Buying a Honda Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) vehicle is a great way to get a quality car, SUV, or Ridgeline pickup at a sizable discount from the new vehicle price. Honda revamped its CPO program in 2019 and now offers two levels of warranty coverage, depending on the model year vehicle you choose.

Because the Honda CPO program is now divided into two tiers, there could be some confusion as to which level of warranty applies to the vehicle you buy. We’ll sort it all out. The difference may influence your vehicle choice.

The difference in coverage between the two tiers of Honda’s CPO coverage is also a reason to consider buying an extended warranty, either from the Honda Care® program or from one of the best extended car warranty companies. Compare quotes between some of the top-rated providers.

*Based on data from our users.



Honda CPO Details

A certified pre-owned program basically does three things:

  • Conducts a thorough inspection of the used vehicle to assess its condition
  • Performs any required services or repairs to ensure the vehicle meets the manufacturer’s specs for a CPO vehicle
  • Provides a warranty for the vehicle, and sometimes an extended powertrain warranty

We’ll look at how well Honda does all of those things.



HondaTrue Certified Vs. HondaTrue Certified+

When Honda upgraded its CPO program in 2019, it added new branding, as well. Honda calls its CPO program HondaTrue Certified, and it includes pre-owned vehicles up to 5 years old and with up to 80,000 miles.

Significantly, the 2019 upgrade added roadside assistance and other benefits that had previously been either available for extra cost or not offered at all. In this respect, Honda came up to the level of many other brands’ CPO programs, as well as third-party extended warranties.

In 2020 and 2021, the Honda CPO program now includes two complimentary oil changes over the first 12 months or 12,000 miles you have the vehicle. It also throws in a three-month free trial of SiriusXM® satellite radio service.

Those are nice perks, but the bigger news for Honda customers is the HondaTrue Certified+ plan, which applies only to current and previous model-year pre-owned vehicles that have been in service for less than 12 months or 12,000 miles.

Here’s the difference in warranty coverage:

HondaTrue Certified

HondaTrue Certified+

Eligible vehicles

Up to 5 years old
with up to 80,000 miles from original in-service date

Under 12 months or
12,000 miles from original in-service date

Vehicle warranty

1 year/12,000 miles
(starts after expiration of new vehicle warranty)

2 years/24,000 miles
(starts after expiration of new vehicle warranty)

Powertrain warranty

7 years/100,000 miles (total from new vehicle in-service date)

7 years/100,000 miles (total from new vehicle in-service date)

Free maintenance

Two oil changes within the first 12 months/12,000 miles of ownership

Two oil changes within the first 12 months/12,000 miles of ownership

For Certified and Certified+ Honda models alike, the vehicle warranty (what Honda calls the “non-powertrain warranty”) is in addition to any remaining portion of the New Vehicle Limited Warranty, which runs for 3 years/36,000 miles. Since HondaTrue Certified+ vehicles can’t be older than 12 months or have more than 12,000 miles, that means buying one of these cars would, at a minimum, reset the warranty clock to 3 years/36,000 miles. A Certified+ Honda that is under those limits would have longer coverage than a new Honda.

The 7-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty remains one of the Honda CPO program’s top highlights. Since new Hondas come with 5 years/60,000 miles of powertrain coverage, the extension that comes with CPO Hondas provides an additional 2 years/40,000 miles of coverage. We like that part of the plan.

When Honda introduced Certified+ in summer 2019, its press release stated that the plan applied to “2018 and newer vehicles.” That was only true then. In spring 2020, the Honda website stated that Certified+ applies only to 2019 and 2020 vehicles. We would expect that, at some point in 2021, the plan will change to covering only 2020 and 2021 vehicles.

The Honda CPO warranty is fully transferable, giving the new owner the balance of both the powertrain warranty and the non-powertrain warranty.



Honda’s 182-Point CPO Inspection

Honda touts a 182-point inspection process for its Certified and Certified+ vehicles. In late 2017, Honda introduced the auto industry’s first digital inspection reports for CPO vehicles, and you can view and download these right from the CPO page on Honda’s website. With other brands, you need to go into the dealership and ask for the inspection report for individual CPO models.

Honda’s inspection checklist is comprehensive, and prepping the car for sale includes these details:

  • All fluids must be topped off.
  • All floor mats must be present and properly secured.
  • All tires must be the same size, brand, load, speed rating, and free of damage.
  • Original equipment manufacturer (OEM) or non-OEM windshields with cracks, chips, scratches, and pitting must be repaired or replaced with Honda Genuine glass.
  • Scratches greater than 4.0 inches, dings or dents that can’t be covered with a dime, and damage that penetrates the base metal must be repaired.

