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Volkswagen Certified Pre-Owned Review

December 8, 2020
Written by: Ray Shefska

Anyone looking to buy a brand-new Volkswagen should first consider going for a certified pre-owned vehicle. A Volkswagen certified pre-owned car comes with a warranty, inspection, and includes a few perks.

We’re about to dive into the Volkswagen CPO program, examine their inspection process, warranty coverage, warranty duration, and explore their added perks.

TLDR; We do not recommend the Volkswagen certified pre-owned program. They do not offer a powertrain warranty at all. To make matters worse, they have a convoluted model-based warranty offering that seems to be in place to encourage people to buy older cars. The inspection process is also incredibly minimal, only inspecting 112 points. Which is far below the industry average.

Volkswagen’s Certified Pre-Owned Warranty Information

The Volkswagen certified pre-owned program has a somewhat confusing year-based warranty offering. To qualify for the Volkswagen CPO program, the vehicle must meet the below criteria:

  • Six model years old or newer
  • Fewer than 75,000

These criteria are pretty par for the course, although most automakers make the cutoff point five years and 50,000 miles. Volkswagen decided to extend its standards a little more than most manufacturers.  

What does Volkswagen’s Certified Pre-Owned Warranty Cover?

Every CPO vehicle comes with a Comprehensive Limited warranty that begins on the date that you buy the car. This warranty covers most major components in your car.

Unfortunately, Volkswagen says that inclusions and exclusions are available in the CPO manual, which they do not make available on their website. We have no way of verifying what exactly is and is not covered with this warranty. Refusing to make the manual available online is rare for CPO programs, as most automakers have the manual available directly on their website.

Repairs covered by this warranty still carry a $50 deductible per visit. Although this is better than paying for the repairs yourself, having this deductible is unpleasant. While it may not seem like much, it adds up over the lifetime of your warranty.

The absence of a specific powertrain warranty is alarming. Most automakers include a powertrain warranty that lasts up to 100,000 miles and ten years. Volkswagen does not offer any powertrain warranty. The lack of a powertrain warranty means that you could end up three years down the road and have powertrain problems that could potentially lead to scrapping your car.

How long does Volkswagen’s Certified Pre-Owned Warranty Last?

Volkswagen created a strange model-based method for offering warranties on their CPO vehicles. They talk about it like it’s a selling point, but we think it’s needlessly complicated. Either way, here are the warranty durations they offer:

  • Model year of 2018 or newer: One-year or 12,000 miles, whichever occurs first
  • Model year of 2017 or earlier: Two-year or 24,000 miles, whichever occurs first
  • Model year of 2016 or earlier Turbocharged Direct Injection vehicles: Two years with unlimited miles

We should highlight that they offer the same warranty in every case: their Comprehensive Limited Warranty.

It’s unclear why the Volkswagen certified pre-owned program has this unique process for deciding on warranty coverage. It almost seems like their mentality is “our older cars need more coverage,” which does not instill confidence in their vehicles. This warranty offering also makes it seem like it’s worth buying 2017 over 2018 since you’ll get double the duration.  

Although there’s not much information available on the plans, you can opt to add up to 100,000 miles to the included warranty. There are five different plans that you can pick from. You can talk to the Volkswagen dealership near you for more information about their added warranties.

Volkswagen does not directly state if their warranties are transferable, which directly impacts your resale value if you decide to sell your car.

Volkswagen’s Certified Pre-Owned Inspection

Every vehicle in the Volkswagen certified pre-owned program has a 112-point inspection. This number of inspection points is relatively low for the industry standard. We’d say the average of inspection points is around 150-175 (Mazda inspects 160 points). Volkswagen also does not make its checklist publicly available on its website, which is unusual. They do give an overview of the process:

  • Examine the engine for any starting issues or strange knocking and vibrations
  • Examine the transmission for any performance issues or noises
  • Test brakes for stopping distance, vibration, and overall function
  • Test steering for noise, vibration, and pulling
  • Perform any maintenance called for in the owner’s manual.

All of these descriptions are standard for a CPO inspection. It’s discouraging to see that they didn’t make their entire checklist available. It also doesn’t give us confidence in their cars that they are only inspecting 112 points. We’d like to see them enhance their program to catch up to other automakers.

Other Volkswagen Certified Pre-Owned Perks

Volkswagen has decided to offer several perks with their CPO vehicles, much like other manufacturers. Every Volkswagen certified pre-owned vehicle includes these perks:

  • 24/7 roadside assistance for two years, including gas delivery, jump starts, lockouts, and emergency tows
  • A three-month trial of SiriusXM
  • A complete Carfax report (how trustworthy are Carfax reports?)

This perk offering is the bare minimum that we’ve seen from auto manufacturers. We’re wondering why the Volkswagen certified pre-owned program didn’t decide to provide more perks that might set them apart from other automakers.

We do not recommend the Volkswagen certified pre-owned program. They have a convoluted warranty offering, perform a minimum amount of inspection, and do not make vital information available to the public. Unless you particularly like Volkswagens, we suggest looking at other certified pre-owned programs that include more extended warranties, a powertrain warranty, and a more thorough inspection.

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