Replacing The Car Lot With A Car Vending Machine: Is Carvana Legit?
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These days, you can buy and sell just about anything online. From blenders to medication, virtually everything is at your fingertips. Including your next set of wheels. But is a site like Carvana legit?
Several online car dealers have popped up in recent years, but the most visible is likely Carvana. Recognizable for using a giant "Carvana vending machine" in major urban areas, Carvana has created a foothold in the online car buying marketplace.
In this Carvana review, we'll give you a full rundown of the online auto retailer. Check it out and see if buying a car online is right for you.
- What is Carvana?
- How Do I Sell My Car to Carvana?
- How Much Can You Get For Your Car With Carvana?
- Is Carvana Legit as a Buyer?
- How Do I Buy a Car From Carvana?
- How Much Does Carvana Charge For Delivery?
- Is It Easy to Get Approved With Carvana?
- How Do You Pay Your Carvana Payments?
- What Types of Vehicles Does Carvana Purchase?
- How Do the Prices at Carvana Compare to the Competition?
- Carvana Alternatives
- Carvana FAQ
- Is Carvana Legit?
What is Carvana?
With a headquarters in Tempe, Arizona, Carvana maintains that it is the fastest-growing online used car dealer in the United States.
Although relatively new to the scene, Carvana comes from a long line of industry experts. One of its three main founders worked for several years at DriveTime, a national chain of car dealerships. Carvana acquired their first round of seed funding from DriveTime after starting as a subsidiary of DriveTime.
One of the main selling points of Carvana is its door-to-door nationwide delivery. Users can buy or sell a vehicle from Carvana’s website, then schedule delivery or pickup in a matter of days.
Buyers who are used to looking over a car thoroughly benefit from a detailed augmented reality vehicle inspection system, which can be done online as well. All of the financing can also be done through the website, eliminating the need for a lengthy in-person car dealership visit.
How Do I Sell My Car to Carvana?
There are a couple of ways you can sell your car to Carvana.
First, and most efficiently, is by providing your VIN number. This allows Carvana to pull up your exact vehicle and fill out all the necessary information for a quote automatically.
Alternatively, you can opt to fill in the information manually. There are three screens to work through, all of which will ask you to input various information about your vehicle. You type in the make and model, odometer reading, and any damage to the vehicle that you know of.
Carvana will also ask what existing financing you have and how much you have left to pay on your vehicle.
Once you’ve filled out the information, you'll be given a quote that you can either accept or reject.
Feel free to shop around and compare quotes with other car retailers. Statistically speaking though, Carvana will usually return one of the highest offers available.
If you accept the offer they give you, the next step is to schedule a pickup. This can be done anytime during the weekday or on the weekends – whatever is most convenient for you. Carvana will then bring a trailer to your front door, perform an inspection on the vehicle to make sure that it matches up with what you put on the website, do a check, then drive off.
How Much Can You Get For Your Car With Carvana?
Like other companies, Carvana is legit but is limited by the amount of inventory they have on hand at any time. Since they are a relatively new company, they need to fill their inventory quickly in order to attract buyers.
This means you stand a good chance of getting a very reasonable offer when you sell through Carvana.
Best of all, you can get a quote for your vehicle before filling out a ton of lengthy paperwork. Within a few minutes, you should be able to determine whether or not an offer from Carvana is right for you.
Is Carvana Legit as a Buyer?
Carvana is a publicly-traded company that has a listing on the New York Stock Exchange. As such, they file regulatory paperwork that keeps them in compliance with all major United States laws.
In other words, Carvana is a completely legitimate company. Any issues that you may have, whether buying or selling, can be handled in-house. Should you need to pursue any legal action, that option is available as well.
How Do I Buy a Car From Carvana?
The process of buying a new car from Carvana is just as straightforward as selling one. The one caveat is that since all of the deliveries are in the United States, you have to be stateside to buy a vehicle and receive delivery.
Go on to Carvana's website and create an account. From there, you can use the search box to filter available vehicles by make, model, or keywords. Adjust the dials to make sure you have the down payment and monthly payments you desire, as well.
Once you've decided on a car, click the image for more info.
