: Cadillac: "Pre-owned Certified" Scam

05-14-04, 04:14 PM
Cadillac Pre-owned Certification Scam

If anyone out there is considering buying a “pre-owned certified” Cadillac, be sure, BEFORE signing a contract, that the dealer documents they’re selling the car as “certified”. Also, be damn sure to inspect the car yourself, BEFORE purchasing it, to make sure the fluids have been topped off, filters changed, and the brake pads and tires are in good shape. If this stuff doesn’t check out, the dealer probably just detailed the car and put it on the showroom floor.

Technically, if a car has been certified, it means the car has been put through a “tough” 100+ point inspection. However, after my experience, I’m starting to doubt that any dealers really do this. Even more disturbing, is the fact that some dealers are selling cars as certified when they’re really not, as my dealer did.

For those interested, here are the details of my experience:

I recently purchased what I was told was a “certified” 2000 DeVille DTS (30,000 miles) from a Chicago area Cadillac dealer. Two weeks after my purchase, I called Cadillac Owners Assistance to find out exactly what my car’s certified warranty covered. They said they had no record of my car being certified. They then called the Sales Manager at the dealership. He told them the car hadn’t been put through the inspection yet so I just needed to bring it back, and then the paperwork would be submitted and the car officially under warranty. The Owner Center seemed satisfied with this answer and told me to follow up with the dealer. When I followed up, the Sales Manager changed his story saying the car was already inspected and not to worry because I would get my warranty information from GMAC in a couple weeks. He seemed very eager to get rid of me. At this point, I started to smell something fishy, so I took the car to my mechanic (which I should have done before the purchase), and found out that none of the car’s original filters had been changed nor the oil. I figured this little stuff had to be part of the inspection, so I called Cadillac Owner Assistance.

No one at Cadillac’s Owner Center had any idea what the official 100+ point inspection entails, and whether it was a requirement or just a loose guideline. I found this to be disturbing because, after surfing the Net for all of five minutes, I found the actual Certified Inspection Checklist on the official Cadillac web site. And low and behold, replacing filters and oil change are part of the checklist. Needless to say, the Owner Center people were pretty surprised, and embarrassed, to find out that the checklist was posted on their own web site.

At this point, I was understandably pissed and called the dealer again. I then found out that the Sales Manager who had sold me the car had just been fired (which was somewhat reassuring). I was then put in touch with the interim Sales Manager. This was a damage control guy who was there to clean up all the leftover garbage. The first thing the new guy told me was that my car could never be certified because it was beyond its original warranty. I then realized the original Sales Manager had put the big “Pre-owned Certified” sticker on the windshield so he could get more for the car (certification usually gets the dealer about $1500 more), and was counting on the buyer never following up on any of the supposed benefits. It then became clear why, when I was signing the paperwork for the vehicle and asking a lot of questions about the details of certification coverage, that the Financial Manager didn’t want to talk about it. He kept saying, “Oh that’s a GMAC thing. Talk to them about it. We just sell the cars here.” So if you hear this line, it should definitely be a BIG red flag! The guy even asked me to sign a document that said I knew was buying the car without any warranty. When I said, ‘Wait, what about the certified extended warranty?” he replied, “Oh, that’s between you and GMAC. This document is just stating that there’s no original warranty left on the car.”

In the end, the new Sales Manager gave me a free extended warranty and put the car back through service to change the filters and, supposedly, re-inspect the car. I’m somewhat satisfied with this resolution, as it gives me everything that was promised by pre-owned certification, but I’m definitely pissed I was scammed and very skeptical that any Cadillac dealers are really inspecting their cars. I also now wonder how many other Cadillac dealers out there are trying to pull the same scam of saying a car is certified when it really isn’t.

So, again, if anyone out there is considering buying a “Pre-owned Certified” Cadillac, be sure, BEFORE you sign any contacts, that the dealer provides you with documentation stating 1) they’re selling you the car as “certified” and 2) that some type of inspection has been done on the car.

I truly doubt that (as Cadillac is leading consumers to believe) mechanics are hoisting cars up and inspected every item on that joke of a checklist, but, at the least, the filters should be replaced, the fluids topped off, the brake pads at 90%, and there shouldn’t be any cracks in the tire walls.

