Sell to Carvana: My Honest Review

September 16, 2020
Written by: Zach Shefska
Categories: Used Cars

Updated: 11/5/2020

It goes without saying that buying a car is a painful process. What about selling a car? When it comes time to say goodbye to your current set of wheels you have plenty of options; sell to Carvana, sell to CarMax, sell to a private party. The list goes on and on.

Recently, I went through the process of selling my 2017 Volvo S90 to Carvana, and the process was unlike any other car dealership experience I have ever had before. (I mean that in a good way). Going through the “sell to Carvana” process was simple, smooth, and financially, the right choice for me.

We documented the process on our YouTube channel (the video above), and I wanted to go in more detail about the process; what went well, how it works, and more. If you’ve been reading Carvana reviews online, and have been considering selling your car to them, this guide is definitely for you. Let’s dive in!

How much does Carvana pay?

Carvana pays top dollar for their used cars. Why? Because they’re a HUGE publicly traded company that needs to impress investors with constant growth. The only way they can grow is to sell more cars, and the only way they can sell more cars is to buy more inventory. Because of this, Carvana is willing to pay top dollar for used cars.

Obviously Carvana (and all the other digital retailers) buy inventory from wholesale auctions, however, when you buy a car from the auction there are a lot of associated fees (buyers fees, transportation, and more). Because of this, companies like Carvana are happy to pay a premium to people like you and me because they don’t have to worry about all of the other costs associated with buying an auction car.

If you’re thinking “should I sell my car to Carvana to get the most amount of money,” the answer is probably yes.

Why not CarMax or Vroom?

It’s simple … Carvana made the highest offer for my Volvo S90! Your mileage may vary (pun intended), and I recommend you get offers from Carvana, Vroom, Shift, and CarMax before deciding where to sell your car. It was very interesting, after we posted our video on YouTube we received a lot of comments from people that told us they received higher offers for their cars from CarMax, Vroom, and AutoLenders (a New Jersey specific company).

Some commenters even shared stories about selling their cars privately and getting thousands of dollars more than what Carvana offered.

What does all this mean?

If you’re looking for the highest offer possible, you’ll need to do some work to get quotes from each of the various companies (Carvana, Vroom, CarMax), as well as test the waters of selling privately. Keep in mind that selling privately requires a lot more work, and part of the benefit of selling to Carvana (or a similar company) is to avoid all that hassle and headache.

Did Carvana change the offer when you got there?

No! It’s important to understand that your Carvana offer is good for seven days and one thousand miles. I took advantage of both of those parameters when I sold my car to Carvana. I actually sold my car to Carvana five days after my offer “expired,” but this was okay because their online scheduling tool only had availability at that time. That was one of the surprising aspects of my sell to Carvana experience, they were so incredibly flexible.

We interviewed the Senior Director of Sell To Carvana on the Auto Insider Podcast: Should You Sell Your Car to Carvana, Automotive Refinance, and More, With Nicholas Hinrichsen

You communicate via text message with your rep and they’re very accommodating to any changes you need to make. For example, I was originally scheduled to have my car picked up by Carvana in New Jersey, I then realized it would be advantageous for me to drive the car back to Maryland (to move some things), and when I asked Carvana if the offer would change if I drove back to Maryland their answer was simple, “as long as the odometer is within 1,000 miles of the photo you took, you’ll be fine.”

Not only did Carvana not change their offer, they were very accommodating to all of the changes I made during the process.

How long does the Sell to Carvana offer last?

When you sell to Carvana your offer is good for 7 days or 1,000 miles. This is the most generous policy that I am aware of. CarMax offers a 7 day, 500 mile policy, while Vroom offers a 2 day and 250 mile policy.

How long does it take to Sell to Carvana?

Selling a car to Carvana takes less than an hour (and that includes the work you need to do online before you drop your car off, or they pick it up from you). Filling out the online form is quick and easy. Dropping the vehicle off at Carvana takes no more than 20 minutes. Carvana even pays for your Uber/Lyft ride back to a location of your choice.

