a vehicle with below-average reliability.
  • The cost of buying certified pre-owned is less than $1,000 above the cost of buying used.
  • The CPO warranty includes at least one year or 12,000 miles of bumper-to-bumper coverage.

We’ve already established that Subaru CPO doesn’t provide extra bumper-to-bumper coverage, but let’s see how it stacks up for the other two points.

How reliable are Subarus?

Subaru vehicles tend to have mixed reliability ratings.

In 2023, Consumer Reports ranked Subaru as the seventh most reliable brand out of 24 automakers. Apparently, the Crosstrek and Forester were the most reliable, while the Ascent and Legacy brought up the rear.

J.D. Power, however, ranked Subaru 14th out of 29 brands, with an average of 198 problems per 100 vehicles after three years of ownership.

RepairPal, which also factors in the cost of ownership, ranked Subaru 14th out of 32 automakers for reliability. According to that site’s 2019 data, Subarus cost their owners just $617 in maintenance and unplanned repairs each year — that’s around $844 in early 2024 when adjusted for inflation, a pinch below the $891 industry average — and make unscheduled trips to the mechanic roughly 18% less frequently.

In terms of reliability, Consumer Reports ranked Subaru sixth out of 24 brands, J.D. Power ranked it 14th out of 29 brands, and RepairPal ranked it 14th out of 32 brands.

Owner experiences seem to be mixed as well.

“I was disappointed to learn that Subaru would not cover the cost of replacing the engine in my car that is burning excessive oil. It currently has about 69,770 miles on it, but the oil burning started around 40,000 miles back in 2018,” wrote Chris, a ConsumerAffairs reviewer from California.

“Amazing customer service experience. The entire team is consistently helpful and courteous,” wrote Izzy, a ConsumerAffairs reviewer from Kentucky. “I appreciate the product and business. It has been resourceful for long term drivability.”

In summary, your experience with long-term Subaru ownership may vary, so additional warranty protection could be nice to have. And it may even pay for itself.

» READ MORE: Subaru maintenance: cost, plans and service schedule

How much does a certified pre-owned Subaru cost?

Subaru dealers charge an average of 3.2% more for CPO vehicles than for noncertified used vehicles, according to iSeeCars. That translates to an average $599 upcharge. The average price hike across brands is 3.6%, equivalent to $813.

An analysis of used-versus-CPO prices on Edmunds indicated that dealers are charging anywhere from $200 to $2,000 extra for CPO vehicles, so you may want to take your time researching and negotiating a better price. (To learn how to negotiate with dealers the easy way, check out step eight of our article on how to buy a used car.)

Let’s recap what you’re getting for your extra $599 and what those perks might cost if you bought them separately:

  • A pre-purchase inspection (~$200)
  • A two-year powertrain extended warranty (~$800)
  • Four additional years of roadside assistance (~$240)
  • A $500 Owner Loyalty Coupon

Even if you never use the CPO powertrain warranty, the rest of these perks may be worth paying $599 extra for on their own.

There’s also the $500 Owner Loyalty Coupon to consider. If you plan to buy another new or used Subaru — especially in the near future — this perk alone can help to cover the cost of paying extra for certification.

The only catch is that we’ve read stories online of dealers refusing to honor them. Allegedly, they tell customers they “don’t participate” in the Subaru Loyalty Program, which may very well be true considering most car dealers are independently owned and operated. With that in mind, you might want to call up your local Subaru dealers to ensure at least one of them will accept your $500 coupon in the future.

How to get the most out of Subaru’s CPO warranties

If you do choose to buy a CPO Subaru, here are a few ways you can maximize your benefits:

  • Save your $500 Owner Loyalty Coupon: This coupon could be as good as a $500 bill when it comes time to buy your next Subaru, so be sure to save it in the cloud, in your filing cabinet or framed on the wall, if necessary.
  • Log your Subaru Roadside Assistance number: You may not have 5G when your car breaks down, so be sure to have Subaru’s roadside rescue number logged in your phone just in case.
  • Activate your one-year STARLINK trial subscription: STARLINK allows for enhanced multimedia, safety and SOS features (including Stolen Vehicle Recovery), so don’t forget to activate it if the dealer hasn’t already.

» LEARN MORE: Should I buy an extended auto warranty on a used car?

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    CPO vs. extended warranties for Subarus

    If you want more coverage than a CPO Subaru provides or you can’t find one at a reasonable price, you may want to consider buying a regular used Subaru and getting an extended warranty for it.

    Subaru’s official extended warranties are called Subaru Added Security plans. They tend to cost around $1,800 for three years of Gold Plus coverage with a $0 deductible, which is far below the $1,000-per-year-of-coverage industry average for bumper-to-bumper protection. $1,800 is admittedly more than the average upcharge on a certified Subie, but you’re also getting a lot more coverage.

    These extended warranties also include a $35 daily rental car assistance and a $500 trip interruption allowance — neither of which come with a CPO Subaru.

    It’s usually worth shopping around to make sure you’re getting the best deal possible on warranty coverage.

    In our full breakdown of Subaru’s extended warranties, we determined that purchasing a Gold Plus Subaru Added Security plan might make sense given their low cost, their solid benefits and Subaru’s mixed reputation for reliability. We did learn that plans for sports cars like the BRZ and WRX cost extra, though.

    If you plan to max out your Subaru’s odometer, you might also consider an extended warranty from a third party. These plans can cover vehicles with up to 300,000 miles, so you can protect yourself from repair bills for even longer.

    » FIND WARRANTY COMPANIES: Best extended car warranty companies

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    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:
    1. J.D. Power, “Vehicle Dependability Slumps as Rate of Deterioration Increases, J.D. Power Finds.” Accessed April 2, 2024.
    2. Consumer Reports, “Who Makes the Most Reliable New Cars?” Accessed Aug. 9, 2023.
    3. RepairPal, “Subaru Reliability Rating.” Accessed Aug. 9, 2023.
    4. iSeeCars, “Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) Cars: Are They Worth the Extra Cost?” Accessed Aug. 9, 2023.
    5. Edmunds, “Certified Pre-Owned (CPO).” Accessed Aug. 9, 2023.
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