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Honda, Acura expand certified pre-owned program to cars as old as 10 years

·4 min read

Traditionally, the certified pre-owned cars you find at a dealership – those that must pass a more rigorous inspection and come with a factory warranty and roadside assistance – have been no more than three or four years old.

Not anymore: Honda says it's expanding its CPO program to cars as old as 10. (No, this isn't an April Fools' Day joke – and yes, we checked.)

The older cars won't be labeled as certified pre-owned Hondas or Acuras; they'll be called HondaTrue Used and Acura Precision Used. The goal for both programs is to attract younger, first-time buyers who might not otherwise be able to afford a new or CPO vehicle from either brand but want to own a car with a reputation for quality and durability.

The automaker, which says 53% of certified pre-owned customers are new to the brand and 42% later return to buy a new Honda vehicle, hopes this keeps them in the Honda family for years to come.

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"We're trying to build a relationship that lasts a lifetime," Dan Rodriguez, who leads Auto Remarketing for American Honda, tells USA TODAY by phone. "We look at it as a way to bring (young buyers) in through Honda TrueUsed, graduate them to CPO, which is a little bit newer car, and then eventually, bring them to a new car."

Putting Carvana, Carmax on notice

With the new program, which is already in place at some dealers with the rest of the network to follow by June, Honda is taking on not just other carmakers but third-party services like CarMax and Carvana.

Rodriguez says Honda had already been looking at the warranties and inspections on cars bought through third-party services like CarMax and Carvana – and found room to improve. "We put together a warranty that was competitive with what they offer" – if not more so.

And with new car prices up, used ones at record levels and no end in sight to supply chain woes, the timing was right.

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Here's what buyers get

The HondaCertified site breaks down which benefits come with each tier of the CPO program.
The HondaCertified site breaks down which benefits come with each tier of the CPO program.

One thing buyers need to understand up front: Neither the older Hondas or Acuras come with the same yearslong bumper-to-bumper and powertrain warranties you'd find on newer CPO vehicles. But they still come with more assurances than you'd get buying a regular used car.

HondaTrue Used vehicles, which are between six and 10 years old and don't have to meet a mileage requirement as long as they pass inspection, are the third tier of the automaker's CPO program, below its HondaTrue Certified+ (2021-2022 model years) and HondaTrue Certified (2017-2022) offerings. Vehicle listings on HondaCertified.com are now designated by tier and will soon appear on dealership and third-party sites like Autotrader.

Here's what buyers get with HondaTrue Used vehicles:

  • 100-day, 5,000-mile limited warranty on both powertrain and nonpowertrain parts.

  • Three-day or 300-mile exchange policy (for another Honda CPO car).

  • One free oil change during the first year or 12,000 miles.

  • Emergency roadside assistance for the duration of the nonpowertrain warranty, including towing to a local Honda dealership, flat-tire changes, emergency fuel delivery, lockout and battery jump services.

  • Trip-interruption reimbursement.

  • Complimentary 90-day SiriusXM trial.

Rodriguez says plans are also in the works to extend Honda Care prepaid service contracts – which cover crucial systems such as the engine, transmission, suspension, heating and cooling and fuel systems – to HondaTrue Used vehicles. They would be offered as a subscription-based model rather than rolling the entire contract into the purchase price.

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The Acura Precision Used classification is also for cars between 6 and 10 years old with no mileage limit. The warranty is a bit more generous than Honda's: Cars come with a 6-month/7,500 mile warranty on both the powertrain and other parts, one free oil change, a similar roadside assistance to package and a 7-day/ 300-mile exchange period.

Why not make the warranties longer? For one thing, the cars have already undergone a 112-point inspection process (which prospective buyers can download before test-driving). By comparison CPO vehicles must meet 182 criteria. The difference? With CPOs, the cars must look new, whereas with HondaTrue Used, the focus is on mechanical and safety issues.

"We think, the more important thing for the customer is knowing that they're getting a safe car that's reliable and that they have backing – not just the backing from an insurance type of warranty but a backing from the (manufacturer)."

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Honda, Acura to certify used cars up to 10 years old