Low Trade-In Offer From Tesla Leads To: The Carvana Experience

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Most of you know I recently purchased a Tesla Model Y to replace my trusty 2015 Nissan LEAF S. Ordering the Tesla was super easy. No dealer tricks. No running back and forth to see the manager. No dealer markups. No paint sealant, floor mats, wheel locks, LoJacks, or undercoating. No extended warranties or financing terms to wrestle over. You want the car? Here’s the price. Click here and we’ll build it for you. No hassle, no muss, no fuss. It’s the best way to buy a car ever!

Well, there was one thing I wasn’t too thrilled with — the trade-in process. Tesla offered me $6500 for my LEAF, which is in pretty good condition with only 36,000 miles on it. Shiny paint. 4 good tires. No dents. I thought Tesla’s offer was low, especially as I read about how the prices of used cars were skyrocketing. Frankly, electric cars are not high on most people’s wish list here in Florida. The local Nissan dealer lists NO new LEAFs in inventory. Their website does not even mention that Nissan still makes the LEAF. It’s weird down here in the land of Ron Death Sentence how cars with plugs are still treated like a novelty.

The local Volkswagen dealer will order an ID.4 for you, but Hyundai and Kia don’t sell their plug-in and battery electric cars in the Sunshine State. Except for Tesla, Florida is an EV desert. So the idea of finding a private buyer for the LEAF was not very appealing.

My wife’s niece had a Kia she wanted to get rid of. The local dealer lowballed her on her trade-in, so she got in touch with Carvana. Within 3 days, the car was gone and she got $3,000 more for it than the dealer was willing to pay her. Sweet! If it worked for her, I thought, maybe it would work for me?

Putting Carvana to the Test

carvana used car vending machine
Image courtesy Carvana.

So, I fired up my Chromebook, went to the Carvana website, and in less than 10 minutes had a firm offer for my LEAF of $10,382. The offer was good for 30 days. The timing on the Model Y was a little imprecise. First it was going to be October, then late December. Eventually, Tesla said my car would here the day before Thanksgiving. Then it got changed to the Sunday after turkey day.

I needed to coordinate with Carvana about when to finalize the deal. I didn’t want to be without a car for more than a day or two. They were great. Need to reschedule the pickup? No problem. Click here. Open a calendar. Pick a date. Select a time. And you’re done.

I had to upload a bunch of stuff online — front and back of the title, front and back of my license, picture of the VIN and the odometer — but that was no problem. I did a video walk-around with a Carvana representative on my phone. There were some forms that needed to be notarized, but in today’s digital world, that was all taken care of online as well.

At 11 o’clock Sunday morning, an agent from Carvana came to my condo, did a final walk-around of the car, had me sign some forms, put the keys to the LEAF in a lock box, and slapped a QR code on the windshield. All I had to do was go down to West Palm Beach a few hours later and drive my new Tesla home. A flatbed will come pick up the LEAF tomorrow. Today I got an email confirming the money for the car has already been transferred to my bank account.

One of the things I like about doing business with Tesla is everything is online and 100% hassle free. (I do feel they low-balled me on my trade-in offer, but no one’s perfect.) The Carvana experience was every bit as easy and drama free. If you have a good used car you are looking to sell, this may be the best way to dispose of it at a fair price.

I have bought and sold a lot of cars in my life, and done the “Will you take half what you’re asking for it?” dance with people more times than I care to remember. I have been threatened with a lawsuit by a buyer who claimed I knew the alternator was going to fail two weeks after he bought a car from me. Another disgruntled person was upset with me because a car I had just had inspected in my state failed inspection in her state. She wanted her money back — all one thousand dollars!

Dealing with Carvana couldn’t have been easier. (They sell cars, too.) I told them I was going to write an article about my experience and they were like, “What? This is how we treat everyone. It’s no big deal.” It was a big deal to me. It made the transition to my new Tesla super easy, and for that, I am very, very grateful.

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Steve Hanley

Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Florida or anywhere else The Force may lead him. He is proud to be "woke" and doesn't really give a damn why the glass broke. He believes passionately in what Socrates said 3000 years ago: "The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new."

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