Carvana is working to turn the used car buying process on its head by streamlining both the sale of your old car and the purchase of a new car. Since its inception in 2012, Carvana’s mission has been to enable riders to get their next set of bikes from the vending machines with the same ease you would expect when grabbing a candy bar.
Putting the gold coin and vending machine kitsch aside, to determine if Carvana is right for you, you need to consider what’s most important to you when buying a car. To get the best deal, understand the entire process from research to vehicle financing to key collection before heading to the online showroom.
What to expect when buying a car from Carvana
Carvana’s used car buying process prides itself on seamless purchasing while encouraging personalization through its customer support. Carvana currently operates entirely online with just 34 vending machines in the US, but offers delivery alongside its vending machines.
The company’s goal is to “ensure you have peace of mind when it comes to your new vehicle.” The About Us section of the website states that while Carvana sells cars, they don’t have car dealers. This approach differentiates the company from traditional competition that can increase the pressure on employees. It also eliminates the need for negotiations and face-to-face communication – perfect for those who want to buy and drive without the extra hassle.
How to buy a car from Carvana
The process of buying a vehicle through Carvana can be completed entirely online and – according to the company’s support center – in just a few easy steps.
Prequalify for funding
Before you start buying a car, it’s a good idea to apply for car loan pre-qualification with Carvana — and at least two other lenders. The process, which Carvana says takes less than five minutes, gives you an accurate view of what you can afford. Pre-qualification is an important step in getting the best car loan available. Simply fill out personal information such as your contact details, employment status and annual income.
Buy a vehicle
With the amount you can really afford, you can now search the 25,000 vehicles available – all checked by both Carfax and AutoCheck. Go to the Find a Car tab on the website and you’ll be presented with available options near you. Here you can also set the price you want to pay, how you want to pay, the make and model, year and mileage, body type and the features you want. If you have a specific vehicle in mind, you can see if it’s available near you.
Discover the vehicle of your choice
After setting your sights on your dream car, which will be held for 30 minutes, you can virtually view the vehicle inside and out by clicking on the “Start Now” tab. Here you can also get a better overview of the mileage, vehicle specifications and available warranty. All Carvana vehicles come with a seven-day money-back guarantee and a 100-day limited warranty.
Confirm your payment method
This page also describes the expected cost of the vehicle for both the ‘one-off payment’ and ‘monthly payment’ options. The “Pay Once” price takes into account the entire prepaid price for the vehicle, including shipping. For those who choose to finance the vehicle, Pay Monthly shows your monthly cost based on your initial prequalification number. If you want to trade, you can explore that option here as well.
Choose delivery or collection
Once you’ve selected your vehicle and confirmed payment, you can choose to have the vehicle delivered to your door or collect it from one of 34 vending machines across the country. If you live near a machine and choose this option, you will receive an individual coin which, once inserted, will retrieve the vehicle from the car tower and take it to the delivery bay. You can now drive off in your new vehicle.
Pros and cons of Carvana
If the goal is to avoid in-person negotiations or purchases, Carvana is a dream come true for many drivers. Still, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons of a fully remote process.
Benefits of Carvana
The main benefit of shopping at Carvana is convenience. Because yes, while the novelty of ordering your vehicle to your door is appealing, it’s a great option for those looking to get away from the traditional car buying experience altogether.
If you were to purchase your vehicle from a traditional dealership, you would likely research online beforehand, meet with a salesperson, walk around the property and possibly walk away with a vehicle or come back another day. When you buy from Carvana, you can decide on your vehicle in the morning and potentially have your new set of wheels by sundown that night. This is a key selling point for many riders looking to buy in the easiest possible way imaginable.
Disadvantages of Carvana
The main disadvantages drivers may encounter boil down to the inability to get a real feel for the vehicle from images alone. While the warranty program means you can return the vehicle if it’s not the right fit, the return process can be frustrating.
Unlike in the parking lot, you cannot turn the car before signing out. Another factor that you can’t tell from photos alone is external damage or how certain features work for you. While Carvana vehicles undergo a 150-point inspection, you can’t get a perfect feel for a car unless you’re in person.
Reviews of Carvana
The reviews, presented directly on the Carvana website, are mostly positive, with a score of 4.7 out of 5. Many reviews focus on the “smooth and hassle-free” process. Other reviews comment on the wide range of vehicle prices available and the quick credit pre-approval. This reflects much of what Carvana prides itself on and remains the main draw for many drivers.
However, outside of the Carvana universe, there are some drivers who have had a more negative buying experience. Reviews on Trustpilot have an average score of 3.7, which is below Carvana’s internal score. Some examples of common complaints include drivers having to commute more than 50 miles to pick up their vehicles and unhelpful customer service attorneys.
This is how you get the best vehicle with Carvana
As with any vehicle purchase, research is key to the best possible car process. Be patient while shopping and compare the different vehicles available. Pay attention to specific factors like MPG and available technology, and check out the Kelley Blue Book for outside vehicle reviews.
During the seven days after receiving your car, it is advisable to have the car inspected by a mechanic. This way you can take advantage of Carvana’s return policy if the car isn’t perfect.
Should I buy my next vehicle from Carvana?
The bottom line is, if the thought of going to a dealership is stressful, then avoid it and go the no-contact route, which leaves you with just a new set of wheels. But if you prefer the adrenaline rush that comes with negotiating the best deal and need to be in the driver’s seat to see if it’s right, then Carvana may not be for you.