My Experience Buying a Car from Carvana

My wife and I recently had our second son, Bennett. Now as the father of 2 kids, it’s about time for this BRO to get…….. a mini-van.

me and the whip, nbd

The wifey and I really pride ourselves in “doing the research”. With making such a big purchase, we put in the time to find the right car.

A friend of ours in Texas recently told us about Carvana — the “new way to buy a car.” I spent hours upon hours on and off Carvana’s site, researching their cars and ways to get the best deal. Some of the things on Carvana honestly seemed to good to be true. So my wife and I decided to go to a normal dealership in our hometown, Wichita, KS, to get a test drive and “negotiate” a deal.

Here’s a full breakdown of our 2 very different experiences:


Deal breakdown:

2016 Kia Sedona

List Price: $18,500 + Dealer Fees ($450)
Financing Terms: 5.9% APR (72 months)
Miles: 48K
Color: Maroon
Warranty: 12,000 mile bumper-to-bumper coverage, 100,000 mile powertrain coverage

We went to a dealership in Wichita, KS. I told the car salesman up-front — yo, just looking to test drive one of those slick Sedonas. They buttered us up nice — got the 2 year old some snacks and everything. When they brought up the Sedona for the test drive, I noticed a few issues: interior wasn’t incredibly clean, the side door shrieked like Chewbacca when it opened/closed, and the lever for the back seat completely popped out of the socket when I tried to pull the seat into the upright position. Otherwise, the car was okay… just maroon. Wifey and I really didn’t like maroon.

So after the test drive, they take us back inside. The salesman said he gets to ask us one tough question… “what would it take for you to buy this car TODAY”. I said “I don’t know… maybe take 2k off…” . The salesman said, “let me take it to the back”. Salesman came back out and said — “I can’t do 2k off … but I can do 1k off and add in the CPO (Certified Pre-Owned) Warranty, which is a 1k value.” The CPO would give us a pretty good warranty… 12,000 mile bumper-to-bumper coverage, 100,000 mile powertrain coverage.

I told the guy I appreciate the offer, but we still aren’t going to buy today. He said to me — “well — if you want to lock in that price for today, you can fill out some of the paperwork. You won’t be purchasing the car today, simply reserving it at that price so that if you choose to buy in the next week, it’s ready to go.”

It seemed like a reasonable offer. I knew the price was in the range for a 2016 Kia Sedona, but hadn’t researched enough to know if it was really that good of a price. The salesman said the next step is to do some of the paperwork with the financing dude in the back.

The financing dude was greasing his palms as we walked in (dramatization). He whipped out the paperwork and we started talking about our our financing options. I was prepared for the up-sell offers: extended warranties, maintenance plans, all of that. After turning them all down a couple times, we moved on to the official paperwork to “lock in this deal”. My wife and I both confirmed on every single page as we signed, “just to confirm — we are NOT buying the car today, correct?” The dude said — “I can’t file any of this paperwork until I get that down payment. You won’t own this car until we get the down payment from you.” My wife and I confirmed that so many times, the dude seemed to get annoyed with us. We left the dealership really uneasy about the purchase, and I decided to keep looking that night.

I called the salesman in the morning and told him we were out. After some more “tough questions”, he seemed to accept that he wasn’t going to make the sale.

Two days later — I get a call from the “Director of Internet Sales” asking when I’m going to pick up my car. I told him I didn’t buy a car, was just simply looking. This guy told me it was “actually a binding contract.”… and that I am now the owner of a maroon mini-van. I told the “Director of Internet Sales to go talk with the salesmen and financing dude, they would confirm that I did not purchase the van.” This guy called me back 30 minutes later and said I do own the car, that they will get the down payment from me “one way or another”, and that I need to come pick up the car.

My wife and I went into the dealership that afternoon and raised hella-hell. After sweating us out for 45 minutes in the back office, a guy with financing called us to the back. He said we legally owned the car. I vehemently told him exactly what went down, and that there were some serious miscommunications on their part.

He said — “that’s just the car business”. I said — “that’s why we’re out”. He said “fine, I’ll cancel the deal”. I said (to myself) “we’re never buying from a dealership again.”



Deal breakdown:

2016 Kia Sedona
List Price: $18,250 — $500 for the referral code (-$500), and …. NO DEALER FEES!
Financing Terms: 4.78% APR (72 months)
Miles: 43K
Color: Dark Grey
Warranty: 100 Day Carvana warranty (bumper-to-bumper), 60,000 mile powertrain coverage from manufacturer.

We initially heard about Carvana through a friend in Texas who bought a car on the site… He said the experience was great, so we kept it in our back pocket for when we were car searching. So after deciding we wanted a Kia Sedona, the search on Carvana began.

After going through the 360 degree view a couple (hundred) times, we decided on the right mini-van. This one was black, 2015, less miles, little bit better deal overall. I got the financing terms, filled out the paperwork online, put in my payment info in for the down payment… even set up the time to pick it up.

Next morning, we got an email that said the car would be delayed over two weeks. It had a wiring issue that needed to be repaired. Wifey and I were going on a trip in the next week, and wanted to get the car before the trip. So…. back to the search.

Came down on our second option, a white Kia Sedona. Went through most of the purchasing process again, and decided to give them a call to check on the pick-up/delivery dates. Turns out, this car was in New Jersey and would take over a week to get to Texas.

(( The whole delivery vs. pick-up breakdown below ))

So … onto the 3rd option. The Dark Grey Kia Sedona. Again this one wasn’t our top pick, but was a close call with the other 2. Once we identified this one, I called them again and they said it’d be ready to rock in the next two days.

Talking on the phone:

I was impressed with the couple of interactions I had with the Carvana Customer Advocates on the phone. Longest I ever had to wait was 8 minutes, but usually the wait time was close to a minute or two.

They were quick and efficient, could reserve a car for you up to like 48 hours, and do pretty much anything. I would definitely feel comfortable calling them with any questions.

Getting the car:

Since there isn’t a Carvana location in Kansas, and the closest Carvana “vending machine” is in Texas, I thought getting the car might be an issue.

The cost for delivery to us in Wichita, KS was $599. That meant they would have a 3rd party deliver the car to us, which in my mind would short out the “Carvana experience”. I was ready to fly out to Texas to pick up the car from the vending machine. When I called to talk with a Customer Advocate, he said there was actually another option….

Carvana has recently expanded to the Oklahoma City market. They don’t have a vending machine yet, but they do deliver within 100 miles of OKC for free. We are 160 miles from OKC. The Customer Advocate said we could set up a spot to meet right at the KS/OK border, about an hour from us. We drove an hour, met the guy, and took it for a test drive.

The whole experience was just freaking awesome. No salesman, no greasy palms, no beefs. Great customer service, great deal on the car, great experience.

I highly recommend Carvana, and I will never buy from a dealership again.



  • Toby K.

*Turns out, Carvana doesn’t offer referral codes for customers in Kansas. So I *don’t* have any referral codes for you guys… so sorry. They also said this program is being dissolved at the end of 2017. Best of luck finding a code!