Piston Slap: CPO, PPI…STFU and Buy?

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta
piston slap cpo ppistfu and buy
Vincent writes:

Hi Sajeev,

I plan to by a Town and Country Touring-L within the next month (hat tip to Jack Baruth!). One vehicle is a 2012 with 41.1k miles, has the Certified Pre-Owned 7yr/100,000mi warranty and listed for $19.0k. The other is a 2011 with 43.3k miles w/o CPO listed for $17.0k. Both are otherwise almost identical.

My question is whether or not it the $2,000 is worth it for the CPO vehicle. The primary difference is another 2yrs to the warranty (actually, 3yrs b/c one is a 2011 and the other is a 2012), and mileage limit stays at 100kmi, but then again I’m thinking that $2,000 is a lot of repairs for a vehicle. Then again, the piece of mind is worth something to me, but is it worth $2,000?

Sajeev answers:

Is this adequate information to make a fair assessment of the situation? The sad reality is–much like how the 24 hour news cycle distills impossibly complex situations into easy to digest bits of polarizing bullshit–deeper investigation nets the truth. It won’t net you a Peabody award, it merely ensures you pick the best machine.

So you say the difference is the warranty. I say the difference is condition and longevity of wear items and THEN the modest bonus of a warranty on a non-European vehicle.

More to the point, pull up the CPO inspection paperwork on that unit, and get a PPI on the other one. Inspecting for obvious mechanical problems, accident damage, etc is still a good idea in this age of CARFAX and DIY forums, but I’m more concerned about those wear items.

  • A CPO Warranty doesn’t cover wear items, so how new are they? Tires, brakes, etc.
  • What did the PPI uncover about wear items?
  • Do both vehicles have a service history? If you get lucky, both were serviced by the dealer: the digital ink spilled is rather easy to spot with a visit to a Chrysler service drive.
  • Does the PPI make the non-CPO vehicle a better value…or worse value?
  • Learn how to inspect some of the basics of a PPI yourself, and feel confident you can answer the questions asked here.

No decision made, go back and do your homework. Or not: because the odds of making a horrible decision are less than likely. Short of major collision repair or flood damage, modern cars are pretty good.

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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2 of 19 comments
  • Tjh8402 Tjh8402 on Nov 18, 2013

    I'm in a bit of a rush so sorry if I missed something in the OP or in the later comments which I haven't read. A lot depends on how long you plan to keep the vehicle and what the price differences is. You can buy the same extended warranties from Chrysler that you can on a PPO vehicle without buying it, probably will cost more though. I woud want one on a minivan, especially one that I planned to keep a while because of the high amount of wear on that transmission as well all the power operated doors and liftgate that I'm assuming the T&C has.

  • AlfaRomasochist AlfaRomasochist on Nov 18, 2013

    Nearly every 1-3 year old Chrysler minivan for sale is a former rental. Count on it. And yes, they do get abused by customers but I'm more worried about the way the lot jockeys start up the engine stone cold, redline it in every gear moving it from the front lot to the back lot (or the back lot to the front lot), then shut it down and walk away. I see it every time I go to the airport. So I'd suggest doing a Carfax to try and find the needle-in-the-haystack non-rental or try to find a 2013 on the lot that some poor dealer is desperate to move.

  • NotMyCircusNotMyMonkeys for that money, it had better be built by people listening to ABBA
  • Abrar Very easy and understanding explanation about brake paint
  • MaintenanceCosts We need cheaper batteries. This is a difficult proposition at $50k base/$60k as tested but would be pretty compelling at $40k base/$50k as tested.
  • Scott ?Wonder what Toyota will be using when they enter the market?
  • Fred The bigger issue is what happens to the other systems as demand dwindles? Will thet convert or will they just just shut down?