Certified with higher miles vs. not certified with lower miles

We’re about to buy a used car. We don’t drive much, maybe 6-8k miles a year. We’re looking at two options right now:

  1. A certified pre-owned vehicle sold by a local dealership. They’ve extended the warranty until 3/2023 or 100,000 miles, whichever comes first. It is a 2017 and has 48k miles on it.
  2. A non-certified pre-owned vehicle sold by a dealership over 1,000 miles away. They would ship the car to me. It’s a 2017, but only has 21k miles and is cheaper. The dealership gets 5 stars on Google and other rating sites.

With option #1, we have a warranty for almost 3 years, we can test drive the vehicle, and if something goes wrong we can take the car into the dealer that we bought it from to request that they make it right. On the other hand, 48k miles seems like a lot for 3 years, and it costs more than the vehicle that is the same model year but with less than half of the miles on it.

Option #2 is a low miles vehicle sold by a reputable dealership with great reviews. But it doesn’t come with any warranty or even any guarantee that a detailed inspection was done, and I’m concerned about what recourse we’d have (probably none) if something went wrong.

What do you think?

I think one would have to be very foolish to buy a car under those circumstances.


Great questions!

Option 1, “Certified Used” is marketing hype. It means nothing. The extra cost of the car is the cost of the extended warranty. That’s it. Many of the extended warranty companies are complete rip-off. The only extended warranty I’d consider is one from the manufacturer of the car… and I don’t buy extended warranties.

Option 2, No warranty so the cost is lower. That dealer has checked out the car because they don’t want to sully their reputation on poor cars. That said… find an independent mechanic near the dealer and PAY them to do an inspection on the car. Should cost you $125 or so. Best money you will ever spend.

If they give the OK, the cheaper, lower mile car is the one I’d pick and I would not buy an extended warranty, or paint sealant, or pinstripes, or whatever else the dealer wants to tack on.

If the dealer will give you a right of refusal on the car shipped to your home, or better yet, a 3-7 day return policy - in writing - I’d schedule your local mechanic to give it the once over after delivery.


I’m in agreement with both VDCdriver and Mustangman for the most part.

Option 2 is not even an option IMO. Any recourse over a problem would have to be taken care of in the state where that dealer is located. You really want multiple 2000 miles road trips or having to spend long distance lawyer money? What if that car arrives on a transport and the engine has a rod knock or that the reason the miles are so low is because the car has been sitting behind a body shop for ages during a legal squabble after being plowed into by a Kenworth or Ford Excursion? Six of one… :smile:
I always take internet reviews or complaints with a grain of salt.

Of the two, Option 1 would be my choice although I agree that CPO may not mean much. An inspection is only as good as the person doing that inspection and whether or not that mechanic/inspector at the dealership has just gotten screwed over on another job. If the mechanic has gotten ripped just recently the odds are much higher that he may just pencil whip that inspection and run it out the door.
Years ago I worked for a dealer that sold CPO cars and not one of those cars ever entered the shop for an inspection. They did enter the detail shop for cleaning so it’s assumed the “inspections” were done by the wash room guys who knew little to nothing about mechanical things.
Reason why? Wash room guy inspection is much, much cheaper than the service department…

And keep in mind that even with Option 1 warranty does NOT pay for every problem that crops up. If One is solid then it should last you forever at the rate you accrue miles.


Thanks! Appreciate your reply.

To clarify, the local dealer that is offering the warranty is the manufacturer of the car. As far as I know, it’s not a third-party extended warranty. In the description of the car, it says “The factory warranty has been extended until 03/30/2023 or 100,000 miles, whichever comes first.” Would your comments still apply?

Yes, I’d still avoid the car because IF the manufacturer has extended the warranty to 100K miles, I’d have to wonder why did they do that? You’d need to research the complaints about this particular model here: Carcomplaints.com

Plus it is still more expensive than the other car. I don’t know HOW much more expensive but combine that with the extra 27K miles, and I’d still go for Option 2.

What are these vehicles ? I personally would not buy a vehicle sight unseen used with out a test drive .
I also don’t think much of the CPO designation .

