Savvy car shoppers know that if you want to save big bucks on a newer car, then buying a certified pre-owned (CPO) vehicle is a wise strategy. Certainly, the first year of car ownership brings with it the most significant drop in depreciation. Suddenly, that new car bought for $33,000 new, may be worth less than $25,000.
You may not have to wait a model year to enjoy the perks of a used vehicle and the depreciation cost absorbed by someone else. Indeed, cars with just a few thousand miles on the odometer are routinely sold by new car dealers, vehicles that served as demo models for a few months and are now ready for sale.
Buying a demo (demonstration) car is easy, but can you lease one? Yes, you can. In fact, just as most any new or late-model vehicle can be leased, so can a demo car. But before you sign on the dotted line you must perform due diligence. So, then do the following:
Inspect With Care
Just as you would do with any used vehicle, examine the demo car very carefully. Likely, it is as shiny and appealing as any new car on the lot, but it could possess a few flaws that might be revealed through careful inspection. Keep this in mind: scores, if not hundreds of potential buyers may have tested the vehicle.
Look for nicks or scratches that may have been touched up. Look closely at the seats, the dashboard, and the carpeting for signs of wear and tear or discoloration. Lift the hood and verify that the oil, transmission fluid and coolant is clean, the connections are secure and that the battery is in top condition. Examine the trunk for signs of water intrusion by lifting the floor cover. Having your own mechanic examine the vehicle can be a wise decision too.
Obtain a Vehicle Report
The dealer’s maintenance records may be detailed, but you should also be supplied with a vehicle history report even if the car was only used for two or three months. This report should be automatically supplied by the car dealer and at no cost to you.
Most dealers will supply a CARFAX report outlining information about the vehicle’s title, ownership and mileage history. It should also include service information and if there was an accident that was reported, that detail will be included. A minor fender bender may not be much, but anything greater could be a deal breaker.
Warranty and Related Information
What sort of warranty coverage is the dealer offering with the demo model? It should come with the balance of the new car warranty as well as powertrain and rust protection. For manufacturers offering new car maintenance for the first two or three years of ownership, the demo vehicle should assume same. (Here is an excellent article that details the limits and sometimes the pitfalls with vehicle history reports — Limitations and Problems with Carfax or any Vehicle History Report).
If you’re interested in purchasing an extended warranty, your demo vehicle should be eligible for a plan. You can purchase a plan through the dealer our buy one independently. Shop around and compare offers and prices.
Find a Demo
New car dealers may have demos in use, but that doesn’t mean that one is available for sale. Here, you will want to call several local dealers and ask if they have demos available. Those cars may be included in the dealer’s online inventory too.
Take your time shopping for a demo and you may come up with a like-new car at a bargain price. Once you find a car that meets your criteria, then discuss your leasing options with the dealer. You should bargain the best price for the car and ensure that the warranties run as long as the lease.
See Also — Where Can I Find My Car Paint Code?