I’ve been wanting to purchase a new-used car for quite some time. Although fitting my family of three into my tiny, compact car was doable, it was getting less and less comfortable. Think toddler kicking the back of my seat all the time. This article is about buying a car online and my positive Carvana buying experience.
I’m not really a fan of car dealerships. In fact, I’ve never purchased a car at a dealership. As a kid, I remember sitting around for hours at car dealerships whenever one of my parents purchased a car. The experience was literally miserable and exhausting as a kid. I can’t imagine the stress and anxiety it might cause for an adult.
As an older millennial, I’m definitely not opposed to technology and taking care of business via the internet. If I can avoid going to a brick-and-mortar building for anything, I usually do. This includes buying a car!
Generally, my Carvana buying experience was very positive. I would do it again in the future unless they come out with something even better than getting a car delivered to your front door.
Of course, there were aspects of the experience that I wasn’t too happy about as well. I detail those in one section below.
So, here are the details of my positive Carvana buying experience.
What influenced me
Although I stated I’m generally not opposed to doing business on the internet, buying a car is a pretty big deal. So, naturally, I was hesitant.
I’ve known about Carvana for several years now and I never considered purchasing a car from them. Well, I wasn’t really in the market until this year. But still, Carvana never crossed my mind as a worthy contender for my business.
Enter my millennial younger cousin. My cousin showed up to my daughter’s birthday party in her new car freshly delivered from Carvana. As we’re catching up, I ask about the Carvana process. She proceeds to tell me that she bought the car in 5 minutes. Really, 5 minutes?!
- Additional reading: Creating the perfect gift bags for toddlers
Her car looked really good and she was very happy with the experience. The car buying process seemed very straightforward and easy. So, I set up the Carvana app and started looking for a car.
Finding your car
Carvana’s app is intuitive and easy to use. Their car inventory is updated constantly as cars are purchased and sold.
I was looking to purchase a Mazda CX-5, 2018 or newer, with all-wheel drive, low mileage, dark interior, and at least the Touring edition. As I’ve gotten older and have owned a few cars, I’ve gotten pickier with what I want and don’t want.
So, I was able to filter and save my search to these exact specifications. It then took me 6 weeks to pick a car. For about a month, I was deadset on getting a dark blue CX-5, but they all had white or tan interiors. With a young toddler, there was no way I could do a light interior.
After a while, I was getting impatient with my own pickiness. If I wanted a CX-5 with my exact wants, I would probably have to fork out way more money for a brand new vehicle, which I didn’t want to do.
I ended up choosing a dark gray CX-5 Grand Touring edition that met all of my initial specifications.
So, I’m not an expert at used car sales, but I’m pretty sure the economy and time of year affect the price of used car sales. According to experts, October through December are the best months to buy used cars. (Source)
That being said, I purchased my car at a time when used car sales were at an all-time high near the end of the Covid pandemic. Used cars were flying off the shelves and lots. I would say that I got a fair price for my car, but it wasn’t a stellar deal.
I’m sure there are great deals to be had on Carvana, but I didn’t get one. And I was okay with that. For me, ease of use and doorstep delivery were factors that outweighed the idea of haggling with a salesman to get a better deal.
The Carvana Online Process
So, I would say that my cousin was exaggerating a little bit when she said it took her 5 minutes to buy the car. Maybe she’s super fast online.
It took me around 25 to 30 minutes to input all of my information and check all of my options. Still, 30 minutes is really not that bad. Carvana will give you a 40-minute timer to finish the process, which is ample time to get through everything.
I am on a Reddit forum for Carvana, which was very helpful during this process. People share their personal stories, positive or negative, about their Carvana buying experience or selling experience.
One of the things I read about financing is that getting your own financing through a different bank can delay the process. Many people advised using Carvana financing and then immediately refinancing through a bank of your choice.
I ended up taking this advice because I didn’t want any delays with the process. Also, the thought of coordinating with my local credit union while trying to buy a car online in a very short period of time didn’t appeal to me.
I also read from other reviews that you’re not going to get the best interest rate with Carvana, and this is completely true. My pulled credit score was over 800 and the interest rate I got with Carvana was 5.6%. I’ve heard of some people getting 4% interest rates through Carvana, but those are probably few and far between.
