Buying a new Cadillac can be expensive. But buying a used one can be risky. So, what’s a budget conscious, risk adverse Caddy fan to do? Fortunately, there’s an answer, an answer that comes in the form of certified pre-owned (CPO) cars. While they usually command a higher price than non-certified Cadillac’s, CPO’s come with a host of extremely attractive benefits that for many would be Caddy-owners, more than justifies the price. For a start, most carry a limited warranty (always a good thing to have). Roadside assistance and loaner vehicles are also usually included in the price. If you want peace of mind and aren’t afraid to pay for it, a certified pre- owned Cadillac could be your ideal match.
But that’s not to say that CPOs are for everyone. Neither is it to say they don’t come without their problems. As with any major purchase, you need to go into the deal with both eyes wide open. If you expect never to experience any issues with a car simply because it carries CPO status, it’s time to wake up and smell the coffee. Like any other type of vehicle, CPO’s can break down, they can fault, they can rust. Sometimes, they might not even be a CPO at all (yep, dealers can be shifty). If you want to minimize the risk, you need to know exactly what to watch out for.
The Benefits of Getting a Certified Pre-Owned Cadillac
When you consider the perks of buying a certified pre-owned Cadillac, you have to wonder why more people aren’t jumping on the bandwagon. Some of the advantages you can expect of the program include….
You’ll be Working with a Franchised Dealer
When you buy a used Cadillac on the open market, you’re opening yourself up to risk. When you buy a certified pre-owned Cadillac, that risk isn’t eliminated entirely, but it is minimized. As caranddriver.com notes, the main explanation for the lower risk is that only franchised dealers sell CPO vehicles, and they only sell their own brand (e.g. Toyota dealers sell only Toyota, Cadillac dealers only sell Cadillac). The upshot of this is that you’ll be working with an established dealer with a direct link to the manufacturer. The chances of any shady dealings are therefore minimized – a used car dealer might be willing to put themselves in GM’s bad books, but a franchised dealer is unlikely to want to do the same.
You’ll Have Greater Access to Current Models
Most certified pre-owned Cadillac’s are cars that have been taken back by the dealer at the end of their lease or as trade – ins. What does this mean? It means the CPO program gives you access to the kind of low mileage, new generation vehicles that you’re unlikely to have access to on the general used car market. If you want to drive what could essentially pass as a new vehicle without paying for the privilege, a CPO gives you the opportunity.
You’ll Get Warranty as Standard
The chances of you getting a normal used car with a warranty are minimal. The chances of you getting a certified pre-owned Cadillac with a warranty is guaranteed. As cars.usnews.com notes, all certified pre-owned Cadillac’s carry a six-year/100,000-mile limited warranty. If the vehicle’s original manufacturer’s warranty is still in place, this will be transferred over as well. As an additional benefit, the certified warranty will only come into effect on the date the original warranty expires, ensuring you don’t lose out by having two warranties running simultaneously.
You’ll Have Access to Some Great Perks
When you buy a used car, don’t expect much by way of additional perks. If the seller is nice, they might throw in a few cans of anti-freeze, but that’s about the extent of it. When you buy a certified pre-owned Cadillac, you’ll get perks a-plenty. Some of the standard extras included in the sale price include 24-hour roadside assistance and a loaner vehicle during warranty repairs. If the car you settle on comes with satellite radio capability, you’ll get the benefit of a three-month free trial from the service; if it has OnStar equipment, expect a three-month OnStar trial that includes Automatic Crash Response, Vehicle Diagnostics, Turn-by-Turn Directions, and the Remote Link OnStar app.
You’ll Enjoy Better Peace of Mind
Not every car can become a CPO. Before a Cadillac is entitled to claim the title, it needs to undergo a 172-point inspection at an official Cadillac dealership. The inspection is nothing if not comprehensive, covering an under-hood inspection, an under-vehicle inspection, an interior and exterior inspection, and a road test. In addition to the inspection, the service history of the car must be verified and any scheduled maintenance needs to be completed prior to the car being offered for sale. If there are any safety recalls in place against the model, all necessary repairs and replacements must be performed. In short, a certified pre-owned Cadillac must be in good shape before it gets to join the program, giving you the kind of peace of mind that you simply won’t get when you buy a regular used car.
Things to be Aware of Before Getting a Cadillac Certified Pre-Owned
Nothing in this life is guaranteed, not least perfection. Certified pre- owned Cadillac’s might be a step above a regular used car, but that doesn’t mean they’re still not used cars. As Michelle Primm, general manager at Cascade Auto Group in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, tells edmunds.com, “You can never take a used car and make it new again” – a truth that applies no matter how vigorous the inspection or how exemplary the service history.
But that isn’t to say a CPO Cadillac can’t be a great deal. It simply means that like any other car purchase, you need to know what to look for, what to avoid, and what to do.
How to Avoid CPO Problems
When you buy a certified pre- owned vehicle, you get a ton of perks, for sure. But don’t let those perks distract you from the main subject of the deal. You’re not buying roadside assistance, you’re not buying a free OnStar trial, and you’re not buying a limited warranty. You’re buying a car. And when it comes to making sure a car is right for you, the same process applies regardless of whether it’s a used car from a private seller or a CPO from a franchised dealer. If you want to avoid landing up with a big regret and an even bigger hold in your budget, be sure to follow these top tips.
