Three Types Of Pre-Owned Vehicles And What Their Classifications Mean

Posted on: 19 September 2017


When you search for a used vehicle, you are going to run into different words denoting specific classifications. These words can get very confusing. The following words/phrases are the ones you will see most commonly as you search pre-owned vehicles for your next cheap car.


Used, as it is used in the auto sale industry, is a bit misleading. Most consumers think of a used vehicle as something with several thousand miles on it and a little wear and tear. However, in the auto industry, "used"  also means that a dealer may have driven it for a week to put a few miles on it and the vehicle is a year old already. You need to reshape your thinking of the word as "barely used," since most of the vehicles that fall under this category are just that--barely used.


Pre-owned means that a vehicle had a previous owner (or two) and the vehicle was traded in for something else. The owner may also have sold it outright to the dealership for whatever reason. More often than not, a pre-owned vehicle means that an owner leased it for a time, then decided that he or she no longer wanted it.

Certified Pre-Owned

The vehicles under this category have been certified by the dealership as having at least one previous owner and all of the parts and features on the vehicle function well or better than average for the age of the vehicle. People sometimes prefer buying certified pre-owned because they know that the vehicle is in excellent shape and nothing should go wrong with it anytime soon. However, you will pay a higher price for that certification.

Bargain Vehicles

Bargain vehicles are the vehicles everyone imagines when they think "used." These cars are regularly older than most models on the lot, may have some non-working parts (e.g., heat, A/C, etc.), and possibly a little rust or a little damage. They still look reasonably good and function well as a mode of transportation. However, they are sold at bargain basement prices because the dealerships got them as trade-ins and do not want these cars stuck on their lots indefinitely.

Sorting Your Options by Price

Now that you know what each classification of used car means, you can sort them out by how much you want to spend. Every "bargain vehicle" is usually under five thousand. The next level up for a few thousand more is the "pre-owned" category. Add a few thousand more and you can get you a "certified pre-owned" vehicle, while everything else that costs more than that but just a couple thousand less than brand-new is considered "slightly used."

For more information, contact companies like SZ Motor Cars.