Clark Howard: The future of car buying is online

ATLANTA — Channel 2 Consumer Adviser Clark Howard believes the future of car buying is online.

According to a recent study by Accenture, one in six people have already bought a car online.

Some companies take the process a step further by delivering the vehicle you buy to your home for free.

Alisa Henderson found herself scrambling for transportation after her car was totaled in an accident. After multiple unsuccessful trips to a dealership located miles away, Henderson turned to CarMax’s online store.

“You sit on your couch and you can look through a bunch of cars,” Henderson said.

She said the process was smooth from start to finish.

“They come in this truck. They print all the paperwork right there. They go through the steps of each thing I'm signing. I sign all the paperwork and then they give me the keys to my car,” Henderson said.

Carvana also offers the service.

If you decide you don’t like the car, you’re able to return it for a full refund within seven days. CarMax offers a test drive option, as well.


Stephen Smith works for CarMax.

He told Howard that buying a car this way makes sense for people in every demographic.

“We have options for customers who want to do it all online and have it brought to them. And, of course, we have our store base,” Smith said. “It’s hard to wrangle three kids and go into a dealership for an hour or two. So, this is attractive for a wide range of people.”

Jamaica Garris, who works for Carvana, said that, traditionally, people don’t think of buying a car as fun. Her company aims to change that.

“We target the millennials. They're already doing everything else online, so buying a car for them is not a big stretch,” Garris said.

Garris said it's just as convenient for an older customer who may have mobility issues and can't move around a big car lot.

Both companies are haggle-free. The price you see online is the price you pay.

CarMax boasts an inventory of 55,000 vehicles nationwide. Carvana’s selection is 15,000.

Howard said buying a car this way is for you if you view a vehicle only as a means of transportation.

“If you love cars, you still want to go to a dealership to see everything they’ve got,” Howard said.