There's a growing sentiment that the best place for women shoppers in the used car market is the certified pre-owned segment. It's an idea that makes sense for a lot of reasons but women still need to be aware of the plusses and minuses of certified pre-owned.
Ann Fleming, president of Women-Drivers.com, wrote in an article at AutoRemarketing.com, "In a late-2011 study conducted by AutoTrader.com and Morpace, results show that 60 percent of new-car shoppers are more likely to consider a CPO vehicle this year, and 29 percent of them are open to buying a CPO vehicle for the first time."
The new car companies are well aware of that statistic, which is why their certified pre-owned programs have been slowly improving over the course of the last year. They're packing them with more benefits, which make them more attractive to women buyers.
Fleming makes some good observations in her article, especially this one: CPO Cars Lower the Risks of Buying a Used Car. That's the beauty of certified pre-owned. They come with strong warranties that provide an extra level of comfort. However, one thing certified pre-owned doesn't do is guarantee that there will be no problems with your used car. Even new cars have problems. (That's why we have Lemon Laws.)
When something does go wrong, there is one beautiful thing about a certified pre-owned used car warranty that you're not going to find with a standard used car warranty: portability. You will be able to bring your certified pre-owned used car to any similar dealership across the country (i.e. you buy a Ford, you can bring it to any Ford dealership in the country). Your repairs will be covered under your warranty no matter where you go, which is an added benefit most women may not think of when traveling.
It wasn't necessarily true earlier in 2012 but it is now. As Fleming pointed out, certified pre-owned vehicles allow women to own cars they could not afford new. For example, lets look at a 2011 Audi A4 vs. a 2012 Audi A4. According to KBB.com, the certified pre-owned Audi price would be $29,711. The MSRP for a 2012 Audi A4 is $33,375. As you can see, there is a 10% discount off the brand-new model.
Granted, the price you pay is going to be roughly equivalent to the standard first-year depreciation. So, it's somewhat ingenuous to talk about not having to deal the instant depreciation that happens when a new car rolls off the dealer lot. However, you are still paying less for a new car that is, except for the mileage, usually about 5% away from being a new car. To put it bluntly, no crappy used cars are found in the certified pre-owned lot.
Regardless, though, I think it's still a good idea to get a pre-purchase inspection for any used car, even a certified pre-owned model. If nothing else, it will verify the work has been done as claimed in the inspection report. (To be certified most used cars have to pass at least a 100-point inspection.) You're paying a premium for the certification designation, so it doesn't hurt to make sure the work was done like it was supposed to be.
You might stumble across some certified pre-owned cars in your travels that are little more than extended warranties backed up by insurance companies - and not the original manufacturer. Remember that the only certified pre-owned used cars you can buy at a Ford dealership are those that were originally made by Ford. You can't buy a certified pre-owned Chevrolet at a Ford dealership - at least not one that is backed by a warranty from Ford.
Finally, an excellent reason - that both men and women might appreciate - is special interest rates for certified pre-owned used cars that match new car loan rates. That really makes certified pre-owned cars a great deal for the more practical types who do not have to own the latest and the greatest. Instead, they just want to buy the best transportation possible for the money they can afford.
Speaking of financing, remember to run your credit report before purchasing a certified pre-owned car. It's a good step to take so you get the best interest rate. Don't rely on any car dealer for information on your credit history because they make money from brokering loans for banks and credit unions.