Driveway: 5 Things To Know Before You Buy or Sell a Car Online

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If you’re shopping for a car online, money expert Clark Howard recommends checking out Driveway. The automotive shopping website allows you to buy new and used cars online or sell/trade your current car. 

“The most customer-friendly initiative since Tesla launched its way of buying a new car is now available at Driveway.com,” said Clark on a recent podcast.

This article will look at how Driveway works and what the process is for buying and selling cars through the site. I’ll also look at how you can finance through Driveway and give you the pros and cons of buying and selling cars there. 

Table of Contents:

Below, you’ll find more detailed information including how to get started on the site, how to buy or sell a car with Driveway and the pros and cons I found when using the wesbite.

How Does Driveway Work?

According to the company’s website, Driveway is an “online car retailer that puts you in complete control of every aspect of car ownership including buying, selling and servicing.” You can use Driveway to buy new or used cars, sell or trade in your current car or even get an oil change or similar service. You can also explore financing options through Driveway. 

The company itself is behind the scenes, says Clark.

“Driveway is owned by what was a sizable dealer group, and they accumulated funds to buy up dealers geographically across the country so that they can ultimately become a national platform for you to buy new cars in the same customer-friendly way that you buy used cars from CarMax or Carvana. This is huge!”

Driveway does work similarly to other popular online car dealerships such as CarMax and Carvana. The company owns its own inventory of vehicles across the country and offers to sell and deliver them for a straightforward, haggle-free price.  Once you’ve taken delivery of your car, Driveway says you’ll have seven days or 400 miles to return it for any reason.

If you’re selling or trading your car on Driveway, you can enter some basic information about it on the website. Then, you’ll get an instant offer that’s valid for seven days. If you accept the offer, you can choose to receive a check, bank transfer or trade-in credit toward the purchase of a Driveway vehicle. 

Buying a Car Through Driveway

If you’re looking to buy a new or used car, shopping for one on Driveway is easy. To begin, visit the website and click “Shop Used Cars” or “Shop New Cars.” From there, you’ll be able to search by make, model and more. You can also narrow your search results by several factors including price, features and appearance. 

search results for new cars on Driveway.com

Above, you can see the results I got when I clicked on “New Vehicles.” There were 12,841 new vehicles available for sale at the time of writing and 19,023 used cars. An inventory of this size gives you plenty of options to shop around, and Driveway’s website makes it easy to find what you’re looking for. 

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If you’re shopping for a new car, you’ll see the MSRP displayed below some vehicles. When I checked out the site, I saw the MSRP listed only where Driveway’s price was lower. For this reason, I recommend doing some outside research on the vehicle you’re thinking about buying from Driveway. You should know what it’s worth in order to make sure you’re getting a good deal.

If you’re looking for a used car, you’ll see an estimated monthly payment with $1,000 cash down. You’ll also see the price of the vehicle and how many miles are on it. In addition to the price that you see, there will also be additional fees including a plate fee, use tax, title certificate fee, registration fee, lien fee, doc fee, delivery fee and sales tax. 

You can click on a vehicle to see additional information and to begin the buying process. 

Vehicle details on Driveway.com

If you decide to buy a vehicle, you can click “Get Started” to create an account and fill out your payment and delivery information. You can finance, pay in full or lease select vehicles, enter the details of a trade-in if you have one and choose a payment method. Financing is available through Driveway’s partners.

You’ll be able to choose a delivery time and location during checkout. According to Driveway, if you have a trade-in, it will be picked up at the same time your new car is delivered. Then you’ll have seven days or 400 miles to return the car with no questions asked.

“If you buy from an online dealership, you should have the vehicle checked out by a mechanic of your choosing during the period of time that you have the right to return the vehicle for a full refund,” says Clark.

Driveway’s Financing Options

If you choose to buy a car from Driveway, you can pay in full, finance through your own credit union or bank or finance the purchase through Driveway. 

According to the website, you can apply for financing online in real time, view multiple offers and choose the right financing terms that work for your budget. The company partners with more than 25 different lenders. Unfortunately, although they’re convenient, online car-buying sites aren’t the best places to get a loan

“They’re not offering financing as your friend,” says Clark of car-buying websites. “They’re offering it because that’s how they make money. People are much better off to pre-qualify on their own at a credit union. If you’re not a member of a credit union, join one. The loan will be substantially cheaper.”

Know that all credit inquiries within a two-week window for a car purchase are counted as only one “hit” to your credit score. After you’ve talked to your credit union about a loan, you still have two weeks to check out Driveway’s financing offers. 

If you aren’t sure where to get started, you can use Driveway’s car payment calculator to get an idea of what your monthly payment or overall budget would be. 

Driveway's car payment calculator

You can enter the total cost of the vehicle, your credit score, loan term and down payment to estimate your monthly payment. You can also click on “Budget” to enter your desired monthly payment, credit score, loan term and down payment to see an estimate of what you can afford total.

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Selling a Car Through Driveway

If you’re interested in selling or trading your current car, Driveway may buy it from you. to begin, click the “Sell/Trade” tab on the website. 

Selling your car on Driveway.com

You’ll need to provide your license plate number, VIN or make and model first. You’ll also be able to select your car’s details including its color, exact mileage and additional features. Then, you can enter details about your car’s condition and your contact information in order to get an estimate. 

According to Driveway’s website, you’ll receive payment via check, bank transfer or trade-in credit towards a Driveway vehicle if you accept the offer. The offer is valid for seven days

Once you’ve got a quote from Driveway, be sure to get a quote from a few other online dealerships as well. 

“It’s always a good idea to shop with all of them [including Carvana, CarMax and Vroom] because it gives you a real baseline on your car,” says Clark. “When you get the seven-day price from any of the dot-coms, you’ve got a real marker.”

If you do find the best deal at Driveway, you can schedule a pickup time and place that works for you. According to the website, the Driveway “valet” will give your car a quick walk-through and test drive. You’ll need your keys, photo ID, title and vehicle registration to complete the sale. 

Final Thoughts: Pros and Cons

If you’re shopping for a new car or selling/trading your current car, Clark believes that Driveway is an online dealership worth checking out. 

“The reason that I’m doing this excited breathless thing about Driveway is the fact that they’re building a platform from the ground up to make car-buying clean for new cars,” says Clark. 

Instead of taking hours to buy a car at a traditional dealer, Driveway quickly lets you see the price of new cars, choose your financing options and complete your purchase online. The company also sells used cars, services cars and offers additional tools including a payment calculator, guides and tips. 

After checking out Driveway myself, here are a few of the major pros and cons that I found: 

Pros:Cons:
When you buy or sell a car with Driveway, you’re buying and selling directly to the company and not a third-party dealership. While Driveway offers a payment calculator and guides/tips section, you won’t find extensive research tools for determining a car’s worth or helping you to decide what you should buy.
Driveway offers in-house financing. While it’s still better to finance through a credit union, you can easily compare the financing offers from Driveway’s 25 partnering lenders online. I didn’t see any indication of high or low prices other than new cars that are available for lower than MSRP. This makes it harder to determine if you’re getting a good deal.
In addition to buying and selling cars on Driveway, you can also service your car from the website. That means you can have someone come pick it up, take it for an oil change or repair and even have a rental car dropped off in the meantime.If you buy a car online at Driveway, the car will be delivered directly to your door. Unfortunately, delivery fees can range up to $3190 depending on where you live and where the car is located. Cars delivered from Hawaii or Alaska have a set delivery fee of $1895.

Have you ever bought or sold a car on Driveway? Tell us about your experience in the comments below!

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