Is it worth it to pay extra to get a “certified” used car? In a word, NO. Auto manufacturers and dealers came up with the notion of “certified” cars to prop up the price of used cars, and increase their profits.
Basically, you are paying extra — an average of thousands of dollars more — just for the name “certified.” Keep in mind — the dealer who gives the car that “156-point” inspection has an obvious conflict of interest. Plus the manufacturer doesn’t actually do the inspection. If there’s a problem, the manufacturer will just point fingers at the dealer.
Some dealers have “certified” cars that were grossly unsafe.
For example, one dealer in Michigan sold a GM “certified” car that was actually two cars — a classic “chop job.” The front half of one wrecked car, welded onto the back half of another wrecked car. If the car was in even a minor collision, it would have split in two. GM and the dealer refused to give the buyers –who finally discovered they had been snookered — a refund.
Another dealer in Los Angeles sold a Mercedes that had been in a severe crash as a “certified” used car. The owner noticed that the tires were wearing unevenly. He took the car to have it aligned, and was stunned to hear that it wasn’t possible to get it into alignment because it had been so badly damaged the unibody was twisted out of shape. It was so unsafe, the repair shop told him not to drive it home, but to have it towed. When he confronted the dealer, the dealer refused to give him a refund. He finally sued, and eventually settled his case for a confidential amount.
Many “certified” cars are former rental cars or fleet vehicles that were driven hard and may be poorly maintained. Instead of being worth more than Blue Book, they are usually worth less. But dealers can get away with charging more for them by calling them “certified.”
Instead of paying thousands extra for a “certified” car, pay $100 to get your own, independent inspection. Do it BEFORE you buy. And save thousands of dollars.