Bloomberg/Getty Images

New Toyota cars are considered by many to be a sound investment. You can count on them to go the distance and retain a fair chunk of their value when it comes time to sell. But not everyone can afford to go new, so they look at used Toyota car.

The rows of cheap used cars sitting at a Toyota dealership may draw you in, but you have doubts. How do you know if this vehicle will go the distance? Will it be a money pit? Luckily, Toyota offers a certified vehicle program that can put those doubts to rest. What makes a certified pre-owned Toyota vehicle different from a standard used Toyota? We’re going to explain that along with looking at the various benefits and warranty coverage on offer.

How a Used Toyota Becomes Certified

For a Toyota vehicle to earn the certified pre-owned distinction, it has to meet some basic qualifications to even be considered. The vehicle must be seven years old or newer, and have under 85,000 miles on the odometer.  A CarFax check is run on the vehicle’s VIN (vehicle identification number) to learn about the history and find out key information such as if the odometer has been rolled back, if the vehicle was used as a taxi or some sort of fleet vehicle, and if it was involved in an accident.

From there, Toyota’s mechanics will perform a 160-point vehicle inspection that looks at various parts of the vehicle. Here’s what’s included in the inspection:

  • Brakes: Anti-lock braking system works, parking brake able to hold the vehicle, and no signs of grooves or heat damage on braking components.
  • Engine: Proper levels of fluids, signs of fluids leaking out, clues to sludge build up, and no strange noises or vibrations when the engine is idling.
  • Exterior: Body doesn’t have any dents and has a minimal amount of scratches; glass doesn’t show any sign of damage, and various aftermarket parts are removed.
  • Transmission: Smooth shifting when moving, shift lock works, and no signs of leaks from the transmission case or pan.

Hybrid models get an additional 14-points of inspection because of the various components that make the hybrid powertrain such as the electric motor and battery pack.

Once the inspection is completed and the vehicle is given a clean bill of health, mechanics do a reconditioning process and it is noted as a certified vehicle. From there, the certified vehicle is put alongside the other used Toyota cars in the lot.

Certified Pre-Owned Toyota Warranty


Out of all the volume manufacturers, Toyota offers one of the better warranty packages for their certified pre-owned program. For starters, all certified pre-owned Toyota vehicles get a 12-month/12,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty and 7-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty. The powertrain warranty also includes travel protection that reimburses you for lodging and meals if your vehicle more than 150 miles from home and needs to be repaired. Toyota will also reimburse you if you need to rent a vehicle while yours is being repaired. It should be noted that the powertrain warranty begins when the vehicle was first sold as new. Trying to figure how much you have left on the powertrain warranty if you are the second owner isn’t the easiest thing to keep track of. If you get a CPO Toyota hybrid, there is an additional 8-year/100,000-mile warranty for the battery.

In terms of bringing your car in for repairs, you’ll need to pay a $50 deductible and Toyota will cover the rest. Toyota also gives you a year of 24-hour roadside assistance that brings you such services as jump-starting a dead battery, providing fuel in case you run out, changing a flat tire, and towing you to the nearest Toyota dealer if needed. Toyota will reimburse you the costs of having your vehicle towed.

The warranty is transferrable when you decide to sell your vehicle. Unlike other programs where you need to pay a fee for the transfer, Toyota won’t charge you.

The only disappointing aspect of Toyota’s program is the inability to return or exchange the CPO vehicle. Chevrolet is one of the volume automakers that offers a 3-day/150-mile satisfaction guarantee. If you are not happy with the vehicle, you can exchange it for another.

Benefits of a CPO Toyota

All Toyota CPO vehicles get a free CarFax report that you can look at to learn about the history of the vehicle. If you need to finance your vehicle, Toyota will offer financing rates on certified pre-owned vehicles that are similar to offers on new vehicles. However if you want to get these offer, you’ll need to have a good credit score. Finally, Toyota gives all CPO vehicles a three-month trial of SiriusXM radio.