A couple of months ago my fiancée picked up a 2010 Toyota Prius from Carvana. At the time, she said it was the easiest car purchase she’s ever had. Now that the honeymoon is over and the car has acquired a few thousand miles, I want to revisit the Carvana buying experience and show you how things are going.
Carvana is popping up a lot in the news lately and it’s not always good. The company faces scrutiny over horribly long documents processing. Some Carvana customers have gone a year or longer without valid license plates or titles. And even if everything goes right, your driver may end up dropping off your car in the literal sense. Thankfully, the Carvana experience isn’t universally bad. But it also isn’t without its quirks.
My fiancée picked up her little black hybrid at the end of October. She chose Carvana because we found that car shopping at a regular dealership is worse than usual. True to the company’s promise buying from Carvana was easy. You can buy a car without even getting out of bed, then have it delivered straight to your door.
Her Prius arrived on a flatbed with a temporary license plate already fitted. The real plate arrived about two weeks later. She luckily did not experience those reported document processing issues.
The Prius itself is also neat. The car lived in Tennessee since new, until it was sold to Carvana, so its underbody is clean. On a warm-ish day it’ll score 50 mpg, but on a typically bitter cold Chicago winter day it gets 42 mpg. That makes it one of the most efficient cars in our fleet.
Now 3,000 miles in, there are some things that stick out. The biggest quirk has to be the split windows on the hatch. Seeing out of them is fine. The problem is the fact that there’s just one wiper.
On a snowy drive the lower window gets covered in grimy dirt and road salt, obscuring your view.
There’s also the buttons that make up the center console. They feel fine, but they don’t seem to wear well. The Park button is already peeling.
I also hate to say it because I actually think the car is cool, but it’s pretty dull to drive. And that’s fine, because the Prius isn’t about making you feel all warm and fuzzy with its exhaust note or your heart race with its performance. It’s designed to be a reliable car that always works. And it does that in spades.
We found that Carvana wasn’t entirely truthful about its condition. Turning on the rear window defroster kills the car’s radio reception. The front right headlight gets water in it.
And a 12V port still isn’t working. Here’s where Carvana has become a pain.
The company offers a seven-day return period and a 100-day warranty. She liked the car, so she decided not to return it. That meant using the warranty to fix those small issues. Unfortunately, Carvana’s warranty is administered by a third party company: SilverRock.
SilverRock will only pay for repairs if you take the car to service centers of its choice. For us, that was a local Pep Boys or a small shop. Both said that they will not touch the Prius for anything. SilverRock says that we can take the car to a Toyota dealer, pay up front for repairs, then they’d merely “consider” to reimburse us.
It’s baffling to me why the dealership for the car you own is not already an authorized center for SilverRock.
Yet, despite the warranty program not really being a warranty, my fiancée says that buying and owning the car from Carvana is still one of the best car buying experiences she’s ever had. She would definitely do it again, but maybe with outside financing.
Carvana definitely has a lot of problems and is unfortunately inconsistent. But when things are working well, the Carvana experience can actually be pretty good.