Those navigating this tough car market might want to skip one category altogether.
Certified used cars may present an especially bad value.
“I think it’s reasonable to question whether certified cars are really worth anything in terms of extra cost,” said Kevin Brasler, executive editor for Consumers’ Checkbook.
For starters, he’s not impressed with the additional warranties that come with manufacturer-certified cars, which are generally newer, lower mileage and have a lower risk of mechanical issues.
“But the biggest problem we’re seeing is that the dealers, they promise to make all these repairs to the car and they promise to make all these checks,” he said. “Big surprise — car dealers don’t always do what they’re supposed to do.”
“We found a car where its former life was as a federal crash test vehicle,” Brasler said. “We found cars that have had extensive flood damage.”
He added, “It is still very much when it comes to used cars ‘buyer beware,’ and that’s still the case when it comes to these certified cars.”
He says to take any used car to a mechanic to get checked out, and to even take it to a body shop to be looked at, too.
Brasler adds that while Carfax and similar services are “great tools for consumers,” they don’t always pick up on all problems. For example, if an owner paid cash for an accident repair and didn’t file an insurance claim, the accident may not show up on the report.