Did Carvana inspect the car?

Sort of, but not really. I was surprised at the fact that Carvana did not inspect my car when I dropped it off. I thought they would do a slightly more in depth inspection upon my arrival, but the reality was they didn’t.

Their staff person walked around my car with an iPad and took some photos, and that was about it.

Text messages you receive from Carvana repeatedly remind you that your car needs to be in running and driving condition, specifically the battery can’t be dead, nor can the tires be in non working condition. Aside from that, there’s no real inspection or requirements for what condition the vehicle needs to be in.

Thinking of buying a used car? You might enjoy this guide: Buying a Car on Craigslist? Here Are 4 Things You Need to Do First.

How do they handle negative equity?

If you owe more on your car than it is worth, you’ll be asked to get a bank check for the amount of the difference between their offer price and the amount remaining on your loan. You’ll upload an image of this check to Carvana and bring it with you when you ultimately sell the vehicle.

So there you have it. If you’re thinking about selling your car, this is what you need to know about the sell to Carvana experience. Let us know in the comments below where you prefer to sell your vehicles.

Should I sell my car to Carvana?

If you want the simplest selling experience, I would recommend you consider selling your car to Carvana. They pay top dollar, they make the process easy, and you get rid of a car without posting a single Craiglist ad. I think that’s a good deal.

It’s not just me saying it either. Google search “sell to Carvana reddit” and you’ll find dozens of threads from other people just like me who had an awesome experience selling their car to Carvana.

Not sure where to begin?

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53 Comments

  1. Paul Brobson

    Love the matching black shirts! Maybe you guys could figure out a ring collar vs. V-neck?

    Great video, very informative. Wondering what percentage of Carvana buyers actually have an inspection completed during the seven day exchange period? And, will Carvana reveal the reconditioning work they completed to the new buyer? If I was buying your Volvo – I would be very unhappy to learn about the dashboard issue.

    Reply
    • Zach Shefska

      Paul, thanks for the comment! That’s a great question, and I wish there was research on it … It is interesting to think what percentage of buyers get their new (to them) vehicle inspected during the return time period. Hopefully most!

      Reply
      • Sammy Fowler

        I ordered a car from Carvana, and after waiting nine days to get it I wouldn’t even let them get it off the truck. Online the car showed to have one hotspot, which essentially was a rock chip on the lower front of the car. The car was filthy, had tar and oil slung down the rocker panels. The right front wheel had been curved badly and had a chunk out of it, and they were nicks on the back bumper as well. The chrome around the grill was wrinkled and about to start peeling. Then I spent several hours texting with someone named Athena trying to get an actual human being to call me. When she did I went over the list of the things wrong with the car and then the woman said, now other than the hotspot on the front can you tell me what was wrong with the car? I wanted to start screaming where have you been? Were you even listening? I can’t believe what a horrible experience it was!I have never had a dealer misrepresent a car so badly. What a joke!

        Reply
        • Roger M.

          Your experience was not unique.
          Caravans makes money by selling junky cars for far more than they pay for them– far more than they are worth!
          Same goes for all the other newfangled used car hawkers.
          Ditto private sellers and dealerships.
          Used car? CAVEAT EMPTOR!

          Reply
          • Roger M.

            Thanks, Kindle tablet!
            It’s Carvana, not caravan! ?

        • Roger M.

          Hey, please don’t delete my comment.
          I’m trying to warn used car buyers about the multitude of problems with Carvana and all the other forms of used and new car buying.
          Are you in Carvana’s back pocket?

          Reply
    • Sarah

      Hello! Thanks for this video/ information! I am interested in selling my car to Carvana but unsure. The offer is so much higher than local dealership. Are there any fees that lower the original offer?

      Reply
    • Sue

      Did you get paid by direct deposit or get a check ? Concerned about getting my money

      Reply
      • Zach Shefska

        Sue, I owed Carvana money when I sold my car … That being said, I think they direct deposit.

