A certified BMW might come at an attractive price, but you may need to buy an extended warranty to go with it.

 

Savvy luxury car shoppers know that buying a BMW car or SUV through BMW’s Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) program is a great way to enjoy The Ultimate Driving Machine® experience at a substantial discount from the new vehicle price. We think the BMW CPO warranty is a mixed bag, however.

If buying a CPO BMW, we suggest you consider also purchasing extended warranty coverage, whether it’s a plan offered by BMW or a plan from one of the best extended car warranty companies in the industry.

Review one or more of those aftermarket plans and then compare them to what the BMW CPO warranty and any BMW extended warranty plans offer. Choosing the right extended warranty for your own needs can give you the added peace of mind to enjoy your BMW CPO vehicle to the fullest.

 

In this article:

What Is The BMW Certified Program?

Generally speaking, buying a BMW CPO vehicle as opposed to a plain old “used” BMW offers numerous advantages. Firstly, like other carmakers that offer CPO programs, BMW has a strict selection process for the late-model cars it puts into the program. BMW includes only vehicles with more than 300 miles but less than 60,000 miles.

A perusal of the BMW CPO inventory, either through the BMW USA website or individual BMW dealer websites, reveals many BMW CPO vehicles with far fewer miles than that. Many of these are lease-return vehicles. Since nearly 60 percent of new BMWs are leased according to Cox Automotive, there’s a steady stream of 2- to 3-year-old vehicles coming into the CPO program. In addition, some BMW CPO vehicles were corporate fleet vehicles, rentals, or dealer service courtesy fleet vehicles.

BMW’s CPO Warranty Is Not The Best

Whichever BMW model you are looking for, it pays to consider the most recent and lowest-model examples that fit your purchase budget. Here’s why: every BMW CPO vehicle comes with a two-part warranty, and it’s the second part – the CPO warranty – that leaves us unimpressed.

First, you get the remainder of the BMW 4-year/50,000-mile new vehicle warranty.

When that portion expires, either by time or miles, a separate, less comprehensive one-year/unlimited-mile warranty goes into force.

Even BMW emphasizes that this is not an extension of the original warranty. There are numerous items excluded from coverage, and the list makes a pretty convincing case to consider an extended auto warranty. (We’ll look at that in a moment.)

Using BMW’s website, we found many 2019 and even 2020 low-mile vehicles in the company’s CPO inventory. A 2019 BMW 430i xDrive with 19,000 miles caught our eye, and there were several similar to it. This car will still have nearly 3 years or 31,000 miles of its original warranty remaining. Once that coverage expires, the BMW CPO warranty kicks in for another year of somewhat lesser warranty coverage, but with unlimited miles.

How Thorough Is BMW’s CPO Inspection?

Comparing CPO programs among various brands can get confusing. All brands tout the expansiveness of their certification inspections, which they describe in terms of the number of “points” or steps dealer techs follow on a checklist. BMW’s inspection checklist shows about 200 items. These include checking for everything from appearance of paint to measuring the thickness of brake pads and making sure the vehicle has an owner’s manual.

When you look at a BMW CPO vehicle, the dealer will show you the inspection report that the tech, service manager, and pre-owned manager all have signed. That’s the “certified” part. You can see everything that was examined and deemed to meet BMW’s factory-recommended specifications, plus notes on what parts have been replaced.

Also, remember that a 200-point inspection does not mean BMW will be replacing the brakes, tires, and other wear parts unless they do not meet BMW’s standards. For example, as long as the tires show at least 3.0 millimeters of tread depth (measured from the top of the wear indicators) and the brake pads show a minimum of 5.0 millimeters of depth for the friction material, BMW will leave them as is.

The BMW CPO certification starts as a process to weed out cars that don’t meet eligibility criteria:

  • The BMW tech will first verify the vehicle’s mileage and vehicle history, using a CARFAX or AutoCheck report. A “disqualifying” report will block certification, and any BMW found to have inconsistent or incomplete maintenance history can’t be certified.
  • If the tech finds any non-BMW performance modifications, the car can’t be certified.
  • If a vehicle has not been serviced in accordance with any open recalls, that work will be performed.

Checking The Body And Mechanicals

BMW’s CPO inspection then moves to the body’s condition, fit, and finish, including the exterior and interior. The tech will look closely for any kind of damage and specify anything that might need a repair or touch-up. 

  • Convertible roofs are tested, and water drains are checked.
  • Seats and trim are checked for blemishes or tears, and weather seals are inspected. The functionality of these features will also be checked on the road test, which comes last.
  • All door, hatchback, and tailgate latches are tested for proper operation. Fluid levels are checked, and the tech will inspect for any leaks. Power seats are tested.
  • If the inspection reveals “mismatched and/or non-approved safety related components,” these will be replaced with original equipment manufacturer (OEM) BMW parts.
  • The mechanical inspection follows next. Here, the tech will check all suspension components and exterior lights. If anything has been replaced with a non-BMW part, the correct BMW parts will be substituted.

BMW’s CPO Road Test 

The road test begins with a review of the BMW’s systems. With the engine running, the tech inspects and tests the functions of every system and control in the vehicle. For example, the heat and air conditioning are tested for effectiveness and maintaining set temperatures, and even the rain-sensing windshield wipers are tested.

All the car’s electronic features, including the audio, iDrive (ConnectedDrive), and navigation are tested for proper function. Likewise, all electrical features are tested, including lights, power windows, heated seats, and sunroof. Anything found not to be working properly will be repaired or replaced.

