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Shift Used Cars: How It Works, Pricing, Locations and Alternatives

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In a time when you can purchase nearly anything you want online, it stands to reason car dealers would jump into the eCommerce industry.

Peer-to-peer car rental is already a booming industry, so they are simply following suit.

Online ordering makes the car buying process more accessible to people who might struggle to get to a car dealer, opening up a new revenue niche for car companies.

That’s where Shift used cars comes in.

But what is Shift and how does it work?

What is Shift?

Founded in 2013 by George Arison and Toby Rusell, Shift is a California-based used car dealer that operates fully online.

Shift has implemented an on-demand business model that allows each car buyer to order test drives, apply for financing, and arrange drop-off all from the comfort of their smartphone.

Not only can you purchase a car from Shift, but if you’re looking to get rid of your car, you can also sell or trade your vehicle to Shift.

They make the process just as simple as purchasing.

So, if you’re interested in learning how to find your next used car without leaving your couch, you’ve come to the right place.

How Does Shift Used Cars Work?

Shift makes finding a used car simple.

All you have to do is head over to the Shift website and start browsing.

Shop Online

When you go onto Shift’s website, you’ll find an easy way to browse their available vehicles.

They have thousands to choose from, so you won’t have to settle for the few hundred cars you might find at a used car lot.

You can also filter Shift’s vehicles based on any combination of criteria, from make and model to price to which vehicles have a test drive available.  

While you’re shopping, you can also look at your financing options.

You’ll be able to get pre-qualified quickly, find cars within your budget, and apply for financing once you’ve made your choice.

Test Drive at Home

When searching for a vehicle on Shift’s website, you can choose to view only those that are available for an at-home test drive.

For anyone who doesn’t have time or simply doesn’t care to visit a car dealership, having a vehicle delivered to their home for a test drive will make it much easier to find one you like.

Get a Car Shipped to Your Door

When you select a vehicle to test drive, you’ll also have the option to purchase on the spot.

The Shift representative will have all of the necessary paperwork on hand, so you can sign on the dotted line without setting foot off your property.

Where is Shift Available?

Shift’s headquarters are located in San Francisco, California.

Its primary market is on the West Coast of the United States.

Although it hopes to expand its market to a broader area, Shift currently serves San Francisco, San Diego, Los Angeles, San Jose, Sacramento, California, and Portland, Oregon.

Does Shift Inspect Cars?

One step Shift takes to ensure customer satisfaction is to put its vehicles through a 150-point inspection process.

This process ensures your car is in complete working order.

Shift’s technicians ensure that all components are accounted for and operating as they should and that the car you order is the car you receive.

Shift Inspection Process

Shift technicians take a good deal of time to inspect each vehicle that Shift plans to sell.

They go over service records, vehicle histories, mileage, and any information the previous owner may have provided.

Then, the technician will inspect the following areas to ensure they’re all in proper working order:

  • Engine
  • Transmission
  • Electrical components
  • Battery
  • Suspension
  • Cooling
  • Brakes

Shift will only put a car on their website after the technicians are satisfied that all areas are working as they should.

How Much is a Shift Used Cars Fee?

There are several added costs to buying with Shift.

First, shift charges a service fee on each of its vehicles.

In addition, you’ll have to pay any taxes or fees that your state or municipality might require.

In some cases, you’ll also have to pay a delivery fee.

Fees for Shift Used Cars

The Shift service fee is intended to offset operating expenses.

In addition, since Shift offers a significant convenience in the form of concierge services, the fee covers the added cost of those services.

The service fee covers the cost of the technology Shift uses to ensure the car buying process is smooth for its customers.

It also covers the cost of the technicians who perform Shift’s 150-point inspections.

Shift also charges a delivery fee on most purchases.

The cost will depend on where you live, but you’ll see it on the vehicle’s detail page.

How Can You Contact Shift?

Shift has a few contact options you can try if you need to get in touch with someone in customer service.

You can email them at one of the following addresses:

Shift also has three separate customer service numbers you can reach out to between 8:00 am and 7:00 pm Pacific time:

  • Buying 1(855) 744-3873
  • Selling or Trading 1(415) 275-6947
  • Customer support 1(855) 744-1445

Can You Sell Your Car to Shift?

Shift provides sales services for customers who want to sell or trade their car.

It’s a relatively simple process that only takes a few minutes to set up.

