Ford is launching an ad campaign this week touting its new certified pre-owned vehicle program as one of the best in the industry.

The automakers says its “Ford Quality Checked” program focuses on improving quality, enhancing the pre-owned delivery experience, boosting customer satisfaction and giving “peace of mind” to used-vehicle customers.

The program was developed in conjunction with dealers and Ford Division’s advertising agency, J. Walter Thompson USA. Print, national and regional network radio advertising, and interactive Internet elements are underway.

Ford Quality Checked offers customers top-quality used vehicles at Ford dealerships. Customer benefits include a 6-year/75,000 mile limited powertrain warranty, a 115-point vehicle inspection and a clean quality pre-owned vehicle backed by Ford.

The delivery process is identical to the new-vehicle process, including a full tank of gas. Customers also can get 24-hour roadside assistance and the benefit of service loaner coverage.

“The Ford Quality Checked Pre-owned vehicle program has helped to change the perceptions consumers have about buying used vehicles,” says Larry Chetwood, owner of Meridian Ford in Idaho. “The program is designed, implemented and backed by Ford Motor Company.”

Sales of pre-owned vehicles have exceeded 40 million units every year since 1994, making that market more than twice the size of the new-car market.

Franchised dealers -- who tend to market younger pre-owned vehicles -- last year sold about 16.2 million used units. Independent used-car dealers sold about 13.6 million. Private party used-car sales accounted for 11.9 million units.

Ford anticipates that more than 40% of its dealers will be Ford Quality Certified pre-owned dealers by the end of this year, with more added later.

“Most customers who purchase pre-owned vehicles are savvy consumers, many of whom shop the Internet, compare certified programs and demand the same high quality they would find in a brand new vehicle,” says Mike Dennis, Ford’s manager for used-vehicle certification. “Our advertising campaign reflects these customer demands. With a Ford Quality Checked Certified Pre-owned vehicle, it's likely that the only way a customer will know the vehicle is not brand new is by looking at the odometer.”

IntelliChoice, the leading consultant for rating certified pre-owned programs in the industry, ranked Ford Quality Checked second of 23 non-luxury vehicle manufacturers (www.intellichoice.com). Honda ranked first. The ratings are based on inspection lists, warranties, roadside assistance benefits and return/exchange policies.

Print ads will begin appearing in May issues of various lifestyle, business, parenting and automotive publications.

The single-page ads feature various Ford vehicles and incorporate a catchy element in hopes of changing the perceptions that consumers may have about pre-owned vehicles. A simple phrase is written in bold letters on the windshield of each vehicle to help express the idea that pre-owned vehicles are just as good as new ones.

For example, the Ford Taurus’ windshield reads “The difference between new or used? PRE-SET RADIO STATIONS” and the Ford Mustang’s windshield reads “More Like PRE-WORSHIPPED.”

Radio advertisements begin this week. National network stations will air 30 second ads and the regional networks will air 60 second ads. Some music programs in which the ads will air include Casey Kasem's Top 40, American Country Countdown and MTV/VH1 radio. The radio ads also will air on a variety of sports programs, such as the NBA Playoffs, Stanley Cup and Major League Baseball.

A new website, www.fordcpo.com, lists warranty details, explains the 115-point inspection process, identifies the more than 655 participating Ford Quality Checked dealers and describes program specifics.