Why would you consider a car that is 1000 miles away? Is it so unique that there isn’t a suitable similar one much closer? I would not consider option 2 unless I went to the dealership, drove the car, then had it checked by a local, independent garage, despite the low mileage.

For option 1, see if you can find out how long it has been for sale. This information should be available on a CarFax that the dealer has often already paid for. You just download it from their web site. If it has been on the lot for longer than 3 months, make a offer much closer to the average dealer sales price without the CPO designation. You should still have it checked out by an independent garage, even though it is a CPO. Motorweek did a segment on CPO cars, and that was their recommendation.

As you can see from a number of replies… many are not comfortable buying a car while not standing beside it. A lot of these posters have significant knowledge about cars and could very well do their own inspections. Many could test drive the cars and tell right away that there is something amiss with the car. I think that affects their decisions about whether this is a reasonable way to purchase a car.

I personally would not sign on the dotted line until I had driven the exact car I was going to buy AND inspected the underside it while on a hoist.

That said, if the buyer is not a knowledgeable car person, and could not recognize these things themselves, what does it matter that the car is inspected by a mechanic 1000 miles away or in their own neighborhood? Also if there is a “right of refusal” or a return period, how would distance affect the deal? We are seeing sellers like Carvana doing exactly this. CarMax does this to a degree but the final test drive, inspection and buying process is the same as always.

Discuss… :smiley:

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That’s definitely me. I’m not a knowledgable car person and may not recognize issues. The car that is not local still has 7 months on the original manufacturer’s warranty, so at least I’d have some protection. The dealer that is selling it actually requires a local mechanic to inspect it if the buyer isn’t going to travel there to test drive it.

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The car 1000 miles away might be just fine or better. But, I would never buy a car sight unseen, not even a brand new one. I like to check it out, inside, outside, underneath, under the hood, then take it for a spin. I have had a dealer want to sell a brand new car to me with the rear quarter panel being painted. They said “we didn’t do it, they sometimes get damaged during the shipping and get painted, you still have the warranty”, and I was like yeah. I will think about it.
If I am buying a newer car, I prefer the CPO by manufacturer. If you think the mileage is high for your liking, look around, like within 100 miles so you can drive and check the car out. One with lower mileage might be $500 to $1000 more.

Again I ask , what are these vehicles just because I am nosy !

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Sorry, missed that last time. The local one is a Range Rover. The one that is out of the area is a Range Rover Sport. (This explains why the local one is more expensive, despite having more miles. I didn’t realize it wasn’t a Sport as well.)

Since this is a forum and we are allowed to post almost anything within reason here is mine.
I have a list of brands that I would never buy used and Range Rover is on it.



The thought of buying a new Range Rover from 1,000 miles away would be foolhardy enough, but the idea of buying a used Range Rover from that distance is sure to be an exercise in frustration.

I have to ask the OP:
Have you ever seen the reports/studies about the truly horrendous reliability of that marque?

One of my neighbors bought a new Range Rover several years ago, and during the first few years, it was in the dealer’s shop on an average of twice every month. Once the warranty was due to expire, he dumped it and resolved to never buy another Rover.

Apparently a lot of people don’t share your distaste for Range Rovers. I read an article last year that showed they hand the shortest time on the dealer’s lot of all brands sold in the USA. Surprised? So was I, but there it is.

I personally would go for the warranty, what is the cost difference?

I agree with @Barkydog since this is a Range Rover.

@switters, the extended warranty is a factory warranty, correct? A genuine CPO must have a factory warranty.

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I only have 3 words… Doug DeMuro CarMax

Google that, it is LOADS of fun to read his exploits of buying an extended warranty on one he bought from CarMax

I change my answer, go for the Option 1 with a 100K mile warranty! :hushed:

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Wow. I had read a little about their reliability, but the articles I read said “average” for newer models. That’s pretty horrific. I’m looking for a vehicle with a tow capacity of at least 7,000 lbs. that is not a truck or a huge Suburban or that type of SUV. Back to the drawing board I guess.