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If you don’t have the budget for a brand new car, but you’re intrigued by Mercedes-Benz’ combination of luxury and performance, you have options. Take a look at the Mercedes Certified Pre-Owned program. Shopping the certified pre-owned (CPO) section is a smart way to find a car or SUV that costs less yet still conforms to the brand’s high standards. CPO vehicles also include a warranty, which is uncommon for most used cars. Mercedes-Benz markets their CPO program as offering “unlimited peace of mind,” but is that really the case? Let’s take a look.

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Next time you’re at your local Mercedes dealership, take a stroll to the used lot and look for models labeled Certified Pre-Owned. This designation means that the vehicle (usually a trade-in or a lease return) first met Mercedes’ specific program criteria and was then subjected to a thorough inspection to earn the certification.

What Mercedes Vehicles Are Eligible?

To be eligible, a used Mercedes vehicle must be less than six years old and must have accumulated less than 75,000 miles. (Dealerships still take in and sell used Mercedes vehicles that are older or have been driven more; they just won’t be put through the CPO process or certified.)

Inspection Process

Eligible vehicles first go through an 11-point general inspection that looks for structural damage, performs diagnostic testing, confirms that the car comes with all keys and documentation, and reviews the vehicle’s history, maintenance, and recalls. The next inspection is a 13-point process that examines the engine bay and other drivetrain components, the battery, and fluid levels. Then, a 16-point check dives deeper into the engine and components, followed by a 32-point electrical system test. The undercarriage and drivetrain get a 17-point check, followed by a 26-point chassis and body check that examines everything from interior components (such as seatbelts) to exterior and body components (such as sunroof functionality and window glass integrity).

At this point, the vehicle is deemed worthy of a 14-point road test to ensure it functions perfectly while being driven. The three-point post-road inspection goes back and re-checks the climate control system and fluid levels. Finally, the soon-to-be-CPO Mercedes heads to the detail shop for a 32-point appearance inspection to make it look and feel new again, inside and out. By the time the vehicle is certified, it’s aced a 164-point process.

Warranty

If the CPO vehicle still has coverage under its four-year/50,000-mile new car warranty, that coverage is transferred to the buyer. On expiration of that coverage (if applicable) or on the date of the CPO transaction, the owner gets a certified limited warranty for one year with unlimited mileage. The owner also has the option to purchase an additional one-year or two-year extended warranty with unlimited mileage.

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The warranty covers the engine and powertrain, steering system, suspension system, braking system (except wear parts), electrical system, and climate control system. Potential buyers can contact a dealership for more details. These warranties are transferable to the next owner if the car is sold, and there is no deductible for maintenance or repair work performed under warranty.

In the Event of Mechanical Trouble

Furthermore, the Mercedes-Benz Certified Pre-Owned warranty includes 24-hour roadside assistance (for minor problems like jump-starts and flat tires), and trip-interruption reimbursement, in the event that a covered repair disrupts travel. The trip interruption coverage kicks in when the car breaks down (for a mechanical problem covered under warranty) more than 100 miles from home. While the car is repaired at the nearest Mercedes dealership, the owner is eligible to be reimbursed up to $300 a day for three days for alternate travel, lodging, and meal expenses.

Mercedes CPO Financing Deals

Like most automakers, Mercedes-Benz switches up their special financing offers on a monthly basis. Sometimes these deals include special financing on certain CPO models, so if you’re considering a used Mercedes, you can save some money by timing your purchase with one of these low-APR financing offers.

How to Shop for a Mercedes CPO Vehicle

Ready to shop? Mercedes’ website has a section dedicated to finding the perfect CPO vehicle. You can also use U.S. News & World Report's used car listings to search for CPO vehicles. The search feature lets buyers narrow down the pool by location, year, price, body style, color, mileage, and engine type.

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After selecting a vehicle using U.S. News' used car listings, customers can see detailed information, including photos, mileage, VIN, options and features, and comments from the dealership. Online price quotes are available, too, and potential buyers can contact the dealership for answers to any questions that may arise.

After You Buy

After buying a CPO Mercedes-Benz, it’s time to enjoy. If you change your mind and decide you’d rather have a different CPO Mercedes model, you have seven days (or 500 miles) to return to the dealership and arrange a swap for a vehicle of equal or greater value (though a more expensive vehicle requires the buyer to pay the difference).

More Tools From U.S. News & World Report

If you’d like to check out late-model Mercedes-Benz vehicles, our used car rankings and new car rankings are a great place to start. You can find even more savings by checking out the monthly manufacturer incentives on our Mercedes-Benz deals page.