I’ve already read Cadillac the riot act about all this, but that doesn’t mean it won’t continue to happen. Needless to say, this will probably be my last Cadillac dealer purchase, but I have to admit I love the car.

Oh yeah, here’s what Cadillac has on their site about certified inspections:

Inspection that rates a 100+
Our inspection process for certification is detailed and comprehensive.

Our trained technicians apply over 100 quality checkpoints to scrutinize these vehicles inside and out. We have stringent guidelines for mileage, mechanical condition, body appearance and structural integrity.
If you want to download the Certified Inspection Checklist, here’s the URL:


G. Val

05-14-04, 07:41 PM
Wow, that makes me angry.

05-17-04, 08:57 AM
We clearly mark on the Bill of Sale that the vehicle has been certified. If the dealer isn't willing to do this then something is up.


05-17-04, 10:08 AM
Hi gabeval,
Sorry to hear about your experience. It sounds like you did your homework and bought the car right. You were scammed by that dealership. It also sounds like they have begun to correct that situation. Please be patient and let them correct the situation. I agree that the inspection should have been performed before the sale saving you a lot of time and frustration. I can sympathize with you (I am currently working out some repair quality issues with my dealer) but they seem to be willing to work things out. This is good information for our other members considering a certified purchase!
Let us know how its works out! Maybe we can help further if needed.

05-18-04, 11:48 AM
I met with the dealer again last night in hopes of wrapping up this whole nightmare once and for all. As mentioned in my original posting, when I last talked with the new Sales Manager, he was going to give me a free extended warranty as compensation for the loss of the warranty that should have come with a truly certified vehicle. This seemed like a fair resolution: a 3-year/75,000 mile bumper-to-bumper warranty, and the dealer agreed to put the car through service again to properly recondition the car (change filters, etc.). That WAS the plan, however, last night the story change yet again, and so the nightmare continues...

Last night the dealer told me that there's no way they can give me any type of extended warranty on my 2000 DTS (31000 miles) because the car is out of its original warranty and GMAC would never honor such a warranty. They said if they gave me the warranty and then I brought the car in for warranty type service, GMAC would immediately reject coverage.

Does anyone out there know if this is true? I can't figure out exactly what disqualifies a car for certification or an extended warranty, and still feel like I'm getting scammed. I see a lot of 2000 DTS being advertised as "certified" that actually have more miles than my car. On the official Cadillac Web site it states that a car qualifies as long as it has under 50,000 miles and is younger than 5 model years. Am I missing something here?

To be fair, the new Sales Manager did apologize over and over for this mess and said what he could offer me the option to trade back my car for a comparable 2001 that was certified. I appreciate this offer, but it seems like it could take several weeks to find a comparable car that is exactly what I'm looking for (meaning I'd have to waste more of my precious time with these bozos).

I'm considering asking to give the car back and tear up the contract. I haven't paid any money yet, and didn't have a trade-in, so this seems like it would be a pretty simple/fair resolution. But would a dealer actually tear up contract and take a car back or am I out of touch with reality? Seems like they'd rather go through arbitration.

The other possibilty was for me to accept the car without any warranty (the dreaded "As is" option) and be refunded $1,000 (to cover what I paid over the purchase price for the supposed certification). Does this sound fair to anyone out there, and should I be getting more like $1,500 refunded? In any case, the dealer says a refund might not even be possible (he'd have to check with this boss), which really pissed me off? Why in the world wouldn't a dealership be able to refund some money, especially since one of their former employees scammed me?

Any advice (especially from any other dealers out there who are reading this) would be greatly appreciated.


05-18-04, 12:38 PM
Your best bet is to get a refund if possible because technically your car is NOT less than 4 ( 5 model years old ). It is tricky, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004...so now only 2001 and beyond models are less than 5 model years old and your 2000 is exaxctly 5 model years old.

And there is no way you could have realized the difference between the bogus pre-owned certified sticker and a real certified pre-owned sticker.

If you can get a check take it and then maybee look into GMPP...

05-18-04, 12:49 PM
Thanks for the advice. It's much appreciated. What is GMPP?

