While many people like to use large nationwide chains like Carvana to buy and sell their used cars, others prefer a more localized experience. Residents of Houston and the surrounding area, including Stafford and Sugar Land will likely be familiar with one such local platform: Texas Direct Auto.
Today, we’re taking a look at this Texas-based platform, how it works, what it offers buyers and why people should consider this platform over others. Let’s get started with some background on the platform itself.
What is Texas Direct Auto?
Texas Direct Auto was founded in 2002 in Houston, Texas, but was later acquired by New York City-based e-commerce and online automotive sales giant Vroom. Despite being acquired by this huge brand, Texas Direct Auto continues to operate under its own brand while gaining some pretty big benefits of being part of a larger corporate group (see below for more details).
Texas Direct Auto currently offers options for buying and selling used cars, operating its web-based platform at texasdirectauto.com, and also a brick-and-mortar “Super Center,” which is open from Monday to Saturday from 10:00am to 7:00pm. The company is also involved in buying cars from individual sellers across the contiguous US states, which we will cover in more detail further below.
The company operates as an independent brand, but with the great array of resources that come from its corporate parent, Vroom. They offer a large range of vehicles, including trucks, sedans, SUVs, coupes, wagons, convertibles, hatchbacks and minivans.
How Does Texas Direct Auto Work?
If you’re looking to buy from Texas Direct Auto, all you have to do is either visit the Super Center to look at available stock, or browse the online selection. Most customers use the latter in these days of online convenience. The website offers a simple buyers’ search function where you can search according to make, model, body style or even the VIN number if you have it.
Let’s say you’re doing a search for a make and model like a Ford Mustang, for example. You can simply type in Ford Mustang to the search bar and look up all the listings, but there will likely be several hundred hits. Once on the search landing page, you can quickly refine your search by minimum and maximum model year, mileage, price, monthly payment and more.
The search filters are actually quite extensive, allowing you to add or remove features, fuel and transmission type, drivetrain, engine, passenger capacity...it’s easy to tailor a search to exactly what you want to find. If you want to start over, you can hit “Clear All” and recalibrate your search, including changing the make and model.
What Happens When You Select a Listing?
When you spot a listing you like, you can click directly on it and open up a much more detailed view of that vehicle. There are a number of additional features that open up that really help to set Texas Direct Auto apart, too. First, each listing comes with a number of high-resolution photographs that give you a really clear look at all angles of the vehicle.
The main information visible immediately upon opening the listing as the model year, model name, trim level, mileage, price, and estimated monthly payment.
Scroll down the page and you’ll come to the “Vehicle Insights” section where you can get some closer analysis on how the price compares to similar vehicles. It tells you:
- Whether the vehicle was reduced recently or not and whether it’s more or less than the average price for another car of the same make, model and year in your area.
- The physical condition and whether the current mileage counts as low or high. It will indicate the cost of similar vehicles, be it higher or lower, and tell you if it is a “Great Deal,” a “Good Deal,” a “Fair Price” or “Above Market.”
- The popularity of the color you’ve chosen, and where it places among other colors. For instance, to choose a black Ford Mustang, it tells you that black is “one of the top 3 Ford Mustang colors.”
These insights are useful for gauging whether or not the vehicle you’re looking at is priced well, whether the mileage means that you should expect greater wear and tear, and whether or not you’re getting a color that other buyers of this car have liked. For the final option, some might prefer a car with a less-popular color so that it stands out in a sea of grey, silver, black and white.
Further down the page you come to “Vehicle Details” which includes a list of all the features, with some highlighted features at the top which are selected based on what customers typically look for in this particular model. You can also access details on the car’s exterior, its engine, performance, and the warranty that’s offered. Thanks to Vroom, any vehicle purchased from Texas Direct Auto comes with a 90-day or 6,000 mile limited warranty, with the option to extend for up to 10 years or 120,000 miles with 24-hour roadside assistance.
If you find listings that you like, you can save them into your personal list, or you can send a message to the company and make further inquiries about any vehicle in which you’re interested. Delivery is offered within 40 miles of the Super Center, and they also offer curbside pickup.
Can You Sell Vehicles on Texas Direct Auto?
Yes, there is a selling/trading feature on the site as well. You can sell by first entering either the VIN or the license plate and state where the car is currently registered. With that info, you can click on the “What’s My Car Worth” button and get an instant quote for your vehicle.
If you agree to the quote, you can schedule a pickup time and location and someone from Vroom will be sent to collect it and pay you. Collection is free anywhere in the continental US --- IE not Alaska, Hawaii or overseas territories --- payment is made immediately upon receipt of the vehicle.
Exact calculations on price are a company secret, but their official line is that they are based on current market value and condition of your car, which is typical for this kind of instant “sell my car” service. Payment is made via electronic ACH payment, or via check. If you choose a check, it will be mailed within 3 business days and you’ll get tracking information via email.
What are the Benefits of Using Texas Direct Auto?
1. Corporate Resources - Including Financing
The huge resources of Vroom help a local company like this to operate in the same way as a nationwide chain while retaining its local brand, team and management flavor. On top of that, the company is able to offer online financing options, something that many smaller localized firms wouldn’t be able to do.
It allows buyers to get pre-qualified for financing before they start shopping, which improves the overall experience since buyers know exactly what they can buy before they get started. These huge resources make things easier for customers.
2. Comprehensive Listing Info
Among the many car buying platforms, the information is both detailed and yet also easy to read and understand. Some may find it quite spread out across a page you have to scroll through, but the added insights, details and key statistics are well organized and easy to find. This makes it a good platform for buyers of all ages and technical experience with online car shopping.
3. Direct Sales Available
Many sites offer listing aggregates, but no option for direct sales, which means you have to eventually connect with third-party sites once you find listings in which you’re interested. With TDA, you don’t have to worry about that since all the listings are vehicles available or soon to be available via TDA. You can communicate with sales professionals directly through the website.
4. Buy and Sell in One Place
TDA’s platform allows users to both buy and sell/trade their vehicles all in one place. That’s a huge advantage for anyone looking for the one-stop shop experience. It means not having to deal with multiple dealerships or buyers. It also adds tremendous speed and efficiency to the selling and the financing process.
5. Find Models that are Available Now
Finally, one great addition for convenience is that you can filter your search results when buying cars that are available right now at the Texas Direct Auto Super Center. This is indicated in the menu as “Available at TDA.” Check that box in your search filters and you’ll see cars that are in-stock now. That’s handy because it can be disappointing to suddenly discover that a potentially ideal vehicle isn’t available yet.
Are There Drawbacks?
One big drawback with TDA is arguably the lack of a smartphone/tablet app for iOS or Android. Although corporate parent Vroom does have an app, if you wanted to stick with TDA, there’s no app for that platform, so you have to browse using their website, which can be a little less convenient on a smaller smartphone screen.