Essentially, the Honda CPO warranties continue the coverage of the original new vehicle warranties, with only a few exclusions:

  • Standard Honda maintenance items and procedures
  • Emission control system
  • General appearance, body parts, interior, trim, and glass
  • Damage caused by vehicle misuse, abuse, lack of proper maintenance, and “acts of nature”

Notably, Honda’s CPO powertrain warranty has no exclusions listed. So, all electrical components and sensors associated with the powertrain are covered. Not all brands do that.



Roadside Assistance Is Finally Standard

Until 2019, Honda did not include roadside assistance as a standard part of its CPO program. Instead, you had to pay extra for a package to get roadside assistance, trip interruption reimbursement, concierge service, and a 24-hour Honda dealer locator.

Honda stepped up its game in 2019, announcing a suite of complimentary benefits, including:

  • Emergency roadside assistance
  • Towing to local Honda dealership
  • Flat-tire change with spare
  • Battery boost
  • Emergency fuel delivery
  • Lockout assistance
  • Winch service
  • Trip-interruption expense reimbursement
  • Concierge service
  • 24-hour Honda dealer locator

Those are valuable benefits, but they last for only the duration of the Limited Warranty Non-Powertrain coverage. That means, for a HondaTrue Certified vehicle, these benefits last for just 12 months or 12,000 miles, whichever comes first. With the Certified+ vehicles, roadside assistance and associated benefits would last for a minimum of 3 years/36,000 miles.

We’d prefer to see Honda extend its roadside assistance for a longer duration, but on a regular Certified Honda, you could extend those benefits by purchasing a Honda extended warranty or a warranty plan from one of the top third-party extended auto warranty companies.



Emergency Repair Reimbursement

Honda may reimburse you for emergency repairs performed at a facility other than a Honda dealer. Most brands do not offer this benefit, but for Honda to do it, your situation must meet strict requirements:

  • There are no authorized Honda dealers within 50 miles of the breakdown, or all local dealerships were closed at the time you needed the repair.
  • The repair is one that would normally be covered by the Honda warranty.
  • Your Honda was immobile, or attempting to drive it would cause further damage or be unsafe.

Even if your situation meets those criteria, you must call Honda’s roadside assistance hotline to obtain prior authorization before any repairs are performed. Then, if Honda approves the repair by a non-Honda facility, the company will reimburse according to its own guidelines. That also means applying its own recommended time allowance for the repair at the labor rate for the area where the breakdown occurs.

You would then take the receipt for the repair, along with any failed parts removed from the vehicle, to your selling Honda dealer to submit your claim.



Is Honda Quality Still Among The Best?

A vehicle’s documented quality is going to be one of the best predictors of future reliability, so let’s consider Honda’s quality. In the 2020 J.D. Power U.S. Vehicle Dependability StudySM, which measures problems in cars after three years of ownership, Honda registered 139 problems per 100 vehicles. That was below the industry average of 134, and also below some key competitors. (Lower numbers are better.)

Something to keep in mind is that J.D. Power states that audio, communication, entertainment, and navigation systems account for more problems than any other category in its study. A failed audio or navigation system may leave you annoyed, but not stranded.

We checked with Consumer Reports, which many trust as a source for auto reliability, and found a similar result for Honda. The brand ranked 12th in the magazine’s latest survey of brand reliability, behind Toyota (3rd), Hyundai (6th), Subaru (7th), Kia (9th), and Nissan (11th).



Choose Your Certified Honda Carefully

Overall, Honda’s Certified Pre-Owned program is a good one, but you need to be careful not to confuse warranty coverage between the HondaTrue Certified and HondaTrue Certified+ tiers. Here are just a few things to keep in mind before you shop for a Honda CPO vehicle:

  • While the 7-year/100,000-mile powertrain coverage is among the best when compared to other programs, we think it tends to obscure the fact that the “non-powertrain” warranty covers certified models for just 1 year/12,000 miles.
  • While we applaud Honda for finally making roadside assistance and related benefits standard, remember that those last just 1 year/12,000 miles on certified models. The Honda Certified+ models certainly offer more warranty coverage, and if you buy a current-year model, you could end up with nearly four years of full coverage.
  • Certified+ Hondas are nearly brand new vehicles and are priced accordingly.



Another Warranty Choice

We think the regular certified pre-owned Hondas (without the “+”) are good candidates for an extended car warranty. A vehicle service contract from a third-party provider could fill in coverage gaps.

In addition, should a Honda covered by a third-party warranty break down, you’re sure to be near one of the 30,000 nationwide facilities that these plans authorize for covered repairs.

Plans offered by CARCHEXEnduranceCarShield, and autopom! also provide very generous roadside assistance, trip interruption, and towing benefits. Some cover tires, which can be quite expensive to replace on late-model vehicles.

A certified pre-owned Honda can give you years of enjoyable driving. For greater peace of mind, start comparing warranties by getting free quotes from these reputable extended car warranty companies.

*Based on data from our users.