The countdown timer will appear, indicating that the car is reserved for you for a certain period of time. Inspect the car as thoroughly as you want, and if you're ready to purchase, click “get started” to start the buying process.
The form only takes a few minutes to create (if you have an account already). If you're trading a car in, you'll have to give some details about your vehicle at this point. Otherwise, select your payment option and method of delivery to continue the process.
Like most car dealerships, Carvana will offer you various protection packages to choose from. If you like to buy one from them, add it on at this stage.
At this point, all they need to do is verify your monthly payment and driver's license, after which you can select your method of delivery.
How Much Does Carvana Charge For Delivery?
How much you pay for delivery from Carvana depends on where you live from your car's origination point. If you live near major urban areas, there's a chance that your delivery may be free. Otherwise, you can expect to pay anywhere between $190-$599 for delivery nationwide.
Carvana offers an extremely generous seven day money back guarantee on all their vehicles. If you decide to return your vehicle for whatever reason within that window, you will only be responsible for the transportation costs.
Additionally, if you wish to change your vehicle out with another one, you should also only be responsible for a single delivery charge.
Is It Easy to Get Approved With Carvana?
Carvana would prefer to not only make money off of your car purchase, but also the financing, if possible. This is where normal auto retailers make a good bit of money, so it makes sense that Carvana will offer you a few options as well.
If you decide to become prequalified, the process takes a few minutes and shouldn't impact your credit score at all. Once it's verified, you have 45 days to select a vehicle from their website. All the auto loan terms and monthly payments are visible once your credit is approved.
According to their website, nearly 99% of people are approved for at least some form of financing from Carvana.
How Do You Pay Your Carvana Payments?
When it comes time to make your payments to Carvana, you'll have several options to choose from. Rest assured that Carvana is legit and your payment information is safe.
During the actual purchase process, you'll need to input your bank account information. You can do this either through manually entering your account and routing numbers, or linking your bank account with Plaid (which they recommend).
Both of these options will allow Carvana to automatically process the funds from your account.
Once you actually have an account set up — and your seven-day money-back guarantee is over — you can adjust minor details from your loan. You can set up auto-pay or make extra payments either online or through the Carvana app.
What Types of Vehicles Does Carvana Purchase?
Carvana accepts a wide range of vehicles. Generally speaking though, it must meet a few conditions.
First off, your car must must be a 1992 model or newer. No classics allowed on this platform.
The odometer must also be in working condition, and the person that picks up your vehicle must be able to safely perform a test drive.
In the event that your registration has expired, Carvana will still accept your vehicle (unless you live in California).
How Do the Prices at Carvana Compare to the Competition?
The prices at Carvana are comparable to those you would find it any in-person auto lot. Tax, title, and registration will all apply, so it's a good idea to check locally to see if you can find a better deal.
Where Carvana absolutely trounces the competition is in their no-haggle buying process. What you see on the website is what you get; you can't argue for a lower price, no matter how much you value your negotiating skills.
While some people may prefer to spend hours going back and forth over a few hundred dollars, many younger car buyers do not. This makes Carvana not only a popular choice now, but for the foreseeable future of car buying as well.
Despite being a popular and legit option, Carvana is not the only game in town. There are several other online car retailers that are looking to enter the marketplace.
Below are a few options for you to examine in case you can't find your dream vehicle on Carvana.
In many ways, Vroom is a clone of Carvana.
Both operate online-only auto dealerships. Both charge a maximum of a $599 delivery fee (nonrefundable in Vroom's case). Both of them offer vehicles at roughly the same price.
What's the difference? For starters, Vroom doesn't have the best online reviews. The Better Business Bureau currently gives it an “F” rating, with many of the complaints stemming from misrepresentation of vehicle quality.
Additionally, Vroom's loan terms are usually undisclosed. This shouldn't matter too much if you've got a great credit score, but for those who want to shop for more competitive rates, Vroom isn't much help.
Still, it's another nationwide car dealer that offers vehicle delivery to your front door, so it's worth a look at least.
If you prefer shopping online for vehicles but still want to look at your car in person before buying, CarMax is for you.
