Paul: I'm truly sorry you ran into so much trouble with a "certified" pre-owned vehicle. But you're right in some cases....really a lot of it depends upon the dealership and what sort of reputation they have and what sort of PR
policy they have and want to maintain. Usually the problem exists between the SALES people and the SERVICE department. Salesmen do or say just about anything to get you to sign the contract. At that point, it's really incumbent upon YOU to go thru that car with the salesman and make him show you the pre-owned certified sheet that shows what was supposedly checked and then go thru all the lights, turn signals, radio, electronics etc. I did that with my 09 "certified" and asked them to give me the shop printout that shows what the mechanics checked and how many hours they charged to doing whatever checks they said they performed. Usually the dealships don't want to show you that sheet, because it contains the mechanic's assessment of things he noticed. Mine had the comment...possibly torn CV boot on left front. I made them change it out otherwise who would have crawled under there to see if the CV boot was torn? I also noticed that the sub-woofer was missing (someone took it and the car is the LE fully loaded wiht the upgraded Bose system). Also found that the iPod cable worked but didnt' charge the iPod and it would go dead....noted that. The service manager was really pissed because each department has its own budget...so service had to eat over $700 to correct things that might have gone unnoticed long enough that they could come back and say....Hey it worked when it left here, and after all, it IS A USED CAR so the bumper to bumper warranty (3/36) had expired. Tough luck...you have to eat it.
I ended up going to another dealership and told them I'd transfer all my maintenance to them and established some rapport and PR
with the service manager. My good!! Two weeks later the up/down motor that moves the steering coluimn up and down broke, and it was NOT covered by the exteded warranty I bought...but the service manager "Good Willed" the fix and they ate $400....but now they have all my business.
Bottom line is that Certified Pre-Owned is semantics designed to get the car out of the image of being a "USED CAR"....and somehow infuse some class and reliability into it by virtue of using better sounding words. Let me add that all dealerships aren't like this, but they don't make money by eating labor and parts....so the best hedge you have against eating ongoing expenses (up to a point) is developing that rapport with the the service manager. He/she is allowed to use a certain amount of discretionary decisions about how much or if they'll cover the costs of the repair...or give you a discount. A good service manager can write up a problem in such a way that Nissan will file it under their fix-it category rather than decline the request. So much depends upon verbiage...so get in good stead with your service folks.
The difference between the two dealerships I dealt with was like night and day. Where I bought it they were BS'ers....where I ended up they were truly PR
oriented and bent over backwards to ensure you left as a satisfied customer.