Are Certified Pre-Owned Warranties Better Than New Car Warranties?

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As Jalopnik’s resident car-buying expert and a professional car shopper, I get emails. Lots of emails. I’ve picked a few of your questions and will try to help out. This week we are discussing if certified pre-owned warranties are better than a new car and can dealers sell cars with illegal window tint.


First up, it seems like a certified pre-owned warranty can sometimes be better than a new car warranty.

“I’m curious as to why CPO warranties seem so much better than original factory warranties? I was looking at Mazda3 hatches and noticed that the CPI warranty is 100,000 miles, but the original is 36,000. I feel like I’ve noticed that on other brands, too. What is the deal?”

Some brands certainly seem generous with their warranty coverage on certified pre-owned vehicles. However, there are two key factors in regards to that coverage time and mileage. Keep in mind that CPO warranties usually start based on the original sale date. Also, you want to look at the details as to whether or not the coverage is bumper-to-bumper (also called comprehensive) or just powertrain.

Using your Mazda example, that automaker gives you a 1 year/12k comprehensive (on top of the standard coverage) and a 7yr/100k powertrain. Compared to the new car warranty that is 3yr/36 comprehensive and 5 yr/60k powertrain. A CPO Mazda would have a total of 4yr/48k comprehensive and 7yr/100k on the powertrain. Remember that the big stuff like engine and transmissions tend not to be the problematic parts.

While that seems like some solid coverage, remember it has to do with time as well. If you were to buy a 2019 Mazda with 25k miles your comprehensive coverage would expire 2023 or 48k miles whichever came first. Your powertrain would expire in 2026 or 100k total miles. If you were to buy a new Mazda your comprehensive coverage would last until 2024 or 36k total miles and your powertrain would be until 2026 or 60k total miles. In this instance, the new car warranty gives you more comprehensive coverage and the same time on the powertrain.

It’s usually the case that when you factor the age of the car, the CPO warranties give you almost as much coverage versus buying that car new.


Next, how can a dealer sell a car with window tint that violates local laws?

“My specific situation was I bought a used Dodge Charger a few years ago. On the lot the car had all windows tinted as well as head and tail lights. The majority of this was obviously illegal for my region, but doesn’t stop the average Charger buyer from doing it regardless.

When I agreed to purchase the car I told the dealership I wanted all tinting removed save for the rear passenger windows as that was allowed. They begrudgingly (and poorly) did so, but it’s made me think. They never bothered to remove this during the time the car was on the lot and based on the price reductions offered at that time was a somewhat extended timeframe.

I don’t doubt they would have let me drive off with all tint intact, so thus my question, does the dealer have no responsibility to make a used vehicle road legal, that may have been altered to become illegal at time of trade in? I understand some mechanical or more hidden modifications would be difficult to always catch and / or not cost effective to correct. But blacked out headlights is extremely obvious and in most jurisdictions, extremely illegal. “


Most dealers have an obligation to have a car pass inspection before the sale. Now whether or not local jurisdictions check for window tint as a part of their inspection process is another story. I would imagine this particular dealer was banking on a Charger customer wanting the fully blacked-out look, legal or not, and if a sale was hinged upon removing the tint they would do so at that time. Like many things that dealers are supposed to fix prior to sale, it takes a customer calling them out in order for them to do the right thing.

Got a car buying conundrum that you need some assistance with? Email me at!

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