As soon as I knew that I wanted to keep the car, I went to my local credit union and applied for a car loan at a much better interest rate. Even if you can’t secure the loan right there, most credit loan applications are good for 60 days. My credit union wouldn’t finalize the loan until they got a copy of the registration paperwork, so I did have to wait a bit.
When I got to the online portion to schedule my delivery, the soonest available delivery date was 8 days away. I’m not sure if this was because of the location of the car or the fact that I’m in New Mexico. I’m not even in a rural part of New Mexico.
So, I scheduled the delivery and waited 8 days for the car to arrive. On the delivery date, I received an e-mail from the driver requesting proof of insurance and a selfie with my driver’s license. I promptly returned everything she asked for by e-mail.
Then, she arrived 10 minutes earlier than my scheduled time, unloaded my SUV, and let me take the car for a short test drive. After the test drive, I signed all of the registration paperwork and the delivery driver was on her way.
Delivery was a breeze for me. So far, my Carvana buying experience was going great.
Carvana requires that you have verification of insurance for your new car on the date of delivery. Most large insurance companies like Geico or Progressive will allow you to add a new car online and choose the start date for coverage. Carvana supplies you with the VIN number and their lienholder address.
Getting the car insured was a breeze.
Many prior Carvana customers recommend getting a pre-purchase inspection (PPI) from a dealership within the 7-day return window. If the inspection yields costly repairs, then the mechanic can submit those repairs to Carvana’s warranty company Silverrock.
Alternatively, if your mechanic finds that there are many problems with your vehicle or you purchased a dud, you have the option of returning the car within the 7-day return period. It’s definitely worth it to buy the pre-purchase inspection.
I scheduled my pre-purchase inspection with a local Mazda dealership as soon as I ordered the car. The cost was $140, which was out of pocket. Since I bought the car with lower mileage, I didn’t expect them to find anything terribly wrong with the car.
Thankfully, the inspection revealed that it was in great running shape. This definitely helped to ease my mind throughout this whole process.
Carvana’s referral process is pretty neat. Once you purchase a vehicle through them, you can refer friends and family. When you refer someone, that person gets $500 off any Carvana purchase and you get a $100 check in the mail.
Since my cousin had recently purchased a vehicle through Carvana, I used her information and got $500 off my car purchase. She got a $100 check after the sale went through and the 7-day return window closed.
The referral process and saving $500 definitely made my Carvana buying experience much better!
Nitpicking the experience
For the most part, my Carvana buying experience went pretty smoothly and I would say it was a positive experience. Of course, there were small things that irritated me. I don’t know if any car buying experience is ever perfect.
These items might not even be issues for some.
Car interior not detailed
The car interior was generally clean, but it was far from being detailed. I could tell that someone had tried to wipe it down, but left many streaks on the side panels and the leather. There were several spots where they had sprayed but didn’t wipe, so I could see dried spray droplets in certain areas.
For the price we pay for used cars today, detailing would have been a nice perk.
Swirl marks on black trim of the car
Carvana will list the imperfections on the profile of each car. These are usually things like nicks, scratches, dents, and road rash. My car came with a couple of scratches and I was aware of it ahead of time, which was fine.
Carvana didn’t list the swirl marks on the black plastic trim of the vehicle. Swirl marks are super fine scratches on a car’s surface, usually caused by wiping it down with a dry or rough towel after a car wash. I’m not sure if they didn’t see it or if it was not considered an imperfection.
Either way, it is one of the things that bothered me during my Carvana buying experience. It would have been great if I was notified ahead of time. Although I wish the swirl marks weren’t there, it wasn’t enough of an issue to make me return the car.
Final thoughts on my Carvana buying experience
Overall, I’m glad that I had a good Carvana buying experience. I’m still getting acquainted with the car and really starting to enjoy it now. It definitely has more room for my little family, especially when we go on road trips.
Buying a car online can be a little daunting, so it did help me a lot to read reviews about the process and learn all of the little tips and tricks to make it go smoothly.
If there’s an aspect that I left out that you want to know about or if you have any other questions, drop a comment below!