Knowledge-Sharing with Design Docs

Shift’s engineering team has always had an informal process around design docs for new systems, but the process has varied from team to team and engineer to engineer. We’ve had the assumption that if a project or feature is expected to take more than a week or involve more than one engineer, it probably makes sense to document your design in advance so you can get feedback.

A few engineers from our infrastructure team recently formalized the process to add some consistency with the main goal of streamlining the process–we want the term “design doc” to mean the same thing to everyone and to prevent engineers from feeling like they have to reinvent the wheel every time. We also think design docs can be used for mentorship because they allow junior engineers to get feedback faster than through code reviews.

Continue reading “Knowledge-Sharing with Design Docs”

8 Reasons Shift is the Simplest, Fairest Way to Buy a Used Car

From the beginning, we’ve believed that car buying should be simple and fair. In April, we wrote about our recent updates to Shift and how we’ve taken steps towards that goal.

Progress has continued in the months since, and while we aren’t anywhere close to done, I just wanted to take a step back and make 8 arguments for why we think that’s true: Continue reading “8 Reasons Shift is the Simplest, Fairest Way to Buy a Used Car”

Best Road Trips in California

For vacations in most states, you drive to the amusement. But in the Golden State, the drive is the amusement. Blessed with incredible terrain and scenic highways, it’s a must-visit destination for any road tripper. We’ve rounded up some of the best road trips in California.

Best Road Trip in California #1: Highway 1

If you’re coming to Northern California from out of town and only have a couple days on the road, this is a no-brainer. Classic California scenes of windy highways with unadulterated ocean views make this a breathtaking drive that you won’t regret taking. The only dilemma: if you’re starting from the San Francisco Bay Area, do you go south towards Big Sur or north towards Bodega Bay? With vistas like these, you won’t go wrong either way, making it our top pick for the best road trip in California.

PRO TIP:

  • Driving south, you’ll be on the right side of the road practically next to the water, so have the passengers get the camera ready.
  • Heavy winter rains have caused landslides, knocking out significant portions of Highway 1, so plan ahead.
Best Road Trip in California #2: Skyline Drive

Between Woodside and Los Gatos, highway 35 hugs the crest of the Santa Cruz mountains and becomes a curvy tree-lined road fit for great weekend drives. A stone’s throw away from the city, you can head out in the morning, grab lunch at Alice’s (which becomes a de-facto car and motorcycle show on weekends), and be home in time for dinner all in the same day. Or better yet, continue down to Big Basin and drive through the old growth redwood forest that towers above.

PRO TIP: On a clear day, pull off at the Windy Hill Open Space Preserve and climb to the nearby summit of the eponymous hill for an amazing 360 panorama. From one spot, you’ll catch peeks of San Jose to the south, San Francisco to the north, Oakland to the east, and the Pacific Ocean to the west.


Best Road Trip in California #3: Highway 395

The Eastern Sierras are seriously beautiful. Drive south from Lake Tahoe (or cut through Yosemite to see America’s most jaw dropping National Park) and watch the snow-capped Sierras on your right flatten out into the vast desert to your left. The proximity to nature’s many playgrounds here make this one of the best road trips in California.

PRO TIP: For a surprisingly great rest stop, check out the Eastern Sierra Interagency Visitor Center and have a picnic in the shadow of Mt. Whitney, the tallest mountain in the lower 48.

Sometimes you just wonder where does this road end?

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Best Romantic Weekend Getaways in California

Best Road Trip in California #4: Lassen to Shasta: Highway 44

It’s a long drive from San Francisco, but those traveling this far north will be rewarded with lush pine forests and occasional views of Mount Shasta in the distance. Head east from Redding and snake your way towards the Lassen National Forest area for great camping among the nearby natural wonders.

Some fog, some gloom, some lens flare..#lassenvolcanicnationalpark

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Best Road Trip in California #5: Ebbets Pass

While Lake Tahoe itself is beautiful, driving around the area is too traffic-laden to achieve the open road feeling you’re reading this for. If you’re looking for a great alpine drive, the better bet is to head south to highway 4 to Ebbet’s Pass, one of the most scenic routes in the mid-state national forests.

#fineart #stitchedpano #nikond810 #bearvalley #donnerpass

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Best Road Trip in California #6: Gold country: Highway 49

Put the old-world charm of gold country at your fingertips and take a couple of days to explore the foothill towns between Sonora and Auburn. Wineries and other attractions abound in the region, resulting in a choose-your-own-adventure that’ll leave you wishing for more vacation days.

Merced River-Bagby Bridge Hwy 49, Mariposa County, California #mercedriver #mariposa #bridge #highway49

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Honorable mention: I-280

This one very nearly made the cut as one of the best road trips in California. Whereas the 101 is a pothole-strewn stroke inducer, the Junipero Serra freeway is a gem of an interstate, with 22 miles of it designated state scenic highway. Connecting San Jose, Silicon Valley, and San Francisco, this traffic corridor is one you’d go out of your way to take to work. Six miles away, the 101 runs parallel to the 280, but in terms of drive quality, they’re worlds apart.