        Reply
  2. Peter Zaremba

    I also sold to Carvana recently and had a similar experience. They paid about $1500 less that what I paid for the truck 2 years ago. The only issue I had was providing the proper payoff letter from the bank. They were very specific in what they wanted to see – had to be on bank letterhead with the full account # and other specific details. So make sure you get that from you bank ahead of time and the process should be pretty smooth.

    Reply
    • Zach Shefska

      Peter, thanks for this comment! Yes, with used car prices being as high as they are right now (and have been over the past few weeks), it’s been an incredible time to sell a vehicle (if you are able to). Thanks for sharing insights into your experience.

      Reply
    • Nina Dennis

      We had an offer from Caravana however they want us to send them the title. Sorry, I’ve “sold” my car to someone who never paid me for it before. I am not giving up the title without being paid first.

      Reply
  3. MT Glass

    Yup great experience with them. I had a 2020 corolla that was not being used since we both work remote and was bought as a commuter. Only had 2500 miles after a year. I paid about 20k. The dealership offered me 15k. Carvana gave me $19045. That was no brainer and took 5 minutes. They paid the balance off in a week. Couldn’t have been happier.

    Carvana will be great for people leasing I have a 2020 tacoma with 800 miles after a year. At the end of my lease probably have about 3k miles. I have the option now of Carvana and unlike selling it to an individual buyer there is no sale tax I could sell it now and actually be ahead according to their offer. I’m guessing there will be a lot of leases in the future worth more than the residual since no one is driving.

    Reply
    • Zach Shefska

      Thanks for this comment! The fact that selling to Carvana takes less than 60 minutes makes it a no-brainer for me as well. Glad you had a positive experience!

      Reply
    • Robin

      They offer more 3k grand for my car is it legit? Should i take the check or direct deposit?

      Reply
      • MARIA FE MARFORI

        Did you eventually sell to Carvana? What did you take, check or direct deposit?

        Reply
  4. Bill Anderson

    Thanks for the great video, I had a 2019 KIA Sedona with 11K on it and found out that I really didn’t need a van anymore. I checked with Carvana, Vroom, & Algo and Carvana gave me the highest price. Both Vroom and Algo gave me a better price when I told them Carvana’s price but I decided to stick with Carvana. When I called back the next day Carvana couldn’t find my quote in the system so they re-ran it and the price was higher than the day before. All of the associates I spoke with were very courteous and professional and the whole process from quote to pick up only took five days. A very positive experience but I would have never known about it until I saw your video’s, thanks for the great service. Also, I live in Ohio and Carvana had the best price, I told my daughter who lives in Virginia and she also had an extra car due to both her and her husband now working from home. She called the same companies and Algo gave her the best price and the fastest service.

    Reply
  5. Mark L Ignasiak

    This has to be a paid pump. It is just to wonderful. No one I know that has dealt with Carvana, either buying or trying to sell, had anything good to say about Carvana or the people they dealt with at Carvana. The only one happy customer was the one that returned the car because he was not at all happy with the condition of the vehicle.

    Reply
    • Zach Shefska

      Mark, I could only wish I got paid by Carvana! This was truly my experience. If it was a bad experience I would have shared that. Thanks for reading.

      Reply
  6. Jim

    what kind of paper work did they have you sign? Given they don’t really inspect the vehicle, is there anything in the contract that says that if they find a mechanical issue once they do get around to putting it on a lift that they can come back after you for it?

    Reply
    • Zach Shefska

      Jim, thank you for this comment. Unfortunately I don’t remember what I signed … I think it was just the title transfer documents.

      Reply
    • The Rog

      This is very telling about Carvana’s true intentions, isn’t it.
      Shows they’re selling junk and know it.

      Reply
  7. ruiyang

    I just sold my car to Carvana today. And saw your website. Hahaha. It’s true, it’s surprisingly simple and fast. You upload the basic details, made a appointment then the guy just took some photos and then it’s done. Smooth… By the way, for my car, the offer Carvana>Vroom>Carmax. Great experience.

