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Archive for Thursday, September 23, 1999

CUSTOMERS DRAWN TO CERTIFIED USED CAR PROGRAMS

September 23, 1999

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Certified pre-owned vehicle programs offered through dealerships are proving popular with auto buyers.

If someone offered to sell you a used car that was virtually the same as a new one, yet would cost you thousands of dollars less, you'd buy it, right?

Consumers are being offered that choice these days at dealerships around the country -- Lawrence included -- and many are saying "yes" to that question.

In recent years, auto manufacturers have begun to offer certified pre-owned vehicle programs.

It's a trend that follows the lead established by luxury auto makers such as Lexus, BMW, Mercedes and Jaguar.

The attraction to consumers is that these programs can remove the guesswork -- and the potential disasters -- often associated with buying used cars.

Through these programs, manufacturers are putting their names behind select used vehicles -- in effect, certifying them.

Consumers are offered vehicles that meet various requirements, have been thoroughly inspected and feature special extended warranties.

Plus, customers often save thousands of dollars on vehicles no discernably different than new models.

'A superb car'

"Honda's Certified Used Car Program is absolutely wonderful for people who can't afford a new car but want dependability and a good warranty without paying extra for it," said Deborah Teague, sales person at Ellena Honda, 2957 Four Wheel Drive.

"When you buy a used vehicle offered in our program, you get a one-year/12,000-mile, bumper-to-bumper warranty that's in addition to any manufacturer's warranty still in effect on the car. Also, the powertrain's covered for six years/72,000 miles.

"That's a Honda warranty, so the work can be done on the vehicle at any Honda dealership," Teague said.

To be admitted into the program, a Honda vehicle must be within the last four model years or newer and have 59,000 miles or fewer on the odometer.

It then goes through a 150-point inspection, and any repairs that are needed are performed.

"I have people saying, 'I want a certified used car.' They'll wait for a particular vehicle."

The majority of the Hondas offered in the program come from lease-return sales. The dealership tries to find a variety of vehicles in a range of colors and trim levels.

"With a car from this program, you save money on depreciation costs, there's the warranty, and you're getting a superb car," Teague said.

'Virtually new'

Crown Toyota, 3330 Iowa, offers its customers the Toyota Certified Used Vehicles Program.

Only Toyota vehicles with less than 65,000 miles on them from the current and previous five model years are admitted.

They're backed with a six-year/100,000 mile powertrain warranty from the date of first use, plus one year of 24-hour roadside assistance.

Each vehicle goes through a 128-point, quality-assurance test and is reconditioned by Toyota-trained technicians.

"It's a great deal for customers," Jeff Andre, sales manager, said.

"The dealer has to spend more to recondition these vehicles than they normally would on a trade-in. That's money you don't have to spend.

"You do pay more for a factory-certified car, but you get what you pay for. These vehicles go through such an extensive reconditioning process that you're getting a virtually new car," Andre said.

Most of the vehicles offered through the program at Crown Toyota are lease-return autos that the dealership has purchased for resale.

Crown Toyota's offered the program since Toyota introduced it several years ago.

"It brings new people into the Toyota family who've not yet experienced Toyota quality, reliability and value," Andre said.

-- Jim Baker's phone message number is 832-7173; his e-mail address is jbaker@ljworld.com.

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