Beware the Cunning Dealer
Only franchised Cadilac dealers are allowed to sell certified pre- owned Cadillac’s. But that doesn’t stop private sellers and used car dealers from trying to steal a slice from the pie. As richiebelloblogs.com notes, some less than scrupulous dealers will stick a poster or banner on a vehicle to advertise it as ‘certified’. But in this case, the word ‘certified’ is meaningless. The only entity that can certify a Cadillac is Cadillac itself. An unfranchised dealer may have put the car through an inspection of sorts, but what that inspection involved, and what it bought to light, only they really know. If you want a certified pre- owned Cadillac, go to a Cadillac dealer. When you buy a ‘certified’ Cadillac from anyone else, you’re paying for the privilege of a word that in this context, is absolutely meaningless.
Inspect the Car Yourself
To enter the CPO scheme, a car needs to be thoroughly inspected by the dealer. But that doesn’t mean you can afford to skip your own inspection. While you’re far less likely to come away with a death trap from a franchised dealer than you from an unlicensed seller, not all franchised dealers are cut from the same cloth. If you make the assumption that the word ‘Cadilac’ on their sign means you can forget common sense and take their word blindly, you’re opening yourself up to a world of trouble.
Even if the dealer is entirely trustworthy, nothing (and nobody) is perfect. No matter how thorough the inspection, human error happens. Something may have been overlooked or slipped under the radar. Always check the vehicle out for yourself – you might not be a mechanic, but you’ll still be able to complete a preliminary inspection to rule out the most common problems.
As hubercadillac.com notes, areas to concentrate on include:
Pitting can be a common problem in used cars. Consisting of small, indented areas of corrosion, pitting isn’t always obvious to the naked eye. Dragging your nail lightly against the windshield to check for any bumps or indents will usually highlight if there’s a problem. Other than that, the windshield should also be clean and free of any obvious cracks or spider fractures.
Be sure to give the exterior of the vehicle a once-over. Look out for any dents, dings, or signs of rust, all of which can signal that the previous owner either didn’t maintain the car properly or had an accident in it at some point.
While the outside of a car is subject to the natural elements, the inside is subject to US – and trust us when we say that’s not always a good thing. The interior of the vehicle will give you a good idea of whether the last owner cared about their car or simply saw it as a convenient alternative to public transport. Although a Cadillac certified pre-owned car should always have been professionally cleaned and repaired prior to being advertised for sale, it’s always best to make sure it’s up to your standards. Check for any signs of damage that go beyond the normal levels of wear and tear you can expect of a used car (this could include torn seat fabric; trapped or ingrained grime and dirt in the corners and under seats; and any lingering bad smells). If it stinks of smoke and looks like the last owner spent more time living in their car than they did their house, skip it.
Bring Along a Second Pair of Eyes
If you know less about cars than you’d like to, don’t simply rely on your own judgment when it comes to deciding whether a CPO is worth the expense. If you have a friend or relative who knows their stuff, ask them to come along to inspect the car with you. If not, it’s worth asking a local mechanic if they wouldn’t mind checking it out – even if they charge a small fee, it’s still worth it when you consider how much more money you could be throwing away if you buy a rust bucket.
Review the Warranty
The warranty a CPO vehicle carries depends on who made it. A Lexus, for example, will come with a 2-year unlimited milage certified warranty and the balance of any new car warranty it has remaining. A Cadillac, on the other hand, will get a 6 year/100,000-mile limited warranty from the date the car was first sold. If you’ve any doubts or questions about what services and repairs the certified warranty covers, be sure to clarify your concerns with the dealer. While you’re at it, check whether the car is still under its original warranty. If it is, this can be transferred to you, with the certified warranty then kicking in only once the original warranty expires.
Also be sure to check the small print of the warranty paperwork. Cadillac, like every other manufacturer, requires that you follow their maintenance schedule to validate the warranty. They also stipulate that all servicing and repair work is completed at a franchised dealership. Fail to do either, and that attractive warranty package becomes next to useless.
Stay Flexible on Vehicle Choice
While it’s always helpful to know what kind of body style and model you want when you enter the buying process, don’t be so rigid as to overlook perfectly acceptable cars just because they’re a slightly different model year or color than what you were hoping for. While the CPO market covers a big range of vehicles, it’s not exhaustive. A few more miles on the clock, a slightly different interior, or a different shade of paint aren’t reasons to disregard a car offhand – stay flexible in your decisions, and you’re far less likely to come away from the deal empty handed.
As we’ve seen, buying a Cadillac certified pre-owned vehicle comes with a lot of benefits. Granted, it’s not the same as buying a brand spanking new model, but it’s as close as you’re ever going to get to one on the used market. But for all the advantages of the CPO program, it doesn’t let you get away with not doing your homework. No scheme is perfect, and if you don’t go into the process with your eyes open and your common sense firmly in place, you won’t be leaving it with a smile on your face. Go into it knowing the risks and how to mitigate those risks, on the other hand, and you’ll be getting all the joy of an (almost) new Cadillac at just a fraction of the cost.