Updated for 2024
When it comes time to say goodbye to your current set of wheels, you have plenty of options. You could sell to Carvana, sell to CarMax, sell to a private party, or perhaps trade in at the dealership. 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. Selling to Carvana 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. Here’s what went well, how it works, and more.
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 used car 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 may be yes.
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Why not CarMax or Vroom?
Carvana dominated online car buying last year, but the market is quickly changing (check out the video above). There could be better offers out there, and that’s why we recommend comparing offers first.
I recommend you get offers from Carvana, Vroom, Shift, and CarMax before deciding where to sell your car. 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.
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 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.
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.
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