Can A Car Be Certified If It Was In An Accident?
What Qualifies A Car As Certified?
Yes, a vehicle that has been in an accident can be certified!
Classifying a “Certified Car” is sort of like performing a background check: It’s not a declarative ruling that nothing bad ever happened, it simply means we like what we see.
Certified Cars are about meeting a standard, so if a car was in a very minor fender bender it is certainly possible for a dealer to say that vehicle is still of a very high quality. That being said, you can’t, or at least shouldn’t be able to, find a certified that has been in an accident requiring any type of meaningful repair, But…
As usual in car buying, the story doesn’t really end there. If you happened to read one of my previous posts, (How Do I Get A Carfax For Free), I discuss with you that vehicle histories, such as those provided by Carfax and Autocheck, only contain information that was submitted to them, which means the likelihood of something going unreported is higher than you might think.
So, where am I going with this? Well, when you see a certified car and hear that it is accident free it means it’s documented history is accident free, not necessarily the car!
How Do I know If A Car Has Been In An Accident?
Tools For Detecting Car Accidents
The one thing you will need for sure is a paint depth meter which I will link to here. This is a relatively inexpensive one but in my opinion it is all you need as a car shopper. The way it works is by detecting how thick the paint is around the car. Factory paint will reflect virtually the same depth around the entire car where as a panel or area that has been repainted will be thicker or thinner than the rest of the car. Again, as with anything, finding a panel that has been painted doesn’t mean you can declare an accident. The vehicle may have just had rock chips so the owner decided to paint it, as an example. Use this tool and any repairs you find as a sign to look further around the area for panels that are not aligned correctly or painted bolts that have paint removed because they were taken off. If you truly suspect something at this point, it’s time to call in the pros!
Want To Know More About Certified Cars?
Is it a stretch to assume you are here because you are thinking about buying a certified car? If you are, let me see if I can’t answer some more questions you may have had or will have in the future so I can save you from excessive searching (Which I’m sure you have already done plenty of).
14 Popular Certified Pre-Owned Vehicle Questions Answered
What Is The (Real) Difference Between A Certified Car And A Used Car?
In all respects a Certified Car is as close to being new as any used car can get, but it is still a used car. One thing that is true about certified vehicles is that they are exceptional used cars. Where certified vehicles really separate themselves, however, is that they have a business or a brand backing them as being of a higher quality. That, in reality, is the most important difference– The “Who” in who is defining the certification.
What Does Certified Pre-Owned car Mean (Really)
- A Manufacturer (Factory) CPO vehicle, which is only going to be sold at an authorized dealership tied to that particular vehicles manufacturer (Franchise).
- An Independent Certified Vehicle, which is overseen by third party companies like the National Vehicle Certification Program, Carmark, and/or several others
- Dealer Certified, which means the inspections and certifications are (Usually) done in house but still include added warranties and service programs
Certified vs Pre-Owned vs Dealer Certified
What Is The Difference Between Pre-Owned Certified And Certified?
Do Certified Cars Come With A Warranty?
Yes, and more actually. Aside from the “Word” of the certifying business, a certified car is accompanied by some pretty nice perks. You can expect some special financing options, more/better warranties, and a better deal on service packages. All of these benefits are again reminders that the dealership certifying this vehicle truly believes it is going to serve you well, but more importantly, that it will be reliable enough to avoid them ever having to pay out on any of those extra goodies.
How Much More Does A Certified Car Cost?
How Much Can You Negotiate Off A Certified Pre-Owned Car?
The Bottom Line On Car Prices In 2018/2019
I know, I know, get to the point! So, what I am trying to say is that the supply of certified vehicles is going up compared to their demand, which is also rising, just not at the same rate. As this trend continues from now (2018) into at least 2020, expect the price you will have to pay for any used car to decline. Of course, they won’t happen automatically like the signs at the gas station, it will happen because of people like yourself reading articles like this and walking into the dealership informed and prepared.
Something To Be Aware Of (With Price) When Buying A Used Car In 2018
If the supply of certified, and in general all used cars, is going to go up and reduce prices, this is also going to increase the depreciation of anything you buy now (Even new cars). So, you may want to consider the extra money you spend on a certified vehicle and if it is truly worth it.
A few publications are writing articles asking buyers if they can wait a few years to see if the trends change, the idea being that it’s better to buy when what you are buying will retain more value. But, I’m looking at the market a bit differently, I see leasing and the overall desire for avoiding vehicle ownership increasing (Slightly) in coming years which will mean even more supply over demand. The best advice I can give is always going to be: don’t let analysts decide what you drive, if you want or need a new car, then go get one!
Can You Lease a Certified Used Car?
Yes, many dealerships and car makers are now getting into the Used Car and Certified Used Car Leasing market and this is largely due to what we discussed above- The increased supply of used vehicles. GM, as an example, was one of the longest holdouts a few years back and came around in 2016 with a program that offered a 1 year warranty on top of anything that may be left on the original 3 year coverage. Check with whichever brand you might be shopping to see what your options are.
So, Are Certified Used Cars Worth The Extra Money?
Is Leasing A Certified Used Car A Good Idea?
- Used Car Leases come with limited warranties and service so, you could end up paying for repairs on a car you don’t own out of pocket.
- Interest Rates (Money Factor) on used cars are not as good as good as they are on new cars, so if your credit isn’t absolutely perfect this could drive your payments up.
- Possibly bad- As we discussed earlier used prices are scheduled to continue downward, and if this happens, it means dealers will have to plan on getting back a car that isn’t worth as much (Residual value). This means= Higher payments.
- Used cars don’t have that large upfront depreciation so the residual value gap (That determines payments) will be much more narrow than you would get on a new vehicle
- Overall, because the vehicles we are discussing are used they are cheaper, which means lower payments, even despite higher interest rates.
Swapping A Lease (Another Option)
There is yet another option here, and that is the Lease Swap. A Lease swap is where one individual with time remaining on their lease simply turns over the vehicle and the payments to someone else.
How Does A Lease Swap Work?
But wait, before you go listing any cars:
Check your leasing contract to ensure there are not any special rules or limitations on such a trade. Although this may be a new concept to you, it has been around for a while so each automaker has their own rules in place.
You have companies like Hyundai and Kia that don’t allow transfers in any way, shape, or form. Outside of that, you have several more that will tell you no lease swapping in the first 12 months, as an example…
If you make it past the contract limitations, the next rule you will want to find will be if the manufacturer holds the seller (The original Lease Holder) responsible. Two such Car Makers that do are Volkswagon and Audi. If you are the seller you have to consider if you want someone else driving around all of YOUR liability for the next year or two,
If you are the buyer this seems like a pretty sweet deal, does it not?
Well, we were able to cover a few topics today around buying a Certified Used Vehicle, and my only hope is that we were able to help.
If we did not help you:
Please leave any questions you have in the comment section below. I (Steve) will answer them personally, and if I feel they can help anyone reading this post, I will actually add your question and my answer into the post so that we can reach and help more car buyers out there.
As always, thank you for stopping by and we look forward to seeing you again soon, or at least until you find a car 🙂