With that phase complete, the tech will road-test the BMW for no less than 20 continuous minutes and for at least 5 continuous miles. Acceleration and braking are evaluated, and the tech will note any signs of malfunctions, squeaks, rattles, vibrations, or idle roughness.

What Does BMW’s CPO Warranty Cover?

As we said, we think the BMW CPO warranty could be better. The warranty covers major parts of the car, including:

  • Air conditioning and heating
  • Brakes
  • Cooling system
  • Electrical
  • Engine
  • Final drive assembly and drive shaft
  • Fuel system
  • Interior and exterior features
  • Steering
  • Suspension
  • Transmission

What BMW’s CPO Warranty Does Not Cover

Again, it’s important to note that the BMW CPO limited warranty is not an extension of the original new vehicle warranty, and there is a long list of things that it does not cover.

The BMW certified pre-owned warranty does not cover many maintenance and wear parts, which many car brand warranties also exclude. Some of these include engine drive belts, brake pads and rotors, spark plugs, fuses, fluids, air conditioning refrigerant, hoses (including clamps and connectors), and windshield wiper arms and blades. 

BMW’s CPO warranty does not cover tires or wheel alignment, but the tire manufacturer’s warranty may still apply. (Ask your BMW dealer regarding specific CPO vehicles.)

Some items that are not covered and can be expensive to replace include exhaust systems, such as catalytic converters and diesel engine particulate filters.

Critically, the BMW CPO warranty also does not cover a fairly large number of suspension components, including ball joints, bushings, coil springs, control arms and brackets, stabilizer bar links and supports, strut elements and shock absorbers, and steering tie rod ends and adjusting sleeves. That doesn’t leave much of the suspension left to be covered.

The list of body-related items not covered by the BMW CPO warranty is also quite extensive. Some highlights include water leaks, various structural parts, body panels, squeaks, rattles, and body seals and gaskets.

BMW CPO Warranty FAQ

Are there any additional costs for the BMW CPO warranty?

Once the BMW CPO warranty kicks in, there is a $50 deductible for repairs.

 

How does BMW’s CPO warranty compare with other brands?

Some car brands give you more CPO warranty coverage. Jaguar’s CPO warranty, for example, adds 2 years/40,000 miles to the remaining portion of the original new vehicle warranty. Porsche’s CPO warranty adds two years with unlimited miles to the remainder of the original new vehicle warranty.

 

Is the BMW CPO warranty transferable?

Yes, if you sell your BMW CPO vehicle, there is a $200 fee to transfer the warranty to the next owner.

Other BMW CPO Warranty Benefits

BMW’s Roadside Assistance covers the basics, including battery jump-starts, delivery of fuel or operating fluids, tire changes, and lockout services. It also provides towing to the nearest authorized BMW dealer for mechanical issues, hazard damage, or even an accident. 

Don’t expect a tow truck automatically, however. For example, if your BMW CPO vehicle breaks down for not being able to start, BMW employs what it calls a Master Technician Team to attempt to diagnose the problem remotely. Using the car’s telematics technology to access vehicle data and warning messages, the team may be able to recommend over the phone some steps you can try.

In addition, BMW Roadside Assistance includes trip interruption assistance for certain repairs that leave you without transportation while far from home. This benefit will help arrange alternate transportation or hotel accommodations and will reimburse your out-of-pocket costs up to $1,000 per incident.

BMW Reliability

Although BMW repair and maintenance costs can be expensive, the brand made a good showing on the 2020 J.D. Power U.S. Vehicle Dependability StudySM. BMW came in eighth from the top in this study, which measures problems in three-year-old cars. BMW registered 123 problems per 100 cars, coming behind Genesis (89), Lexus (100), and Lincoln (119), but well ahead of Mercedes-Benz (152).

BMW CPO Verdict: Good Or Not?

On the whole, BMW’s CPO program offers a lower-cost entry into The Ultimate Driving Machine experience, but the BMW CPO warranty is lacking, in our opinion.

If you’re thinking of buying a BMW CPO vehicle, think about adding more warranty coverage. BMW offers plans to extend coverage up to a total of seven years. We’ve already taken a detailed look at the BMW extended warranty plans, and we judged them to be good, but expensive.

That said, you should buy a BMW certified pre-owned sedan, coupe, convertible, or SUV because you want the car, not because you like the warranty. It’s easy enough to address the BMW CPO warranty’s shortcomings. Here are three ways:

  1. The CPO warranty starts when the original BMW warranty expires, so it can pay to buy the newest, lowest-mile CPO BMW that your budget allows to get more of the remaining original new vehicle warranty.
  2. Buy an extended warranty. BMW offers its own plans, which are good but pricey. Also, with a BMW extended warranty, you must have your BMW repaired at a BMW dealership.
  3. Buy a third-party extended warranty, which can offer better value and coverage options and allow repairs at some 30,000 facilities coast-to-coast, compared to about 340 BMW dealers. We looked at the market and picked what we think are the best extended car warranty providers based on extensive research.

By choosing the third option, you can take time to compare quotes and buy the warranty that ideally suits your own needs and budget. The top-rated companies provide generous perks that include roadside assistance with towing and rental car coverage, as well as trip interruption coverage that can pay for lodging and meals should you need to wait overnight for a repair while far from home. 

Compare free extended auto warranty quotes from several of these providers. We’re confident you’ll find excellent value and added peace of mind.