Certified Pre-Owned vs. Regular Used Cars: Making the Right Choice

By: San Antonio Used   |   31 Dec 2023

As more and more San Antonio drivers are warming up to the idea of purchasing used vehicles over brand-new models, many of our customers now find themselves torn between purchasing from a Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) inventory or selecting from a range of regular used cars. By definition, a certified pre-owned vehicle is one that has been vetted and deemed to be in better operating condition than other used vehicles. Essentially, these vehicles offer many of the benefits of both new and used cars. To help you decide which option is right for you, the team at San Antonio Used Cars is here to give you an in-depth rundown so you can hopefully make an informed decision on your next visit to the lot!

What Is a Certified Pre-Owned Car?

A certified pre-owned (CPO) car refers to a used vehicle that has undergone a thorough inspection and refurbishment process. This process adheres to specific manufacturer or dealer standards, allowing the vehicle to attain the "certified" status. These standards typically focus on criteria such as the car's age, mileage, as well as its overall interior and exterior condition.

CPO programs are typically supported by the vehicle's manufacturer or an authorized dealership. These entities enforce stringent guidelines to guarantee the quality and dependability of the certified cars.

Pros and Cons of Certified Pre-Owned Cars


  • Warranty coverage and extended warranties: CPO vehicles provide a manufacturer-backed or dealer-certified warranty, unlike regular used cars. This warranty offers protection against unexpected repairs for a specific duration, varying from one to several years.
  • Thorough inspection and refurbishment: CPO cars undergo a comprehensive evaluation to identify mechanical and cosmetic defects. This thorough inspection ensures that the vehicle is free from issues, giving buyers confidence and reducing the likelihood of hidden problems emerging later on.
  • Peace of mind and reduced risk: Purchasing a fully inspected and refurbished vehicle through a CPO program offers buyers peace of mind. The assurance of a thorough inspection reduces the risk of encountering long-term expenses due to unforeseen issues.
  • Potential access to manufacturer incentives and financing: CPO buyers may benefit from special incentives and financing options offered by manufacturers. These incentives can include reduced interest rates on auto loans or cashback offers, potentially lowering the overall cost of purchasing a CPO car.


  • Higher initial cost due to extended warranty coverage
  • Limited selection of models and options
  • Certification criteria may vary, so you must research the car

What Are Regular Used Cars?

Non-certified or regular used cars do not undergo a rigorous certification process like their CPO counterparts. They are typically sold as-is, lacking the additional assurances and guarantees that come with the certified status. These cars are available through independent dealerships, private sellers, and various online marketplaces. Regular used cars often offer a broader selection of different models and makes compared to certified pre-owned vehicles.

Pros and Cons Regular Used Cars


  • Lower initial cost: Regular used cars have undergone some depreciation, making it feasible to purchase a relatively recent model at a more affordable price compared to new cars or CPO vehicles.
  • Greater variety of models, makes, and model years: The regular used car market provides an extensive array of options, from vintage classics to cost-effective daily drivers, offering buyers a wide selection to choose from.
  • Potential for negotiation: Buyers have the opportunity to negotiate the price when purchasing a regular used car from private sellers or dealerships. Unlike CPO cars with fixed prices, there's more flexibility to reach a financial agreement that benefits both the seller and buyer.
  • Lower insurance costs: Insurance premiums for regular used cars are typically lower due to the reduced risk of theft associated with older vehicles. These savings contribute to reducing the overall cost of ownership over time.


  • Uncertainty about the vehicle's history report and condition
  • Potential for additional car maintenance and repairs
  • Higher risk due to no warranty or limited warranty coverage

Find Quality Used Cars at San Antonio Used

Certified pre-owned cars and regular used cars have their unique set of benefits. Whether you'd prefer the peace of mind of a certified preowned vehicle or the reduced costs of a regular used car, the team at San Antonio Used Cars can help. Browse our inventory or contact us today!


Contact Us

Leave us a voicemail
or send us a message

Give us a call at (210) 245-6446 or click here to send us a message!

17811 San Pedro Avenue, San Antonio, TX 78232