Most automotive-industry pundits agree on only one thing when it comes to any automaker’s certified pre-owned (CPO) program:  All agree that a used but certified pre-owned (CPO) vehicle is going to cost you big bucks, relatively speaking, of course.

This is as opposed to buying a used car from a private party, or a used car that isn’t presented as “certified” from an independent retailer.

On the other hand, what the pundits hardly ever agree on is whether these programs are worth that extra cost, or not.

This is where you come in to the picture:  Here’s your chance to arrive at a solution to this dilemma for yourself if you are considering the Porsche Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) Program.  Hopefully this article will help you do just that.

Most important (and probably why you now find yourself on our Porsche-centric website in the first place), the question at hand before us is, “How does the Porsche Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) Program rate?”  Or does it?

But, first, let’s begin with a little basic background on the subject in general. . .

Introduction to the Basic Concept of All Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) Programs

The essence of the basic CPO concept boils down to the following two (2) assurances implied by any certified pre-owned (CPO) program:

1.  The prospective CPO vehicle has led a relatively charmed life up to now, with the proper scheduled maintenance and servicing, as well as its lack of any major accidents or other evils.

2.  A handsome extended warranty will come with the vehicle, thus reassuring the prospective buyer that the dealership will gladly exorcise any and all unforeseen mechanical gremlins from the vehicle in the future.

But here’s the rub when it comes down to the rubber meeting the road:

  • Industry standards are nonexistent.  There is a broad spectrum of CPO program parameters as set by each auto manufacturer.  Whereas the Porsche Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) Program requires its vehicles to be eight years old or less in model years, as well as under 100,000 miles, most other programs have much shorter age and mileage criteria, for example.
  • CPO warranties vary greatly from automaker to automaker.  As there are no standards in CPO program parameters, warranties have no uniform coverage criteria.  But you can safely assume that you won’t receive the same comprehensive bumper-to-bumper coverage that you would on an original new-car factory warranty.
  • You will pay a premium for the privilege of buying a Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) vehicle.  Depending on the respective automakers’ CPO programs that you are considering, this extra cost varies from a few hundred dollars to perhaps as much as $5,000 or more.
  • Dealers make the final call on assigning CPO status — not the automaker.  Sure, some auto manufacturers prescribe stringent inspection protocols, but they don’t have the final say on CPO qualifying status — the local authorized dealers make that call, sometimes even on vehicles that may actually have failed inspection.
  • Anyone can “self-certify” one’s own used cars for sale.  Beware used-car lots of automaker-unaffiliated, independent resellers.  There’s nothing stopping these outfits from creating their own “inspection” programs and deceivingly touting their cars as “certified pre-owned” vehicles.

Scary, huh?  No worries.  We’re not diehard Porschephiles for nothing, are we?  The Porsche brand does possess significant intrinsic value and worth, after all.  So, please, do read on. . .

Porsche Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) Program: Porsche 911 Turbo Aerokit. Credit: Porsche AG
Credit: Porsche AG

Porsche Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) Program:  Overview

The Porsche Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) Program is viewed as one of the best by automotive-industry pundits and insiders alike.

There are two benchmarks for “Porsche Approved” factory-backed, extended-warranty coverage — cars still under warranty and those no longer under warranty:

  • Cars under warranty — up to 6 years coverage or 100,000 total miles from the time of used retail delivery
  • Cars no longer under warranty — the warranty extends to the earlier of 2 years or 50,000 miles from used retail delivery, but not exceeding 100,000 total vehicle miles

In addition, not only is the Warranty completely transferable to future purchasers of the vehicle, but it also carries no deductibles on repair costs.

Finally, roadside assistance is rolled into the package, as is the case for Porsche’s New-Car Warranty.

Porsche Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) Program:  In-Depth Analysis

The Lowdown – Porsche CPO Program Features and Details

Given Porsche’s venerable, stellar standing in the global automotive industry, it stands to reason that the Porsche Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) Program would also yield significant value.

Indeed, the Porsche CPO Program is no exception according to consensus within the industry.  It is universally considered one of the best CPO programs in the marketplace.

Vehicles that are first considered for the program are typically trade-ins or lease returns to an authorized Porsche dealership, which slates such vehicles for resell.

The ones that make the cut to enter the Porsche Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) Program are known as “Porsche Approved” vehicles.  This appellation is intended to connote the high standards and quality for which the name Porsche stands.

The implication is further bolstered by the fact that all such Porsche Approved vehicles are inspected by, as well as serviced by, Porsche Certified technicians — using only Genuine Porsche parts.

Eligibility for enrollment into the Porsche Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) Program applies to current model-year vehicles, as well as to vehicles up to eight previous model years.  In any case, every candidate vehicle must have less than 100,000 miles.

Porsche Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) Program: Porsche CPO Checklist, Page 1. Source: PCNA
Porsche Approved CPO Vehicles 111-Point Checklist, Page 1 of 2. Source: PCNA

Furthermore, all CPO candidates must pass a rigorous inspection.  Factory-trained Porsche technicians run each vehicle through a 111-point mechanical- and visual-inspection checklist (pictured above and below).  Most of the checklist’s grades are evaluated on a pass / fail basis.