Drive by the Crystal Springs Reservoir, watch the fog roll over the Santa Cruz mountains, and marvel at the fact that, yes, you are in fact on an eight lane interstate. The best commute in the world? Tough to say, but certainly not the worst.

On #I280. My way of commuting everyday. Beautiful view all the way.

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Dishonorable mention: 17-Mile Drive

Yes, it’s a nice drive, but definitely not one of the best road trips in California (in our opinion). Why pay the $10 Pebble Beach toll to drive a short 30 minutes of the California coast when you can do it for free north and south of the area? If you’re only in this area and in a rush, it’s a good idea. Otherwise, save the money and put it towards post-drive drinks in Carmel-By-The-Sea.

One tree to rule them all

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Interactive Condition Report Now Available on All Vehicle Detail Pages

At Shift, we want a car’s detail page to be a virtual window into its heart and soul. To do that, we need to first give you all the information that’ll help you decide whether to schedule a test drive.

That’s why we just made a few changes to Shift’s vehicle detail pages that’ll make it easier for you to preview the condition of any car.

See the new vehicle detail page > Continue reading “Interactive Condition Report Now Available on All Vehicle Detail Pages”

Filter Cars by Your Favorite Feature

“I’ll only consider a car if it has _______.”

This is something our Shift Advisors frequently hear from prospective buyers. Not only that, the features tend to be the same ones: auxiliary inputs, leather seats, backup cameras, and other creature comforts that can really make the difference for some drivers. Continue reading “Filter Cars by Your Favorite Feature”

How Does Carfax Work?

When it comes to a car’s condition, people often mention the Carfax report. So just how does Carfax work?  A Carfax report is your window into a car’s past. Like a private eye, it gleans data from insurance companies, DMVs, and even the police to tell you about a car’s background.

In the most extreme cases, it can save you from buying a lemon. That’s why we include a full free Carfax report for every car we list on Shift so customers know exactly what they’re getting (and what they’re not).

How does Carfax actually work?

A Carfax report is essentially a data snapshot of a number of different available data records. It gathers information from police departments, insurance companies, DMVs, and auction houses to piece together a history on nearly every car out there. Their data-gathering team in Virginia adds about 3.5 million records a day, with a compiled total of about 15 billion records.

How does Carfax help in buying a used car?

Big Lebowski car impoundThe records included in a Carfax report tell you things you wouldn’t know by just going for a test drive or having a mechanic inspect the car (things you should also do, by the way). A Carfax report is a little like a crystal ball that can give you a picture of a car’s past, such as:

  • Odometer readings and repair history
  • Number of past owners
  • Any accidents reported by DMVs, insurance companies, or police departments
  • Whether the car’s a lemon or been salvaged or junked
  • Whether a car was ever used as a fleet vehicle, autos used by businesses and often subject to lots of abuse
  • Lien and repossession history
  • Emission inspection statuses
  • Manufacturer recalls and buybacks

All of this info lets you avoid getting scammed and helps you make a more informed decision about the car you’re about to buy.

Where does all that data come from?

Carfax must have an army of data crawlers trolling the internet because the company culls data from about 92,000 sources—everything from motor vehicle agencies, to many police and fire departments, collision repair facilities, and auto auctions (Shift uploads all of our diagnostic and repair data to Carfax, too!)

Here’s their list of all of the sources:

  • Fire departments
  • Manufacturers
  • Law enforcement agencies U.S. motor vehicle agencies
  • Canadian provincial motor vehicle agencies
  • Auto auctions and salvage auctions
  • Collision repair facilities
  • Service/maintenance facilities
  • Insurance companies
  • Automotive recyclers
  • Rental/fleet vehicle companies
  • State inspection stations
  • Extended warranty companies
  • Car dealerships Import/export companies

How much does Carfax cost?

Carfax's Carfox
Carfox: easily our favorite mascot in the car space

Carfax has a three-tiered pricing model. If you’re going to test drive more than one car, and you probably will, you might want to get the second option, which provides five reports.

  • MyCarfax: A free app that includes provides info on maintenance and recalls for vehicles
    , as well as estimate repair costs and help finding local repair services. Doesn’t include Vehicle History Reports.
  • 1 Carfax Report: $39.99
  • 5 Reports:  $59.99 (valid for 60 days)
  • Unlimited Reports for 60 days: $69.99 gets you unlimited by searching by license plate
  • Shift: Free. Zip. Zilch.

At the end of the day, the Carfax report is one of the most important pieces of documentation you can get on a used car, so be sure to get one when you go shopping.