Should I buy a certified pre-owned car?

In this Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017, photo, certified pre-owned vehicles sit on display at an auto dealership.
In this Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017, photo, certified pre-owned vehicles sit on display at an auto dealership. –Alan Diaz / AP

My wife and I are beginning the car-buying process. Since new cars depreciate quickly, we are thinking of buying an almost-new vehicle that’s certified by the manufacturer. What do you think of this idea?

Q. My wife and I are beginning the car-buying process. We would like a small to midsize SUV. We’ve purchased new and used cars before. Since new cars depreciate quickly, we are thinking of buying an almost-new vehicle that’s certified by the manufacturer. What do you think of this idea? Should we go for the extra features such as wheel and tire insurance, GAP insurance, and key insurance?

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A. Buying a certified pre-owned (CPO) car can make sense depending on what is included. I also recently replaced an older car and was looking at CPO vehicles. In my budget, the CPO cars offered some savings, but there was little done in the way of checking the car over. Like you, I was looking for a small all-wheel-drive SUV, and on this vehicle, one tire was new and the other three were half worn. This vehicle manufacturer recommended replacing all four tires or at least two tires — but never just one tire, or you risk damaging the all-wheel-drive transfer case. Regarding the add-ons, my suggestion is to shop around. In many cases, the dealership makes more profit in the extra insurance than they do with the car. You should also have this vehicle inspected by a professional prior to purchase.

John Paul is AAA Northeast’s Car Doctor. He has over 40 years of experience in the automotive business and is an ASE certified master technician. Email your car question to jpaul@aaanortheast.com.