Any items sustaining a failing grade must be repaired or replaced to factory spec with Genuine Porsche parts.  This is the only means by which a vehicle progresses to the next phase.

Thus the dealer not only inspects, but also reconditions, any Porsche Approved vehicle that enters the program.

Porsche Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) Program: Porsche CPO Checklist, Page 2. Source: PCNA
Porsche Approved CPO Vehicles 111-Point Checklist, Page 2 of 2. Source: PCNA

Question:  So, theoretically, any reconditioned Porsche that passes the 111-point test, and that is within the age and mileage windows, automatically makes it into the CPO program, right?  Not!

The two major exceptions prohibiting Porsche vehicles from ever entering the Porsche Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) Program are:

  • Porsches that do not have a full and complete authorized-dealer service history
  • Porsches that have crash damage, i.e., with four or more repainted panels and/or with evidence of frame repair

The next hurdle is for the dealer to enroll the vehicle into the Porsche Factory CPO Program.  The dealer thus incurs a fee of as much as a few thousand dollars for the privilege.

This program entry fee is necessarily passed on to you when you purchase a CPO Porsche.  So, again, accordingly, it stands to reason why Porsche Approved CPO vehicles tend to cost as much as they do.

Porsche Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) Program: Panamera Exclusive interior. Credit: Porsche AG
Credit: Porsche AG

The Lowdown – Porsche CPO Warranty Features and Details

The Porsche Approved Certified Limited Warranty itself is considered to be one of the best in the business.  As previously mentioned, it carries no deductibles, covering 100% of all approved material and labor costs.

Other research sources, both on and off the Internet, claim that the Warranty is close to a bumper-to-bumper warranty — but be sure to place caveat-emptor emphasis on the words “close to.”  After all, most new-car warranties aren’t entirely limitless, all-inclusive “bumper-to-bumper” warranties, either.

As is also the case with most, if not all, vehicle warranties, wear-and-tear issues and expendable items are not covered.  The only exception to this rule is if there is a manufacturing and/or material defect in a part, component or mechanism itself.  As common sense would tell you, typical wear-and-tear and expendable examples include, but are not limited to:

  • Cleaning and polishing
  • Lubricants
  • Rock chips and scratches in the glass and paint
  • Spark plugs, filters, brake pads, worn tires, etc., etc.

And be forewarned — your track-day or high-performance driver-education (HPDE) excursions could void your car’s eligibility for the CPO program as well as void your own existing CPO Warranty faster than a Porsche 919 on the Nürburgring’s legendary Nordschleife.  Don’t say I didn’t tell you so. . . !

Also bear in mind that the Warranty covers only repairs performed at an authorized Porsche dealer.

Porsche’s roadside-assistance program, simply known as Porsche Assistance, is included under the Warranty.  But also be aware of the fact that some costs are associated with this aspect of the program, such as the cost of a new key should you happen to lose yours, for example.  Please refer to the Porsche Assistance webpage for all of the details of the program.

As is the case under new-car-warranty coverage, 24/7/365 roadside service is just a phone call away.  The Porsche Assistance Program, by the way, is subcontracted to GE Motor Club, which is also the subcontracted factory roadside-assistance provider for Ferrari and BMW, among others.

Finally, because the Warranty is fully transferable to any subsequent owner, have no fear in buying a CPO Porsche from a private owner who may live quite a distance away from you.  That’s because Porsche dealerships across North America are bound, by definition, to honor any CPO Warranty.

Porsche Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) Program: Macan Turbo right-front at cloudy sunset. Credit: Porsche AG
Credit: Porsche AG

Porsche Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) Program:  In Conclusion

In your quest for that special Porsche of your dreams, both CPO vehicles and non-CPO vehicles may pop up on your radar as attractive candidates.  It isn’t inconceivable that you could even run across some competing CPO and non-CPO vehicles whose prices vary by only a few hundred dollars or so.

In this scenario — let’s call it Scenario A — you could be running a fool’s errand if to choose the non-CPO vehicle over the Porsche CPO vehicle, in light of all the reasons outlined above in the foregoing narrative.

That’s how invaluable the Porsche Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) Program is when searching for a late-model used Porsche.  This is one extreme on the narrow end of the spectrum for the moment. . .

One can find a horror story or two or three or more on the Internet, or such anecdotes by word of mouth, about the Porsche Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) Program.

Among several tales of woe that I ran across on the Net, take, for example, the account about the Porsche factory refusing to cover a blown PCM (i.e., the Porsche Communications Management system, with includes the high-resolution touchscreen and brains of the control center for audio, navigation and communication functions).

Bear in mind, though, that this alleged “horror story” may (or may not) be the result of some protracted dispute over a separate Porsche mentioned in the post, a Cayenne, that was being haggled over by the person posting this story, at this particular dealership.  Who can know for sure?

Just because something is splashed across the World Wide Web doesn’t make it gospel, now, does it?