All you’ll need to do is submit some vehicle and personal information to get the ball rolling.

Step by Step Instructions

1. Navigate to Shift’s “Sell My Car” page and enter your basic vehicle information.

2. Provide vehicle history and information.

2. Select “Get my estimate” and wait for the system to return results.

3. Either schedule an inspection with a technician or choose to save your estimate for later.

4. Complete your appraisal either at your home or at a Shift location.

5. Decide whether you want to accept the offer.

6. Fill out the necessary paperwork if you choose to sell, then await payment via bank transfer.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you still have questions about how Shift works?

Here’s a bit more information if you’re still deciding whether to do business with Shift.

Can You Trade in a Car With Shift?

Shift offers trade-in services that work similarly to its selling services.

Simply select the trade-in option when browsing for a vehicle, and you can receive an estimate quickly.

You’ll go through the same appraisal process as someone would with selling a car, then you can apply your offer to the cost of a new vehicle.

Do You Get a Bonus for Referring Someone to Shift Used Cars?

One of the other benefits of using Shift is its referral system.

Shift offers a referral bonus for customers who recommend Shift’s services.

If the person you recommend Shift to chooses to buy a car from Shift, you’ll both receive a $100 bonus.

Shift Used Cars Comparisons

Shift isn’t the only online used car retailer you can visit if you’re in the market for a used vehicle.

There are several other options.

Its three largest competitors are Carvana, Driveway, and CarGurus.

Shift vs. Carvana

One of the main features of both Shift and Carvana is that they’ll deliver your new vehicle or pick up your trade, so you won’t have to leave your home.

However, the difference between the two is that if you’re selling your car, Carvana will require you to pay a fee if your home is more than 100 miles from the closest drop-off location.

Carvana’s selection is also much more extensive than Shift’s.

Their website claims to offer upwards of 60,000 vehicles to choose from, depending on your area, whereas Shift only has approximately 4,000.

In addition, Carvana serves the continental US, compared to Shift’s relatively small service area on the West Coast.

Both companies will deliver your vehicle to your home, but Carvana only offers limited free delivery options.

Other delivery fees can range from $190-$590.

Shift’s test drives are free, although, for most delivery purchases, they’ll charge a fee.

The fee might vary from place to place, so you’ll need to confirm how much Shift will charge when you’re ordering your car.

Shift vs. Driveway

Driveway offers buyers a wide selection of new and certified cars.

Its selection is more extensive than Shift’s but significantly smaller than Carvana’s.

Still, it’s a good option for online car buying because it offers a variety of services.

Not only can you buy, trade, or sell a vehicle using Driveway, but you can schedule service, too.

Like Shift and Carvana, though, you can get pre-qualified for financing through Driveway, making it a one-stop shop for buying a car.

They’ll deliver your new vehicle right to your doorstep.

Or, if you want to sell your car to Driveway, they’ll come pick it up.

Shift vs. CarGurus

CarGurus is an online car marketplace similar to Shift.

It offers car buyers the opportunity to search for a used or new car online and deliver it to their home.

However, unlike Shift, CarGurus doesn’t offer free test drives.

One thing that makes CarGurus useful is that you can sign up for price drop notifications.

So, if the car you like is a bit out of your price range, simply set up a notification, and CarGurus will let you know when the price drops.

One of the main downsides to CarGurus is that vehicle history reports aren’t free.

If you want to keep a detailed history of your vehicle with your car, you’ll have to fork over some cash for it.

In addition, delivery fees can get quite steep if you’re ordering from a dealer that’s far away.

Are Shift Used Cars Worth It?

Although it’s one of the better online car dealerships available, Shift is like any other online business.

It has its own list of pros and cons that you should consider when deciding whether to do business with them.

Pros of Using Shift Used Cars

  • Free test drive at your home
  • You can get approved on the website
  • They’ll deliver your vehicle to your home
  • Everything can be done from your cell phone

Cons of Using Shift Used Cars

  • Not a very large selection compared to other companies
  • Service area is only in California and Oregon

Final Thoughts

If you’ve been considering selling or trading in your car, Shift might be a great first place to check.

It makes the car selling and trading process simple.

It’s also perfect if you’re searching for a new vehicle and don’t have the time or inclination to hop from one dealership to the next test-driving cars.

So, if you’re ready for a new-to-you vehicle, check out Shift’s selection right away.

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