Car Corner
Cars for Photography - Part III: Certified Pre-Owned

June 9, 2015
By Scott Lewis

If you are following this series on buying my next car, and using it as a photography model, then you know we have begun whittling the list down. But a strange thing happened as I was looking at cars. I stumbled on a view cars that were Certified Pre-Owned.

You all know how this works. A manufacturer takes one of their own cars in as a trade, then they check it out and decide to sell it with a factory backed extended warrantee. All in the pursuit of selling it for more money.

But many people buy extended warrantees. I personally did with my first new car, back in 1988. But I have never since.

The main reason I decided to look into this is because of the best looking car on my list... the Mercedes Benz C-Series Coupe. This car looks fantastic, especially in red. It will make an excellent photo model. Both for location shots, and to test new techniques. Also, the photos can also be printed and used to show off printing styles and sizes. Yea, I can see a wall size photo of a Red C250 Coupe in a man-cave.

Mercedes' CPO program has changed in 2015. They now include unlimited mileage. Hmmm. As best I can tell from reading, the MB CPO warrantee extends the car's coverage 1 year past the original warrantee and has unlimited mileage. They also mention an optional year.

Let's take a look at that. The factory warrantee is 4 years/50,000 miles. I saw a really nice Certified 2012 C250 Coupe with 32k miles for $26,000. A small stretch of my budget. With my driving, I will have a good deal over 80K miles on the car by the time the extended warrantee runs out. Not bad. Depending on the cost of that extra year... it would take this car out to 2018 and over 105,000 miles. Under these circumstances... a purchase like this would be long term (which is dictated by the price as well).

Audi & BMW are a little simpler. Their CPO warrantees are 2 years/50,000 miles after the factory warrantee runs out, not to exceed 100,000 miles (Audi) or 6/100k (BMW). These match my driving reasonably well, depending on the starting mileage when (if) I purchase.

Notice I covered the German manufacturers. That's because German cars are expensive to repair... no matter what.

I am seriously considering the CPO thing if I get a German car. I don't think i would bother with a CPO car from Japan or the post bankrupt era American cars. Not because of reliability, but just because of the cost of repairs if they have to happen.

I really would not expect mush issues under 100K miles for any car, but you never know.