Such negative critiques on the Porsche CPO Program, therefore, have to be taken with a grain of salt:  Witness, for instance, restaurant reviews on Yelp which swing wildly from 5-star ratings to 0-star horrendous reviews on any given restaurant.

Have similarly dreadful Yelp reviews about your very favorite eatery ever deterred you from going back to dine there again and again and again?  Of course not.

As such, I’m sure that, by now, you’re well aware of the fact that you’re playing the odds here.

Porsche Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) Program: Porsche Rear Seat Entertainment. Credit: Porsche AG
Credit: Porsche AG

To pick up the thread from above, take the following Scenario B:  On the opposite broad end of the spectrum from the first scenario described previously, you may very well find a used non-CPO Porsche of your heart’s desire for a very attractive rock-bottom price, relative to a moderately higher price tag on a CPO Porsche that also catches your eye.

Such an attractive contender (i.e., the non-CPO Porsche) could possess all of the attributes that you have on your checklist, and more, such as:

  • The lowest negotiated price
  • More options
  • Up-to-date maintenance records
  • New-car warranty still in effect, etc. etc.

Because you could acquire this Porsche at a steal of a deal, this may be the way to go — or not.  Just remember that such a purchase comes with the following caveat in the long term:  AS IS — especially if that new-car warranty is about to run out.

The bottom line is this:  The Porsche Factory is gambling on the calculated probability that it will spend much less in warranty claims over the long run, relative to its initial outlay in setting up its vehicles in the Porsche CPO program.

Odds are therefore substantially high in your favor with a CPO-purchased vehicle — that is, more than likely, you will be spending boatloads less than what you would normally spend on out-of-warranty repairs on a non-CPO ride.

In the vernacular, that definitely doesn’t suck.

So when you embark upon your quest for a CPO Porsche, use these gathered tips (which are presented here in no particular order) to get yourself the best possible deal with the ultimate goal of increasing your odds that your final deal indeed doesn’t suck:

  • Test drive the vehicle for as long as the dealership will allow
  • Do your best to get your hands on Porsche’s 111-point checklist on the car of your choice
  • Get documentation of the remaining terms of the existing new-car warranty
  • Try to obtain the vehicle’s maintenance history as performed at Porsche dealerships through and up to the time of vehicle surrender
  • Study the fine print of the Porsche Approved CPO Warranty so that there are no
    surprises or misunderstandings regarding your in-depth comprehension of the deal
  • Be sure to establish and confirm that you will be getting a factory-sanctioned CPO Warranty
  • It is imperative that you spring for and fight for a pre-purchase inspection (PPI) despite the likely objections of the dealership
  • Be sure to set the end date in writing of your potential CPO Warranty — this is critical in light of the Porsche Warranty’s complicated calculation of warranty dates and duration
  • Research resale values as you would when in the market for any other vehicle so that you know, coming in, what your reasonable purchase price will be when haggling
  • Be sure to haggle with your Porsche Certified sales representative to get the best price possible regardless of the fact that you’re purchasing a CPO vehicle — that is, wheel and deal as you would on any other vehicle to get the best possible price!
Porsche Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) Program: Cayman GT4 and wing on Scotland road. Credit: Porsche AG
Credit: Porsche AG

In the final analysis, bear in mind that, when purchasing a late-model CPO Porsche, you’re acquiring a vehicle with as much as a 6-year / 100,000 mile extended warranty.

Most important, though, is the fact that you’re foregoing most if not all of the cons and any other downside issues associated with buying a brand-spanking-new car. . .

— Wait.  Do you grasp the monumental significance of this?!  You are thus bypassing one of the largest “hidden” expenses that one incurs immediately upon taking delivery of a new car — the cost of depreciation!

That is, when buying a CPO Porsche, you could be even more than offsetting that front-ended 20% to 30% depreciation cost that any new-car buyer incurs straightaway, depending on what model year you ultimately acquire, of course.

For the new-car buyer, however, the meter on this cost starts running as soon as that new car rolls off the lot, and through the next two to three years of ownership.

But a CPO Porsche can save you almost that entire huge 20-30% depreciation expense instantaneously.  Oh, joy!

Now that totally does not suck. . .

#          #          #

Selective Suggested Reading for Further Porsche CPO Study

Buying a CPO Porsche – Tricky Warrantee — “horror story” by laphroaig99 posted on the eBay.com website

CPO or No? — unattributed article in the “Porsche Buyer’s Guide” of the 2015-2016 edition from Excellence magazine

CPO Program Review: Porsche — article by Doug DeMuro on the Autotrader.com website

In the Know About CPOs — article by Peter Bohr from Westways, the official magazine of the Southern California AAA Auto Club

Porsche Approved Certified Pre-Owned Program — Porsche Cars North America’s official webpages on its Porsche Approved CPO Program

Pros and Cons of Certified Pre-Owned Cars — article by Jim Mateja on the cars.com website

Top Ten CPO Tips for Buying a Certified Pre-Owned Porsche — article by Larry the Porsche Guy on StuttgartDNA.com

Top 10 Tips on Buying a Porsche — article by Larry the Porsche Guy on StuttgartDNA.com