Last quarter Ford launched its new Blue Advantage used car buying service, in an attempt to turn clicks into sales for its Ford dealers. Ford promises an excellent experience on its Blue Advantage cars, and the service includes cars from other marques. Dealers have signed up in droves.
Launched in February, Ford worked in conjunction with Autotrader to debut its new used car platform. Essentially a Ford storefront with Autotrader wiring underneath, the format will look familiar to anyone who’s shopped Autotrader in the past 10 years.
Cars listed on the Blue Advantage site are available at Ford dealers who have signed up with Ford to offer the service. Used cars are inspected by technicians at the dealership, and have additional warranty coverage from Ford like a standard CPO car. Gold Certified cars must be of Ford branding, six years or younger, and have less than 80,000 miles. Gold cars receive a 172-point inspection, and include a comprehensive limited warranty for 12 months or 12,000 miles, along with a seven-year, 100,000-mile powertrain warranty.
The lesser Blue Certified level can apply to any brand car that’s at max 10 years old, and with a max of 120,000 miles. The inspection is less at Blue level at 139 points, and the warranty is less too: 90 days and 4,000 miles comprehensive limited warranty, and that’s it. Some cars receive complimentary roadside assistance, but Ford doesn’t clarify which ones. It’s available to every Blue Advantage customer for a fee.
Ford focused on providing an online shopping experience which would allow customers to avoid visiting a dealership if desired. Ford’s research showed that in 2019, 3 million used Fords sold across the US but only a third of them were via Ford dealers. Blue Advantage seeks to change that with perks in addition to the inspection and warranty. Blue Advantage offers home delivery, at-home test drives, and video walkarounds. They throw in a CarFax too, for good measure.
All Blue Advantage cars are listed with a dealer guaranteed selling price to eliminate haggling. The site also indicates whether the pricing you’re receiving is Good or Great, per KBB. At Ford’s initial reporting in February, over half of Ford’s dealers in the US signed up for the Blue Advantage program.
It’s interesting to see Ford covering other manufacturers’ vehicles with its own warranty, even for a short time. In those first 90 days if your 2014 Fiat 500L breaks down, you’ll take it back to your Ford dealer and have it serviced alongside F-150s by technicians who are just thrilled.
Within 50 miles of my zip code, there are 440 Blue Advantage cars presently for sale, 356 of which are Ford branded. The oldest car listed is a Blue Certified Jeep Liberty from 2012, proving that Ford dealers are willing to certify cars right at the limit. This program with its hassle-free pricing does bring up interesting potential conflicts with customer experience. If said customer sees a car on the dealer’s regular site and then proceeds to the dealership only to find it’s Blue Certified and there’s no negotiation possible, does that result in a sale? Guess we’ll see.