    Reply
  8. Alice

    Carvana ROCKS! It just doesn’t get any easier: incredibly easy to upload documents, constant follow-up text messages…great customer service for a small glitch I had with the bank’s payoff letter (bank’s fault)… PRICE was $3500 HIGHER than my dealer for a car with less than 600 miles on it!

    Top to bottom, this company has done it all right!

    Reply
  9. Kadija

    Hello Zach,

    Your video was extremely helpful and informative but I was wondering if there was a year limit on the cars Carvana buys? Every comment I’ve read is about a 2017-2020 vehicle and I was wondering if a 2010-2016 model is too old for this company to purchase?

    Reply
    • akshat gupta

      i have an appt with carvana guys today for my 2016 mazda cx-5 with low miles. Like others said carvana > vroom.
      my estimate went from 18k -12k -18k -15k – 16k in past 8 months. it went up by 500 in 2 days. so yes it can be volatile. i am finally selling at 16k with 35k miles on my cx-5 before i lose more money just by having it sitting in my garage.
      will update my selling experience in the evening.

      Reply
    • Dave

      I have been shopping my 2014 Genesis Coupe and Carvana has quoted the best price by $1000’s..

      Reply
    • Mike

      Nope, i’m currently Selling them my 2009 Jaguar and just for giggles i put the info in from my 2000 Chevy Blazer and they actually did come back with a price for the blazer. I was surprised.

      Reply
  10. Betty Ann Cicala

    I TRIED A DOZEN TIMES TO GET INFO ON SELLING MY CAR AND THEY KEEP TELLING ME THEY HAVE TO CHECK WITH THEIR AGENT AND WILL GET BACK TO ME. BS I WOULN NOT RECOMMEND THEM AT ALL. THEY DO NOT EVER GET BACK TO YOU.THEY ARE A WASTE OF TIME SO DON’T BELIEVE THE COMMERCIALS YOU SEE THAT’S ALSO BS

    Reply
  11. Royal

    Say you get an offer you like and you proceed with dropping off your car, signing over the title. How does payment work? Is payment immediate or after a certain period of time? What is the payment process? Are there fees of any sort that the seller is responsible for?

    Reply
  12. Eric

    You talk about everything except how you get paid if you own your car outright. When do you get payment and how long does it take to clear?. I feel a little uneasy signing over my $20k car and not being paid in full at that time.

    Reply
    • mike lord

      They initiated direct deposit before they towed the car and I had the money in the bank the next day.

      Reply
    • The Rog

      No kidding!

      Reply
  13. WJ Tracy

    Had my car details put into the Carmax and Carvana app.
    Made sure the specs were both correct.

    Results for what they would pay:

    Carmax = $19,000
    Carvana = $16,704

    Quite a difference. I don’t know if I would trust either one of them.

    Reply
    • Tim Coll

      I can’t speak for Carvana, but I have experience selling a car to CarMax. Once I had an offer in writing from them, I decided to sell my car to them. It took less than 35 minutes to walk out with a check matching the offer they had given me.

      Reply
  14. Roy Savage

    Hey, I am selling my car to carvna and they want to offer me $9k on my car but I have 5k negative. When they cut me the check and they take my 5k payoff and the 5k goes to my bank to record the 5k payoff. What do I do the 9k Carvan gave me? Do I have to pay that to the bank right away or do I still have a monthly loan amount to pay the bank?

    Reply
    • Zach Shefska

      Roy, you will give Carvana your check and Carvana will pay off the loan.

      Reply
  15. Steve

    Hi Zach.
    I am considering selling my leased Corolla (3 months to go) to Carvana. I have two decent sized cracks in my back bumper. Do you know how this will affect Carvana’s offer? My garage can replace with a new bumper for around $1000. I filled out my forms for Carvana without noting the cracks so I could see what their offer would be. (It’s about $5700 more than the buyout price from Toyota). So my dilemma is: have the mechanic make it like new or refile with Carvana and risk getting a much lower offer from them. Would appreciate your advice. Thanks!

