Carvana vs. Dealer: Why the Dealership Experience is Better

Buying a car can be a scary proposition for some; but buying a car online, sight unseen, can be much scarier. Is the convenience worth it? We don’t think so. Here are a few reasons why buying a car at a local dealership may be better than going through an online car dealer like Carvana.

Car Delivery


Although you can view online pictures of the vehicle, you aren’t able to touch, hear, or smell it prior to forking over your cash. That means you’re paying to inspect and take a test drive. This is by far the biggest reason why local car dealers win in the “Carvana vs. dealership” debate.

Cigarette Smoke

Purchasing from Carvana means you’re rolling the past-cigarette-smoker dice. Zero of their vehicles have “previous owner is non-smoker” checkboxes marked because there are no “previous owner is non-smoker” checkboxes.

Choose a dealer, and you’ll instantly know, upon opening its doors, if the vehicle was owned by a cigarette smoker. Next.

“Road Rash” Damage

Cars sold online and delivered to your home may not have all instances of cosmetic damage noted. Usually, inspectors at online dealerships don’t make note of any small scratches, dents, or stains that would pass a certified inspection. And, as mentioned by some customers online, Carvana doesn’t disclose details about “road rash damage,” or damage beneath the center of the wheels.

Incorrect Mileage

In some instances, mileage on vehicles purchased on the internet will be inaccurate once you slide into its driver’s seat. This is because vehicles that are returned to Carvana may be put back up for sale—without updating odometer readings, among other details. You’d only know this if you’d inspected and test-drove the car in advance.

Mechanical Issues

You may receive a great used car from an online dealer; you may also receive one with various mechanical problems that weren’t disclosed prior to the sale. The importance of a multipoint inspection performed by a trusted and experienced mechanic or service technician cannot be understated. If you purchase a car online, be sure to have a pre-purchase inspection scheduled.

Certified Warranty Factor

Carvana used cars, including their certified pre-owned vehicles, are backed by a 100-day limited warranty in addition to any standard manufacturer warranty. After 100 days (or once you’ve passed the mileage restriction), all vehicle problems are strictly on you, unless you purchased an extended protection plan.

When you purchase a certified pre-owned vehicle from a reputable used car dealer, you’re receiving the full CPO warranty as provided by the vehicle manufacturer—and that’s in addition to any remainder New Vehicle coverage. If you purchase a certified used Hyundai, for instance, it’ll come covered by their 10-year/100,000-mile CPO Powertrain Limited Warranty. This added peace of mind can’t be purchased from an online car dealer.

Service After the Sale

Dealers definitely have an edge when it comes to auto service. Because dealerships operate in-house service centers, they’re able to offer more convenient post-sale care. When problems arise—and they will eventually, because cars are machines—the relationship you have with your dealership and repair shop will pay dividends. There’s nothing better than finding a reliable, honest mechanic to work on your vehicle, and scheduling a dealership service appointment is always more convenient.

No Haggle Isn’t Always Best

The no-haggle aspect may appeal to some buyers, but it isn’t always best. Agreeing on a price at a dealership potentially allows you to get a better deal on a comparable used vehicle that you found online. You can sometimes even negotiate a sticker price down to match the online price.

Old-School Relationships

When you choose a local dealership near you, you’re opting for a relationship—you know, that one-on-one bond you get with a real human being. Relationships inspire confidence, and handshakes are worth far more than you’d think when making a significant purchase.

Delivery & Return Hiccups

If you must return your vehicle to Carvana, you may have several hoops through which to jump—and jump you must. If you live outside of their delivery area, you may need to wait two-plus weeks for a new driver to pick up your vehicle. Returns aren’t credited until after you return your vehicle, and that credit may take up to five days. Essentially, you may be waiting up to three weeks to fully return the vehicle and get a refund.

Issues with delivery are frequent complaints amongst Carvana customers. In some cases, buyers won’t be notified about delays until the day delivery is scheduled—and each delayed delivery will prompt you to sign even more paperwork. If you chose a dealership, you’d have driven right off the car lot with a new-to-you vehicle. Better yet, some local car dealerships even offer vehicle delivery!

McCarthy Free Delivery

Anything You Can Do, We Can Do Better.

At McCarthy, our Kansas City car dealers want nothing more than to offer convenience to our customers. That’s why we’re now offering free delivery of all new or used vehicles purchased at any of our dealerships. If you live within 100 miles of our store, delivery is included with your purchase; if you live 100-300 miles away, a small fee will be added to deliver the vehicle. For additional details, please contact your McCarthy dealer.