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Buying a used car can be a downright hassle depending on where you buy it from. However, third-party used car dealers like Carvana aim to make the buying process as easy as possible. It starts with the car buyers choosing and purchasing their car completely online and then having it delivered to their homes. It’s a simple process, but there are pros and cons to it.

Shopping for a used car with Carvana

Carvana logo displayed on a smartphone
Carvana logo displayed on a smartphone | Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Finding a used car through Carvana is as easy as finding laundry detergent on Amazon. After logging onto, buyers can search the nationwide inventory for a specific car using the search bar or find a car by picking the body style, make, model, features, and even the price. After figuring out the search parameters, buyers can then select a car from the list of results and look over all of the detailed pictures and information included.

If everything looks good, then the buyer can create an account and then go through a series of screens to complete the purchase. These screens include trade-in information, payment details, delivery details, and other personal information. Afterward, a Carvana representative gets in touch with the buyer to schedule a delivery and go over any other purchase details.

When the car is delivered, the buyer then has seven days to return the car, if needed. However, there is no test drive done when the car is initially delivered.

Pros for using Carvana

Carvana's vending machine offers a novel pick-up experience for cars purchased on their website
Carvana’s vending machine offers a novel pick-up experience for cars purchased on their website | Mark Ralston via Getty Images

Now that we understand how the Carvana buying process works, we can check out the perks of using the service:

  • The car selection is massive: Buyers can choose between a multitude of makes and models all of the nation.
  • Car quality and vehicle history: Many of the cars on Carvana’s site look nearly immaculate and each one comes with a history report from Carfax.
  • Return policy: The seven-day return policy is a “no questions asked” affair
  • The vehicles go through a 150-point inspection
  • Purchase includes a free oil change
  • 100-day warranty
  • Nearly everything is done online

Cons for using Carvana

For every positive, there’s a negative. Fortunately, in the case of Carvana, there are not too many cons:

  • The prices of cars may be on the higher side compared to private party sales or other used car dealers.
  • No opportunity to test drive the car upon delivery
  • Buyers might not see certain features or damage from the online pictures alone.

Carvana does have a lot of praise and some horror stories

Carvana logo is seen on a smartphone screen.
In this photo illustration, the Carvana logo is seen on a smartphone screen. | (Photo Illustration by Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

If you look at Carvana’s customer reviews page, there are many positive reviews about the service. A lot of reviews echo each other with statements like, “The process was easy. I got a great deal and they even delivered the car early!” Other reviews will say things like, “What great experience to deal with the nice folks at Carvana.”

However, there are some negative reviews as well. After checking the Better Business Bureau website, it was clear that some buyers didn’t have the same experience as others. There are reviews that detail “horrible” experiences like car deliveries being delayed by months or unseen damage on cars that Carvana refuses to do anything about. Also, buyers have also complained that the 150-point inspection is not nearly enough and that some of the cars sold are in worse condition than their pictures show.

How to protect yourself when buying a car from Carvana

Again, for every positive experience, there are negative ones. Fortunately, if you’re planning to buy a car from Carvana, you can be prepared for the worst in order to make your experience as pleasant as possible.

First, we recommend always giving the pictures of the car a thorough look in order to make sure that it’s the car that you want. Second, we suggest getting the car inspected by a third-party mechanic during the initial week you have the car. That way, you’ll have a second pair of eyes on it and can bring up any issues with Carvana during those seven days.

Also, if you have any issues with the car, don’t be afraid to use Carvana’s return policy. After all, it’s the second-biggest life purchase that you can make. Luckily, Carvana makes the entire process from start to finish as easy as possible. It is indeed “the new way to buy a car.”


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