    Reply
  16. Wade

    I’m selling my car to Carvana on Tuesday and requested a paper check on delivery. They state a business check. How safe is that?

    Reply
    • Marie

      Wade, Did you get an answer to your question? We are thinking the same. Thanks Marie

      Reply
    • Russell wilks

      Check or direct deposit

      Reply
  17. Walter

    Your price to buy my car is way to low, at $239 when I can sell it locally for no less than $3500.

    Reply
  18. Joe

    Recently [03/31//21] I tried selling. my leased 2019 Volvo XC40 T5 R-Design to Carvana and found out that VCFS changed their policy [01/01/2021] that Carvana no longer works with VCFS. CarMac offered a higher price by $1,000 and lucky for me, CarMax worked with VCFS although VCFS was very rude during the whole process. My lease ends 06/2021 so I sold my XC40 before lease and and had $5000 in positive equity. CarMax paid the payoff amount that VCFS provided to me and provided me a check for the difference.

    Reply
  19. James Leverett

    BAIT & SWITCH BY CARVANA. Well, Zach, I appreciate your Channel and trust everything you and Pops tell us. However I guess you or your other followers haven’t seen the ugly side of Carvana. About two weeks ago I obtained car value estimates from KBB, Edmunds, and Auto Club sites and then proceeded to contact on-line car buyers, and got quotes from the usual places (Shift, Vroom, and CarMax), and a local auto buyer. With that info in hand and your recommendation, I went online to Carvana to enter my data, but the site wouldn’t let me proceed past the initial page. It said something like “Oops, your mileage doesn’t match our records”, and showed 71K miles expected. I realized why they had the wrong mileage in their records because CA DMV made an error when my 2015 car was new, and personal license plates were assigned it from an old car with 71K miles on it. Obviously, no two month-old car can have 71K miles, and DMV corrected the problem within a few months. Now, five years later, Carvana still had not corrected the error from their records. So I called Carvana and pointed out their records were wrong, that my actual miles were now 68K, not the 71K they had from 5 years ago. The lady I spoke to said they would have a data technician look into it, and correct their record, but in the mean time she would take my car information (mileage, condition, options), etc., and would provide me a quote based on 71K. Then the quote would be updated after the corrections were made. The verbal offer was about $13.3K, and she opined that the offer could increase $400-$800 based on the lower mileage. Great. A day later, they asked by email to send a better photo of my pink slip, which I did. The day after that, they asked for a picture of the Pink Slip “In Hand”, which I did. The next day, I received a written offer for about $13.34K, a whopping $40 increase. This was now about $60 less than another offer I had received, but I figured they had not yet corrected their mileage error and the final price would still go up. I tried to call to confirm, but the wait was 2 hours, so I decided to go ahead and make an appointment to surrender my car. It turns out that the best date I could get was 9 days away, no matter whether or not I delivered it to the store or had them pick it up. So 9 days later, the Carvana rep showed up and inspected the car and documentation, and had me sign a stack of papers. Then I handed him the keys, and he handed me the check. I was stunned – – the check was for $231 less than their written offer – – without any explanation! I asked him what was he trying to pull over on me, and he claimed he knew nothing about it. I told him to call his office, and he did. I overheard the conversation, and the person on the other end said they had to re-appraise. There was no reason why. After he hung up, he told me it was a take it or leave it offer. Unfortunately, after I had the original -*written*- offer, I had notified the other companies that I had sold my car. My bad. It would have been a even bigger hassle to start over, and Carvana knew it. So I reluctantly accepted the check. I now know that Carvana is an unscrupulous company that I will warn everyone about. So Zach, you should update your section “Did Carvana change the offer when you got there?”. Yes they can, and they will. Unethical to say the least.

    Reply
  20. KERIN GORDON

    They offered me $200.00 for my 2004 Dodge Dakota that I paid $4,200.00 last year. I just did it to see what they would offer, I wasnt going to sell it. The cars I saw were overpriced and there is no way I would ever use this service.

