Ford Certified Pre-Owned Vehicle Program Reduces Customer Buyer Beware 

DEARBORN, Mich., Feb. 8, 2005 -- Ella Copeland needs a quality used pickup truck for her growing horse farm in eastern Florida. Her first choice is a Ford F-150, but it has to be certified and have a warranty.

"I already know of Ford's quality with pickups," said Copeland. "But with a used pickup, I need to know it's in good shape now and that the dealer and manufacturer will back it up should something go wrong. I don't want any surprise repairs."

Copeland is among thousands of consumers looking for the security of pre-owned vehicle certification. It's a growing part of the used vehicle business that Ford Motor Company sees as good business.

"Almost two-thirds of our certified pre-owned customers are brand new to the company," said Mike Dennis, manager of Ford and Lincoln Mercury certified pre-owned programs. "They've never purchased a Ford product before. By offering them a certified pre-owned vehicle with a limited warranty for the duration of their used car ownership, we're confident they'll come back happy and buy another pre-owned or new vehicle."

"It's a great added value for the customer to know that the vehicle carries this warranty and is backed by Ford Motor Company as well as their dealer," said Bob Wheat, general manager of Village Ford in Dearborn, Mich.

Ford's certified pre-owned vehicle program is especially appealing. Ford and Mercury model year 2001 through 2005 vehicles undergo a thorough 115-point inspection process for certification. Lincoln vehicles have a 141-point inspection process. In addition, all Ford, Lincoln and Mercury vehicles are subjected to a vehicle history search prior to certification. Information such as prior accidents, branded titles and odometer discrepancies collected from police departments, insurance companies and state motor vehicle departments is the first step in qualifying or disqualifying a vehicle for certification.

"We also offer the consumer a copy of the vehicle history report, identifying anything that happened in the vehicle's history, all the way back to when it was new," said Dennis.

Dealers also do their own OASIS report, collecting warranty data about any add-ons made by a previous customer that would void the original manufacturer warranty.

Ford's certified pre-owned vehicle program is competitive with other manufacturers with regard to roadside assistance and other customer conveniences, but also has some distinct differences. A comparison study found Ford backs its certified pre-owned vehicles with a six-year/75,000-mile powertrain limited warranty from the original sale date. Lincoln offers a more comprehensive, almost bumper-to-bumper limited warranty. General Motors, for instance, only offers a three-month/3,000-mile additional warranty. Mazda, Volvo and Premiere Automobile Group (PAG) vehicles have their own highly competitive limited warranties similar to Ford vehicles.

Certified pre-owned Ford, Lincoln and Mercury buyers also can purchase an Ford Extended Service Plan (ESP), which reduces or eliminates the deductible and extends the duration and component coverage.

Ford and Lincoln Mercury dealers selling certified pre-owned vehicles are reaping the benefits of the three-year-old program.

"Its good for the sales department, it's good for the service department, good for the finance department, and good for the parts department," said Ben Simon, general manager of Kenny Ross Ford in Pittsburgh, Penn.

Making sure the customers know what they're buying and what they can expect from the dealer and the company afterward makes the sale easier, said Tim Boese, president and general manager of Southgate Lincoln Mercury in Southgate, Mich. Boese said one-in-four used vehicle customers shopping his dealership are looking for a certified pre-owned vehicle. Three-quarters of his used vehicle customers buy a certified pre-owned vehicle.

"For us, it's the right thing to do because it strengthens our relationship with our customers," said Boese.