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Buyer's and Seller's Advice

Should You Buy A Certified Pre-Owned Electric Vehicle?

ByJim Gorzelany, Editor

You’ll get a longer warranty and other perks thrown in on the deal.

Those shopping for a used electric vehicle can obtain added peace of mind by choosing a certified pre-owned (CPO) model. Vehicles offered under a manufacturer’s CPO program are usually later-model cars, typically six years old or newer, and with a limited number of miles on the odometer. Qualifying models must pass an extensive multi-point inspection, which means they’re generally the proverbial cream of the crop among used cars. 

Certified used cars typically come with extended warranties, roadside assistance programs, and other benefits. They’re sometimes offered with discounted financing programs. Be aware, however, that all EV makers already cover the battery under warranty for at least 8 years/100,000 miles or more (whichever comes first), and this coverage transfers automatically to a subsequent owner whether or not the vehicle is certified.

On the downside, CPO cars are usually priced higher than comparable non-certified models for the added warranty coverage and other perks. If you’re buying an EV from a different-brand dealership, it won’t be certified by the automaker. However, you can always purchase an extended warranty and roadside assistance coverage from a third-party provider if you feel it’s necessary.

Plus, though they’re inspected and are covered under warranty, buying a CPO vehicle doesn’t necessarily mean it’s perfect, so be sure to give it a good once over or, better yet have a trusted mechanic that’s EV-knowledgeable give it a look just in case the dealership may have missed something. Make sure you examine a used EV that has a full battery and check its state of charge to determine to what extent its range may have diminished (the www.fueleconomy.com has this information for all EVs, both new and from prior model years). Also, be sure to double check the fine print to know exactly what’s being covered, whether there are deductibles, and what exclusions are part of the deal. Each manufacturer details the terms of its CPO programs on their consumer websites.

Comparing Programs

Here’s a look at what electric vehicle makers are offering with their certified pre-owned programs. We’ve limited this information to models that have been on sale for at least a year and excluded vehicles, specifically the Fiat 500e and Honda Clarity Electric, for which we could find no CPO versions listed nationwide:

BMW

BMW’s certified pre-owned program includes the i3 and extends the car’s original 4-year/50,000-mile warranty for an extra year with unlimited miles. It also includes roadside assistance for six years from the vehicle’s original service date with no mileage limit. Trip interruption benefits are featured up to $1,000, along with a complimentary service loaner or alternative transportation while the car is being serviced.

Chevrolet

The Chevrolet Bolt EV is included in the automaker’s CPO program that uniquely includes the ability to bring the car back and exchange it for another one within 3 days/150 miles. The car’s powertrain warranty is extended to 6 years/100,000 miles from the original sale date. It also includes an additional 1-year/12,000 mile comprehensive warranty on top of what’s left of the original coverage. If your Bolt EV is in the shop, Chevy will provide alternate transportation or will reimburse travel expenses. It also extends roadside assistance coverage for 6 years/100,000 miles from the original service date. Further, the automaker will throw in two scheduled maintenance visits within 2 years/24,000 miles, a free Carfax vehicle report, and both three months of OnStar service and SiriusXM satellite radio.

Ford

The now discontinued Ford Focus Electric is included in the automaker’s CPO program, which includes a 1-year/12,000-mile comprehensive warranty and extends the powertrain coverage to 7 years/100,000 miles. It also includes roadside assistance and a free Carfax report.

Hyundai

The Ioniq Electric (and subsequently the Kona Electric when it reaches the resale market) is included in Hyundai’s certified pre-owned program, which transfers the remainder of the vehicle’s five-year bumper-to-bumper warranty and 10-year powertrain coverage; the latter otherwise does not transfer to a subsequent buyer. It also extends the roadside assistance coverage to 10 years/100,000 miles from the original service date, along with trip interruption ($100 per day for up to five days) and rental car reimbursement ($35 a day for up to 10 days).

Kia

The Kia Soul EV (and eventually the Niro EV when it begins showing up in dealers; used car lots) is included in the automaker’s CPO program. It transfers the remaining part of the car’s original 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty that otherwise doesn’t transfer to a second owner. It also includes 1-year/12,000 miles of its Platinum Coverage comprehensive warranty program, and extends the vehicle’s roadside assistance coverage to 10 years from the original service date with unlimited mileage. It also comes with a free Carfax report and three months of Sirius XM satellite radio service.

Nissan

Nissan extends the warranty on a certified pre-owned Leaf to 7 years/100,000 miles from the original date of service with a $50 deductible per visit. It also extends the vehicle’s roadside assistance coverage to seven years from the original date of service, and it includes both car rental assistance, and trip interruption reimbursement up to $500. Nissan CPO cars also come with a free Carfax report and three months of SiriusXM satellite radio service.

Smart

Though the brand will be disappearing from the U.S. market at the end of the 2019 model year, used Smart EQ ForTwo models will still be around. The brand’s CPO program extends the car’s warranty and roadside assistance plan to five years from the original sale date with unlimited mileage (technically, it’s 1,000,000 miles). If the original warranty has expired it’s 1 year/1,000,000 miles.

Tesla

All pre-owned Tesla models sold though dealerships are certified. Every used Tesla vehicle is inspected and comes with a bumper-to-bumper warranty. Model S and X models are covered by either a 4-year/50,000 additional mile warranty or 2-year/100,000 total mile warranty, depending on the vehicle’s age and mileage. The Model 3 simply gets the remainder of the original warranty. Tesla makes buying one easier in that you can place an order on a car online (pricing is not negotiable, however) that is ready for pickup, or reserve a car that will be ready for pickup in the near future. If you don’t live anywhere near a Tesla dealer, they’ll bring the car to you, albeit for a $2,000 transfer fee.

Volkswagen

VW’s CPO program applies to all of its models, including the eGolf. Cars from the 2017 model year and earlier get a 2-year/24,000 limited warranty, while 2018 and newer vehicles get a 1-year/12,000-mile extension of coverage. The program also includes a free Carfax report, roadside assistance coverage, and a three-month SiriusXM satellite radio trial.

 

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