Ranking Online Car Dealership Return Policies

Posted on by Defensive Driving | in Car Stuff

The idea of buying a car online, sight unseen, is something that has rapidly evolved over the past few years. Until recently, the idea of completing the process online and taking direct delivery was virtually unheard of, unless it was a luxury brand and a new vehicle. Over the last several years that has evolved considerably. It’s becoming increasingly common for people to take delivery of not only new vehicles, but also pre-owned vehicles.

Brands like Carmax, Carvana, Vroom and Shift are now present in many large cities. These brands aim to transform the entire car buying process to something you can do on your phone or computer. No negotiations. No haggling over extras. You shop, buy and pay – and then the car is delivered to you directly. This process isn’t for everyone. However, if you’re considering it, the return policy might be the most important part of the process.

Hopefully you never have to deal with it, but better to be prepared. What happens if there’s something wrong with the car, or you decide you can’t keep it? After all, you bought it without a test-drive. What happens next?

Return policies vary depending on who you bought it from [and are subject to change at any time]. These are the return policies as of October, 2022:

#1 – CarMax: 30 days (up to 1,500 miles)

CarMax has been around for 20+ years. Of the brands listed, CarMax is a bit different. They provide a simple, no-hassle, no-negotiation sales process. They do offer delivery services within a 60-mile radius of select stores, but this isn’t necessarily what they’re known for. CarMax is a nice halfway point for someone who doesn’t want to have to haggle, but also wants to be able to go for a test-drive.
Full return policy & limited warranty information here.

#2 – Carvana: 7 days (up to 400 miles)

Carvana is a turn-key digital car-buying experience. You might have seen their giant glass “car vending machines”. After you order your car online, you can select to either have it delivered directly to you, or to one of their vending machines where you’ll be able to pick up your car. You insert your token, and your car is brought down like with a regular vending machine. They’ve positioned themselves as “the future of car buying”, and in many ways it’s still a new concept. With that said, you need to move quickly upon delivery to ensure that you’re happy with your purchase. You should schedule delivery for a time when you’ll be able to adequately drive and test the vehicle.
Full return policy & limited warranty information here.

#3 – Vroom: 7 days (up to 250 miles)

Vroom is a fully digital car buying experience. The entire process is completed online and the car is shipped either directly to you, or a nearby approved location. Since they don’t have physical locations, the idea is that those savings are able to be passed to you, as the buyer of the vehicle. Vroom could seem intimidating for someone who is used to the traditional car-buying experience, but it makes sense as a concept.
Full return policy & limited warranty information here.

#4 – Shift: 7 days (up to 200 miles)

Shift is a newer entry to the online car buying scene. They promote themselves as making car buying and selling fun, fair and accessible to everyone. They offer both direct delivery or pick-up from one of their Shift locations. They recently announced a merger with CarLotz, which offers consignment options to buyers.
Full return policy & limited warranty information here.

The online car buying experience is a rapidly-changing industry.


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