The last car I bought was a Certified Used Car. That moniker gave me some comfort about the quality of the car. After all, the car was c-e-r-t-i-f-i-e-d. Surely that means high quality, right?
Not so fast. And I should have known better. The car I bought was a 2011 Toyota Camrey Hybrid. It was a current year model with about 20,000 miles. And I noticed my first warning sign that certified doesn’t mean much before I even drove the car off the lot–week-old McDonald’s french fries under the driver’s seat. No joke.
Exactly how much care and attention can a dealer give a car if it misses french fries under the seat? Thanks a lot Koons Toyota of Tyson’s.
Note to business owners. Most customers who are unhappy with your service or product never complain. They just don’t come back. And they tell all of their friends and family, too.
My experience with this car came rushing back today when I read an article on CNN. It quotes Rosemary Shahan, founder of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, advising consumers not to rely on certifications: “Don’t buy a certified used car. Instead, get your own inspection for $100 and save thousands. The dealers who do the certifying will okay anything with four wheels.”
So true. The Toyota I bought, as it turns out, had far more serious issues than some fries under the seat. Here’s what happened.
When I bought the car, I noticed that it made a funny noise at certain speeds. At the time I assumed it was part of the hybrid system, so I let it go. But it really bugged me, to the point of wondering why Toyota would produce a car that made so much noise.
About a year later during routine maintenance service at a different dealer (remember the french fries?), they informed me that I needed new front tires. Apparently the tires on my car had steel poking through the inside of the tire. That’s a bit odd, so I of course had the tires changed.
As you are no doubt guessing by now, that odd noise magically disappeared. So that “certified” Toyota that a dealer sold me came with bad tires. A year had gone by, so it was pointless trying to get compensation from the dealer. But it was an expensive lesson learned.
What has your experience been with certified used cards?