You’re probably more than familiar with the term “pre-owned car,” or perhaps a synonym like “used car.” They are not strangers to any of us, but another curious term also does the rounds that some are less familiar with – “Certified Pre-Owned” (CPO).
VW-owned luxury brand Audi is one of many companies to offer such a scheme. In today’s blog, we will first explain what the difference is between a regular pre-owned Audi and an Audi CPO vehicle. After that we will explore the reasons why they may (or may not) be worth choosing over other used options.
Audi Certified Pre-Owned Vehicles
In order to be a part of the Audi CPO program, the Audi vehicle in question has to meet a number of criteria. These include Audis…
- …of no more than 5 years old
- …with no more than 60,000 miles on their odometer
- …with no aftermarket modifications
- …with a valid vehicle history report and verified mileage
- …that passing the above four criteria can also then pass a full inspection.
Audi CPO Inspection
As we just touched on, all Audis in the program that meet the first 4 criteria are then subject to a rigorous inspection. The full checklist is exhaustive, but a sample of the important points include checking the functionality of components like your dome light, fuel door release, audio system, windows, seat belts, transmission, brakes and more.
There’s also a general look at the vehicle’s condition, fluid levels, undercarriage, wheels and tires, etc.
Just about every part gets the once over to make sure it works. According to Audi, it’s an inspection of more than 300 points. That’s double the more usual 150-point inspection that most auto companies would carry out.
The other key thing to understand about the Audi Certified Pre-owned program is their policy on warranties. The standard bumper-to-bumper warranty on new Audis is typically 4 years or 50,000 miles along with 4 years of Audi 24-hour roadside assistance. When you buy an Audi CPO vehicle, you get one of two warranty options:
- The in-effect existing warranty from manufacture
- A special Audi CPO Warranty
Audi Certified Pre-Owned Warranty
One very interesting feature of the Audi CPO Warranty is that there is no mileage limit placed upon it. It’s also a true “bumper-to-bumper” warranty, rather than one divided between drivetrain, powertrain, etc.
This neatly helps us to explain the stringent checks carried out upon the vehicle before it can be entered into the Audi CPO program.
Despite there being no mileage limit, there is a time limit. Once the Audi CPO Warranty kicks in, it is valid for 12 months, which may seem a short time but is perhaps fair given the extensive coverage that it offers.
There’s no deductible for the covered repairs, and as long as you get the work done at a bona fide Audi dealership, there is an exhaustive list of items covered.
Here’s a sample: Engine block, pistons, camshaft, cooling system, coolant pump, suspension, transmission (including control module and internal shift rods), brakes, a/c, radio, navigation and more.
It doesn’t cover tires, basic maintenance or issues related to normal wear, damage or negligence, all of which are determined by a qualified Audi technician. That’s pretty typical of a warranty arrangement, of course.
Audi CPO – Is it Worth It?
Now we come to the core question of today’s blog. Is the Audi Certified Pre-Owned program worth it if you’re wanting to buy a used Audi? It’s impossible to deny there are some perks, but there’s enough downside, too.
Benefits of Audi Certified Pre-Owned
The description of the program above reveals many of the best points about the program.
The first advantage is that you are guaranteed a comprehensive warranty, regardless of the age of the car when you take it on. If the original warranty is still active, then it will continue until the 4-year or 50,000-mile period has expired, after that, you also get the 12-month Audi CPO Warranty as well, ensuring that you are covered for major points for a large part of your ownership.
It’s always a recommended course of action to get a pre-owned car independently checked, but Audi’s attention to detail with a 300+ point check is an impressive addition that makes Audi CPO vehicles all the more credible as safe purchases.
This leads us to a further main advantage of the Audi Certified Pre-Owned program.
Ease for the Buyer
Buying a used car can be quite an unnerving experience. There are always so many horror stories, so many pitfalls, and so many things that can go wrong.
Finance can be tricky to get, so you need to pay cash, but what if after just a few months the engine fails? It’s always a huge risk. Then there’s the warranty expiring. Without its protection, failing components can result in auto shop bills ranging to many thousands of dollars.
In all of this lies the benefit of the Audi CPO program, then. It allays many of these fears with the slew of guarantees of quality and protection should things go wrong. The entire experience of buying is more reassured, and therefore much likely more enjoyable.
Drawbacks of Audi Certified Pre-Owned
Like anything else, there are disadvantages with the Audi CPO program, too.
Any certified pre-owned car that you buy will come with a “CPO premium” which refers to the extra cost that is passed on to you from those extra steps we described further above. The thorough nature of Audi’s criteria, and the already inherent expense and retained value of an Audi vehicle less than 5 years old mean that Audi has among the highest CPO premiums of any brand.
A list of average CPO premiums was compiled by iSeeCars in 2019. As certified pre-owned cars go, the absolute best value would be the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited with a CPO premium of just 1.6 percent ($523). Audi, on the other hand, is among the iSeeCars list’s most expensive. It’s in the top 10 in fact.
For an Audi Certified Pre-Owned vehicle, you’d pay an average CPO of $1,480, or 6.7 percent.
It’s not as high as you’d pay for a Lexus or Mercedes-Benz, but this figure is also taken by using the Audi A4 as an example, which isn’t the most expensive Audi you might select.
Problems Still Exist
Coupled with the additional expense, there’s the further fact that no amount of thorough inspection now can guarantee there won’t be serious problems down the line. A used car has already been put through the mill by one or multiple owners, and no amount of stringent checking can remove the wear and tear that has already happened.
Checking 300 points doesn’t mean that 300 things are repaired or replaced. It just means that the 300 points meet a minimum standard of condition for use by a new owner.
Conclusion: Audi CPO Has Benefits, but Isn’t for Everyone
There are clearly many great advantages to buying within the Audi Certified Pre-Owned program. If you’re both willing to pay the premium, and feel strongly that you need the peace of mind because you won’t be able to ever be sure by yourself, then it’s a great choice for buyers.
Others, however, can achieve many of the same points as the Audi CPO program without being a part of it. They can have an independent inspection conducted on the vehicle, they can learn in advance things to check or look out for when test driving an Audi, and so on.
If you have reasonable confidence that you can determine the quality of the vehicle for yourself, then you should get yourself a better bargain by buying a regular pre-owned model.