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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 vehicle? Try aCertified Pre-Owned (CPO) model. Meticulously inspected and underwarranty by the manufacturer, many CPOs are just off-lease,reliable, much less costly than new vehicles, and between two andfive 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, whosewebsite receives 1 million hits a day due to its range oftransaction and other reports. "You have to shop around. Welist the invoice and retail prices so buyers have the ammunitionthey need to negotiate." Prices on CPOs average $1,000 higherthan on used, non-CPO vehicles; but if you want buyer peace of mindwith the bonus of a factory warranty, inspection details, and ahistory and record of all work done, then a CPO vehicle fits thebill. Be sure, however, to look for the manufacturer certification.Some used-car lots claim CPO vehicles are certified, but that'snot always the case.

Most CPOs carry a warranty. Make sure the components and partsyou want covered are named, read the fine print on exclusions, andopt for coverage that includes service on the road, not just atyour local dealer. If the warranty is transferable when you sellthe car, it increases the car's value. Ask for a copy of theinspection sheet to check not only the brakes, but also the padsand the depth of the tire tread. Have all the light systems beeninspected? How about the underbody?

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

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

Jill Amadio is Entrepreneur's "Wheels"columnist.

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