05-18-04, 01:02 PM
Thanks for the advice. It's much appreciated. What is GMPP?

General Motors Protection Plan. I myself don't have it...I'm living on the edge with my out-of-warranty 01.


05-18-04, 03:04 PM
This deal still smells of fish! It is common practice for dealers to "bait and switch" customers just when you think things are going smoothly. If it were me, I would want out completely and collect the money back. There are other DTS's out there, be patient find the right deal (you will be thankfull you did). It sounds like false advertising to me. Call your local Attorney Generals office or the Comsumer Affairs office and ask for advice.
Keep us posted.

05-18-04, 06:03 PM
The criteria for a car to be certified is that it has to be within the ORIGINAL factory (4 years 50,000 miles) when it is certified.

For example, my car is a 2001 Cadillac STS with an original in-service date of December 2000. I purchased the car in October 2003 with 20,500 miles on it. The original factory warranty did not expire until December 2004 so it was eligible to be certified. The warranty now goes 6 years from the original in-service date, again December 2000, or 100,000 miles which ever comes first.

I would make them give you a Major Guard GM Protection Plan or at least a VERY healthy discount off one.

Good Luck,


El Dobro
05-18-04, 10:28 PM
The dealer is full of it. I bought both of my Caddys from Cadillac dealers and purchased GMPP plans on both at the time I bought them. Both were already out of their respective factory warranties.

05-24-04, 03:55 PM
I just wanted to say thanks for all the advice, and to let you all know that, after a month of phone tag and a lot of patience on my part, this issue has finally been resolved to my satisfaction. I found it a little strange that both the Cadillac Customer Care people and dealership folks were so damn confused about what qualifies a car for an extended warranty, but maybe I was giving them more credit than they deserved. In any case, I now know that GMAC does NOT and will NEVER offer any type of extended warranty on a car that is out of its original factory warranty... period... end of story.

After realizing they couldn’t offer me a free GMAC extended warranty in place of the certified coverage, the dealer agreed to 1) give me a $1000 refund, 2) put my car through service again (change the filters, lube job, change a bad tire), 3) detail the car, 4) give me a nice loaner to drive while the car is being serviced. This is what I asked for, so I'm somewhat happy. Needless to say, I wish I'd never been scammed in the first place, and that this would've been resolved whole a lot faster, but I have to give the dealership credit for making things right.

After all was said and done, my impression is that this dealership is on the up and up, and I’m glad I was patient and gave them time to work everything out (thanks for that advice CADDYBLACK99). I guess I just had the very unfortunate luck/timing of buying a used car from one of the bad apples who worked over there (and it’s a good very sign that he was fired). But, in the end, I know I still got a good deal on the car (believe me I have spent countless hours checking the asking prices of comparable DTS'), and my mechanic says the car is in great condition (save the filters and one tire which will be replaced by the dealer), so now that this mess is all wrapped up, I can finely enjoy my dream caddy without feeling like the car has been tainted.

I don’t know what I’ll do with my $1000 refund - I might take it and purchase an out-of-market warranty (through Allstate, etc.) or save in the bank for the inevitable future Cadillac repairs. Then again, maybe I'll just place it all the Cubs to win the World Series. What would you do - buy the warranty or save it for future repairs?

Thanks again for all the advice. It really helped.

05-24-04, 04:33 PM
Wouldn't buying the warranty cover future repairs?

Its nice to hear that the dealership took responsibility, I'm glad to hear everything worked out for you.

05-25-04, 12:25 PM
What Cadillac dealer did you buy it from? I want to know for future reference!


El Dobro
05-25-04, 12:29 PM
What about a GMPP warranty plan?

06-01-04, 03:14 AM
This story really did help me in my recent purchase. I called Cadillac and was told that the Cadillac I was thinking about did indeed have the 6/100 Certified Cadillac Warranty.

I was initially scared because I called the GM protection plan HQ and was told by the dumb woman "Why didn't you call Cadillac instead of GM to check?"

I told her that it is a GM warranty (so what's the big woop). She checked hesitantly and said I don't see any record of Certification on this Cadillac.