    Reply
  21. Bubchek

    Great article. You nailed it perfectly on how the process works. You answered the same questions I had going into it. But I’m glad to say you’re certainly correct in everything you said about how easy it really is. I know because I just sold my low mileage ’13 Cruze to them several hours ago. And yes, I could not believe they did not change the price when I got there and did not do complete inspection on the car. And they paid me $1000 over bluebook. I reckon it really may hinge a lot on the car model, the mileage, the demand, etc.
    One thing I noticed in several different appraisals for the same car, same mileage, over 8-10 weeks, is that the appraisal swung up, down, and up again 1 or 2 thousand dollars. So if interested in selling, to Carvana, start keeping an eye on the appraisal over time to get a feel for the market. Tame the algorithm, be the algorithm. Lol

    Reply
  22. JERRY D DURDEN

    I am not one to make a lot of comments, but I have to say that selling my wife’s Nissan Versa was a wonderful experience! They paid me what they initially stated on the original offer. It was higher than any other buyer–including CarMax. If I ever sell another vehicle, then I will look to them again!

    Reply
    • Erica

      Any issues with state or federal taxes for 2021 for capital gains selling the vehicle? Just curious what I am getting into by only selling my car but leasing from a dealer

      Reply
  23. js

    Awful! I completed the initial online evaluation for the vehicle I intended to sell and within moments received an offer from Carvanna. The next steps, as outlined by Carvanna, were they would review the details of my vehicle , etc., and get back to me in 24 – 48 hours. It was 9 days before Carvanna got back to me, and that only occurred after I attempted to reach them by chat, which they suggest, but that was a dead end. As was calling – the message was that the wait time was hours to reach a customer service rep. Their other suggestion was to try reaching them by sms message. I did that and 2 days later they got in touch and said they would follow up. Another 2 days and they requested I upload another document, I did so but their upload system appears to be on the fritz cause I’ve uploaded the doc 5 times, but instead of showing the doc I uploaded in the list of uploads it keeps showing multiple copies of a doc that I uploaded 2 days ago. And, of course, there’s no way to reach anyone at Carvanna.. And in the email requesting the additional document it said; ‘All of your valid documents must be uploaded, and approved prior to your appraisal’s expiry date’ Of course no mention of the fact that they wasted 9 days getting back to me. Awful!

    Reply
  24. Randall Jordan

    I am in the process of selling and buying from Carvana and it has be fairly smooth. The only unexpected step I came across was after I uploaded images of the check from my bank. I called the afternoon of the day I had to have the images uploaded. I was calling to verify that all my documents were in cause there is no way to see what you have uploaded. That is when I was informed that we still needed to get the bank on the phone to verify the check. I am sitting there thinking, omg, it is almost 5pm and my credit union is almost closed for the day. Thankfully we were able to get someone on the phone at the CU to verify the check. Other than that every thing has been good, still a few days away from delivery date.

    Reply
  25. James Bond

    Carmax offered me more money than Carvana!!

    Reply
  26. Dave Coppock

    I have a 2018 Subaru Outback with the lease expiring Aug. 15. The residual value is $21k, Blackbook has it from $28-$32k and Carvana offered $28k about a month ago. I just sent Chase Finance a check to buy it and will most likely get back to Carvana to sell it. I’m on the fence about selling it though; I didn’t drive it much during the pandemic and it only has 25,500 miles on it.

    Reply
  27. Erica

    I’m thinking of selling to Carvana my 2018 Nissan Kicks SV with 15,200 miles. Immaculate condition- truly! I have a car on hold with Buick (2021 Encore Preferred Turbo) Buick is paying my last 2 lease payments to Nissan and I am told to drop the Kicks off at Nissan as end of lease. Would I have enough time to sell my car to Carvana and take the positive equity to pay off Nissan’s. ( BS!) “ End of Lease Fee” of $495 PLUS anything else they decide to tack on? I have one week to sign for the new car. How fast does Carvana pay and how do they pay you?
    Am I held accountable for taxes to the govt for the entire selling price that Carvana offers me? Or only the positive equity?

    Reply

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