Sell to Carvana: My Honest Review

Written by Zach Shefska

Zach Shefska is Chief Executive Officer of Your Auto Advocate. Zach co-founded Your Auto Advocate in 2019 after convincing his then retired father (sorry, dad) to join him in an attempt to make the car buying process more confidence-inspiring and consumer friendly.

September 16, 2020

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.

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  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.

    • 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!

    • 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?

  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.

    • 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.

  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.

    • 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!

    • Robin

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

  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.

  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.

    • 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.

  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?

    • 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.

  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.

  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!

  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?

    • 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.

    • Dave

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

    • 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.

  10. Betty Ann Cicala


  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?

  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.

    • mike lord

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

  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.

    • 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.

  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?

    • Zach Shefska

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

  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!

  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?

    • Marie

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

  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.

  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.

  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.



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