Luckily I called Cadillac Customer Service afterwards and it was verified that it was Cad Certified! (RUDE IDIOT AT GM)

Do your homework! Thanks for sharing the story !


06-15-04, 04:10 PM
What Cadillac dealer did you buy it from? I want to know for future reference!

The dealer was Grossinger in Lincolnwood.

In the end, they gave me a $1000 refund and 4 new free tires, and put the car through what they said was a full certified comparable inspection (filter/oil change, safety check, etc). However, it took over two months to get all this done, which wasted a hell of a lot of my precious time. You'd think, if they really cared about me as a customer, they would have taken care of this within a couple weeks. It took forever to get call backs, and whenever I went into the dealership for a face to face, the Sales Manager would keep me waiting in a room for over 30 minutes, which really got my blood boiling (but I assumed this was just a petty power trip thing so I ignored it – getting my money was the goal). Bottom line: when it came time to close the deal and take my money, the staff was all over me and moving at lightening speeds. But when it came time for them to cut me a $1000 refund check, everyone suddenly disappeared and it took 2 months for me to be handed the check.

In any case, my impression in the end was they were hoping I'd give up after a few weeks of extreme frustration. But through it all I kept my cool and was relentlessly persistent. I left messages almost everyday and had the Cadillac Customer Care center call them to let them know I had complained.

So, with all this said, despite the fact that they followed through on their promises, I still would never buy another car from them nor would I ever tell any of my friends or family members to buy a car from them. Needless to say, I have taken all references to Grossinger (decals, etc.) off my car.

If anyone from Grossinger is reading this right now, you need to clean up your used car department because it's down right sleazy. I almost felt like I needed to take a shower every time I left that place.

Now that this frustrating saga has come to an end, I plan never to talk or think about this again. All I want to do now is sit back and enjoy my dream DTS.

As a side note, I managed to never to mention a word about all this to my wife. If I had, I never would have heard the end of it. :-)


03-06-05, 12:33 AM

This whole story just makes my heart sink...I was foolish enough to buy a 2003 DeVille from Grossinger on February 19. AFTER I bought it, I checked the BBB site and found out that Grossinger had a slew of complaints, and a dealer I had been working with told me that I should have bought from almost any other Cadillac dealer in the Chicago area, even if I hadn't bought from him.

The price lured me in, and the sales guy seemed ok. But I allowed myself to get suckered into the deal -- it happened very, very fast, and I was very tired at the time. By the time I got to finance, I had serious concerns (all the sales guy could produce was a Carfax report, not a service history) about the car and the deal. One big red flag was that the finance guy wasn't sure of which bank he'd go through -- I should not have left that dealer if there was any question about which bank was to be used, since it stated right on the contract the bank. And when I called the dealer on the following Monday and told the finance guy that I wanted to go through my credit union, he said that the deal was done and the payment book was on its way.

Another local dealer's service department was kind enough to fax the service history to me, and fortunately it is good (only a couple of warrany items; they were related to some recall).

I've bought imports from one dealer since 1991, and I've always had pleasant experiences. This experience made me feel awful for days, and every time I look at the car, I think of Grossinger and how uncomfortable I felt the day I bought the car. I guess as long as the car checked out (I still want to have a service department check it out), and I can refinance through my credit union, my wife and I will enjoy the car (it was primarily for her).

My advice to shoppers is to shop with your eyes wide open and don't let the dealers push you into making such a big decision unless you are 100% comfortable.

03-07-05, 02:13 PM
I hope this clarifies a little:

Cadillac Certified Pre-Owned is an extension of the MANUFACTURER WARRANTY.
GMPP is an extended service contract. There is a big difference here. MIC will not have a record, since the certification process is a manufacturer one. The only certifications they will be part of is on non-Cadillac GM vehicles like Chevy, etc.

The best way to verify is to ask for a copy of the vehicle service inquiry. The dealer can print this for you.

03-09-05, 10:16 PM
What makes me mad is how the dealership just tried to rip off the buy on these. My friend was going to buy a pathfinder for a good price. He brought his brother who works at a body shop and noticed that there was paint job done to it and that it could have been in a huge accident. The paint job could not have been noticed by a regular. Its all scams.