Twice, in the past week, I’ve had to explain what it meant when a dealer “certified” a used car. A customer called and had 2 cars she was choosing from, one was a “certified” dealer vehicle which was $3,000 more than the privately owned, yet very similar car. She insisted the dealer one was better because it came with a 100,000 mile bumper to bumper warranty. I laughed, and suggested she call them back and get a better explanation and, of course, 10 minutes later she called me back to say “um, yeah you’re right, it means nothing”.
The second call was from another customer who just wanted advice on how to proceed with finding a car, but said the same thing. He insisted if he went to the dealer and got a “certified” car he would be assured of a long term guarantee. I had to burst his bubble as well.
I have to give kudos to dealers for being successful with the marketing ploy, but sadly that’s all it is, a ploy.
The best way to buy a car is from a private individual, after taking it to your mechanic and having it checked out. we charge $65 for this service. I’d also recommend a carfax report. With those 2 checkpoints you’re on your way to having a great car for an average of 20% less then you’d pay at the dealer. I know it’s a lot easier to just walk into the dealer, shop around and leave with a car. If you have money to burn, then by all means, go for it. If not…Craigslist here you come!