Used-Car Certifications Often Not Meaningful
by Anthony Giorgianni
Last updated May 2022
Dealers promise rigorously inspected rides and peace-of-mind warranties, but we found some consumers get rebuilt wrecks and even a former crash-test vehicle.
Most used-car shoppers find the process a stressful ordeal filled with possible perils. They worry they’ll end up with an unreliable vehicle, and they don’t feel comfortable dealing with car salespeople: A 2022 Gallup poll found them to be the second-most-hated profession in the U.S.; only lobbyists fared worse. Worst of all, supply-chain problems for new-car factories have created a surge in demand for used ones—during the first quarter of 2022, average prices for secondhand rides were up 35 percent compared to the previous 12 months. Competition is so stiff that many used cars are purchased sight unseen by desperate buyers.
To reassure used-car buyers worried about getting stuck with a lemon, manufacturers in the 1990s began offering “certified” used cars. They’re marketed as the crème de la crème of the secondhand auto world and even come with manufacturer-backed warranties.
But our research uncovered that certified labels don’t guarantee vehicles won’t have serious hidden mechanical or structural problems. We were astonished by some of the flaws we discovered, many that should have been noticed during promised inspections. We also found certified cars that were totaled wrecks that were rebuilt and resold, and even an SUV previously owned by the government and used in crash tests.
Because manufacturers count on their dealers to conduct the promised inspections needed to certify vehicles, certification labels are only as reliable as the diligence of the dealerships and their mechanics in doing the screening tasks and fixing any problems they find. And our research indicates they’re not always diligent. . . .
(Read the whole thing at https://www.checkbook.org/puget-sound-area/used-car-certifications-often-not-meaningful/)