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Second Act

Take your seat in a certified pre-owned vehicle, and get ready for a "like new" ride.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Want to save thousands of dollars on your next ? Try a Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) model. Meticulously inspected and under warranty by the manufacturer, many CPOs are just off-lease, reliable, much less costly than new , and between two and five years old.

Kelley Blue Book, which built its reputation on used-car values, now includes new, fleet, commer-cial and consumer information. "No two dealers sell for the same price, CPOs or new," says Charlie Vogelheim, executive editor of Kelley Blue Book, whose website receives 1 million hits a day due to its range of transaction and other reports. "You have to shop around. We list the invoice and retail prices so buyers have the ammunition they need to negotiate." Prices on CPOs average $1,000 higher than on used, non-CPO vehicles; but if you want buyer peace of mind with the bonus of a factory warranty, inspection details, and a history and record of all work done, then a CPO vehicle fits the bill. Be sure, however, to look for the manufacturer certification. Some used-car lots claim CPO vehicles are certified, but that's not always the case.

Most CPOs carry a warranty. Make sure the components and parts you want covered are named, read the fine print on exclusions, and opt for coverage that includes service on the road, not just at your local dealer. If the warranty is transferable when you sell the car, it increases the car's value. Ask for a copy of the inspection sheet to check not only the brakes, but also the pads and the depth of the tire tread. Have all the light systems been inspected? How about the underbody?

Some CPOs look and feel like new when qual-ity care is performed. Each CPO under-goes a 160-point inspection and carries a six-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty. Truck beds and liners are reconditioned if necessary, and radio security codes are cleared. Ford's 115-point inspection includes the powertrain and chassis, and carries a six-year/75,000-mile warranty from the original date of purchase. Chrysler and Dodge CPO programs provide a factory-backed eight-year/80,000-mile powertrain limited warranty. Their vehicles have 65,000 miles or fewer on the odom-eter and are less than five years old.

Few manufacturers and dealers offer incentives or rebates on CPOs, but it's certainly worth shopping around to check. GM offers special financing programs and two- to three-year leases on CPOs. GM's incentives change every 60 to 90 days, and its most popular CPO trucks are medium-duty pickups. Many incentives and rebates aren't advertised, so be sure to ask at each dealership you visit.

Jill Amadio is Entrepreneur's "Wheels" columnist.

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