I have a confession to make…I HATE shopping. This will not come as a surprise to those that know me, as I tend to avoid shopping at all costs. Crowded stores, shopping malls, Black Friday; these are nightmare scenarios for me. There are a couple of exceptions: I like shopping for wine, and I like shopping online. I like shopping that doesn’t take a lot of time. 😀
Anyway, I do a lot of shopping online. I am a regular Amazon Prime buyer, and love getting things delivered in two days. I also tend toward sites that include free shipping. I have always researched purchases online prior to buying something significant, for example, riding gear, appliances, motorcycles, or cars. It’s a great way to see what all the options are, compare similar items, or read other buyers opinions on an item. In the latter case, caution is required since it seems only folks who either LOVE or HATE something are motivated to actually complete a review, but I still find them informative.
Recently, I had the opportunity to take it a step further. In our evolution as RVers, we have struggled with our inability to take both the motorcycles AND a car on our long trips. For trips of shorter distance, we have even driven a car separately to our destination. A few times we rented a car when we needed one. We have thought about trading our bikes for smaller ones, which we could haul on a lift on the back of our motorhome, or possibly, hauling a pickup truck, and loading the smaller bikes in the back. We ruled out the truck option due to weight, and the hassle of ramps and loading bikes into a truck bed. And we were not ready to give up our big bikes yet…
After a week in Gulf Shores in January with two other couples, and the luxury of riding around in one couple’s car, we decided we would start the process by simply trading one of our non-towable cars for a similar one that is towable. We decided this would be a good first step, and would then give us the option of taking an RV trip with the motorcycles, or a car. We like the utility and uniqueness of our Honda Ridgeline, so we decided to trade the Subaru XV Cross Trek, which is not towable due to its CVT transmission.
Let me clarify, there are several towing options, but our choice is flat towing, the simplest of the options. It requires a car that is approved by the manufacturer for four-wheels-down towing or the application of various aftermarket modifications that can void the warranty. Based on our friend’s experience, and what we like and need in a car, we decided on a Honda CR-V. Honda has long been a staple on the list of flat towable cars, but recent changes to CVT transmissions caused the CR-V to drop off the approved list beginning in 2015, so we narrowed down the options to Honda CR-Vs in the 2013-14 model years.
So, I set to searching online for options to buy a gently used, low mileage CR-V. We had bought our Ridgeline used from a nearby dealer, so I started there. Hmmm, no gently used, low mileage CR-Vs to be had there. I knew I needed to go national, so I expanded the search to Edmunds, Auto Trader, etc. Not much luck. I checked CarMax and found one or two, but they charge escalating fees to transfer a car from one location to another, based on distance. Then I remembered seeing a billboard for a new service called Carvana. I thought that it was for new car purchases only, but I was wrong. In fact, they deal in used cars, and only offer accident-free vehicles that have passed a 150 point certification process. Not to mention free delivery to your home, a 7-day test drive, complete satisfaction guarantee…this was a no brainer!
So I set up search filters for the years, colors, maximum mileage, model and even trim versions I was interested in. Bingo! I think at the time, there were 12 cars that met my requirements. Here is a sample search page:
Wow, I was impressed. I parked the top candidate, which had ALL the items we wanted, including tan leather interior, in my Carvana “garage” and started researching trade in options. I went to Kelly Blue Book, NADA, Edmunds, etc. and found out the trade in value. I then went to the “Value your trade” link on Carvana, and with the VIN, the mileage and a few clicks, I had a trade in value good for a week, and it was absolutely a number I was comfortable with. Just to be sure, I checked around and NO ONE else would give a trade in value without setting an appointment and inspection of the car at the dealership. UGH.
About this time, my husband returned from doing some work on the RV, and I walked him through the process. We were able to start a virtual tour to look at the CR-V in 360-degree views, with zoom capability and any minor flaws pointed out and photographed, inside and out, read the AutoCheck report, and see all the features and options. WOW!
We decided to go for it, after all, what did we have to lose with satisfaction guaranteed? We clicked purchase, applied our trade to the purchase, provided banking info for fees, etc., and then selected a delivery date, to our door, on Saturday morning at 9 AM. 🙂
A phone call and a couple of emails finalized the deal. I had to email photos of my driver license and the title of my trade-in, and then secure insurance prior to the delivery date. That’s it. No dealership visit, haggling with a salesperson, multiple trips to consult with the manager, no upselling of extended warranties or other stuff I didn’t need. Halleluyah!
Ok, it all seemed too good to be true, so we didn’t tell anyone until after the delivery, which went swimmingly, I might add.
We got a call about an hour before delivery, confirming the address and ensuring we were home. Upon arrival, the Carvana representative, Cole, allowed us to inspect the underside of the car before he unloaded it, then gave us the keys for a half hour test ride. Meanwhile, he reviewed our trade vehicle. When we returned, he reiterated our options:
- accept the car happily
- decline the new car and keep our trade
- decline the new car and search for another Carvana car (which you can do up to three times!)
Cole also reminded us that we had 7 full days to change our minds and invoke one of the options above. They do limit the mileage during that 7 days to 400 miles, or you can go over the mileage and pay for the extra miles should you decide not to keep it. Included in every Carvana purchase is a warranty for 100 days or 4000 or so miles, based on the average miles driven in the industry.
We were really pleased with the car, and off Cole went with our trade in Subaru.
Of course, the rest of the story is that we love the CR-V and are getting it set up to tow with a baseplate on the front bumper and tow bar to connect to the RV soon.
We cannot say enough good things about our Carvana experience! I highly recommend buying a car online. One of the perks left in the car was a sun shield with this quote on the inside:
“You buy shoes online, I buy cars!”