Unlike Carvana, Carmax relies on a network of physical stores to increase their inventory. More than 55,000 vehicles are available to view online, and any one of them can be shipped to any store for a fee.
Like Carvana, Carmax does not allow you to haggle for lower car prices. The amount listed on their website is firm; the attendants you see on site are not salespeople as much as checkout clerks.
Carmax is unashamedly focused on the customer experience. Their staff is extremely well trained in spotting and fixing any defects with the vehicle and will almost always offer to sell you a car after they buy your used one.
Generally speaking, their prices are also usually lower than other dealerships. Carmax's hybrid model of online shopping and in-person pickup (or delivery within 60 miles) makes them a good in-between for traditional and virtual car buying experiences.
Anyone who has bought anything online in the last 20 years has most likely heard of buying, selling, and even eBay dropshipping.
Ebay Motors strives to replicate the exact same buying and selling process for cars that made it famous for collectibles and other household goods. Individual sellers will list their vehicle online, and individual buyers can inspect and purchase directly from them.
The risk should be obvious. Without an intermediary service to actually inspect the car, it can be a mixed bag as to what kind of vehicle you actually receive. While many thousands of customers have found it a gem online, there have also been lots of people that are less than satisfied.
On the other hand, the fees associated with eBay motors and flexible selling options may be enticing enough that it's worth the risk. It just depends on what kind of buyer you are and what kind of vehicle you're looking for.
Started at around the exact same time as Carvana, Shift is another online car lot that offers consumers an end-to-end car buying experience. Financing, paperwork, trade-ins, and delivery of your vehicle are all offered on Shift's platform.
The one huge difference between Shift and Carvana is the test drive. Whereas Carvana forces you to buy the car before actually driving it (although it does come with a seven-day window for returns), Shift will deliver your car to you and allow you to test drive it before purchase. There is normally a delivery fee, but that applies with your purchase or not.
The quality of vehicles that you purchase on Shift are held to a standard. Every car must pass a 150-point inspection before they're listed on Shift's website. Customer service records and history reports are also reviewed by Shift's technicians, to make sure that you are satisfied.
Can You “Haggle” With Carvana?
Carvana prides itself on making the car buying process as simple as possible.
For that reason, Carvana does not allow you to haggle for a lower price on any vehicle.
Although you will pay taxes and fees just like you would at a normal dealership, you won't see the same kind of dealer markups. Car lots are notorious for introducing hidden fees during the lengthy buying process to increase revenue, but Carvana is fully transparent about the pricing.
If that wasn't enough, you also have a seven-day period where you can take the vehicle for a test drive and return it if you choose.
Can Carvana Change Your Offer?
Once Carvana offers you a price for your vehicle, that price is valid for seven days or 1,000 miles. Unless you change the information and resubmit your vehicle, or the Carvana representative finds that your information was inaccurate, you should expect to receive that offer when you sell your car.
How Long Does it Take to Sell to Carvana?
Speed is the name of the game when it comes to dealing with Carvana. They know that most people don't enjoy the buying or selling process, so they want to make it is efficient as possible.
The whole process of selling your car to Carvana takes less than an hour. Once you submit the paperwork and schedule your vehicle's pick up, all you have to do is wait for the technician to arrive. This process is also quick, with most visits taking less than 15 minutes.
In the event that you choose to bring your car to a Carvana tower, the company will even pay for your ridesharing trip back home.
Can You Test Drive at Carvana Before Buying?
The one major drawback to Carvana's operations is the fact that you can't test drive the vehicle before you purchase it. Although they do have the seven-day window, many customers prefer to actually sit behind the vehicle before making a purchase that large.
If this is not something you're willing to bend on — and you don't think the seven-day buyback period is long enough — Carvana might not be the right choice for you.
Is Carvana Legit?
There's no question that Carvana is a completely legit company, but fully answering that question completely depends on how comfortable somebody is with the idea of buying a vehicle online.
For some, it's a dream come true. For others, it sounds like a nightmare waiting to happen.
This does seem like the next logical progression in car buying though, so if nothing else, it's certainly worth looking into more closely.
And if the automotive niche interests you, here are some other articles you may enjoy:
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