How to Sell a Car Online to Carvana: Comparing the Online Car Offers
Updated: Apr 25
How to prepare for an online car sale
You may have been hoping to sell your car via private party listing, but these private sales are quite frankly a hassle and waste of time. You've got two price-sensitive under-informed consumers trying to make a deal on something neither of them frequently buys or sells. Personally, I think the risks and haggle of car selling privately aren't worth it given:
People rarely show up (so "potential buyers" will waste your time)
People often waste your time (with lowball pricing offers or joyride test drives)
There’s potential for safety and scammer concerns (not only meeting a stranger but often having them drive your car or bouncing a forged cashier's check).
The logistics of the sale are painful (what happens if the car has a lien, the buyer often arranges a mechanical inspection and expects a perfect car. You'll need a trip to the DMV or title notary in many cases).
Luckily - selling your used car online, effectively, and for a good price is now hassle-free thanks to online sellers. And unlike selling to a private party, car dealerships, or craigslist tire-tickers, these online sellers are rational about what to expect from a used car. Here's a quick list of what to prepare before the sale:
Ensure you've got all the vehicle's documents (title, a current registration, insurance readily available, any payoffs from your lender)
Fix the "cheap and easy" stuff. If the car requires a $5,000 engine replacement, this is NOT worth taking care of on an old car, but if it needs a new accessory belt to avoid a nasty rattle, this is well worth taking care of. If the car is still under warranty, have it checked out and any issues remedied free of charge.
Get the car washed
Getting an online car appraisal from Carvana.com:
Now it's time to get an online appraisal. Visit https://www.carvana.com/sell-my-car.
Now you can enter your vehicle's VIN (typically found on the driver’s side door sill) or enter the license plate number and state
Now select if you want to sell or trade-in your vehicle
Enter the odometer of the vehicle and zip code
Select the appropriate TRIM level and ENGINE for your car. If you're unsure of this, the trim is typically written on the car's rear trunk lid (such as LE for a Toyota).
Select all the relevant options and packages your car has. You can find these on the original window sticker or research the package names using a site like Edmunds.com
Now it's time to enter vehicle details on the used vehicle history and condition (answer honestly, they'll find out). The first few questions are about the vehicle history itself (which includes accidents reported to vehicle history report services like Carfax or Autocheck and unreported accidents). Then you'll need to answer questions on mechanical and cosmetic condition.
After inputting all these details, it’s time to get a value! Carvana.com will present this instant cash offer with comparisons to the Kelley Blue Book (KBB) market price, so you get a sense of the "relative price" to other online car buyers. It’s worth double-checking independently, but it is a handy reference point.
How to get a cash offer to compare the Carvana offer to?
I don't think the value should be the ONLY driver determining who you choose to sell to, but it is worth doing your research and knowing the facts. It should be noted you can get an instant cash offer from:
All as a good comparison and to get a true sense of the trade-in value of your car. If you're open to physically driving the car for appraisals, it may be worth a visit to CarMax as well. The retailers all operate similarly but have different guarantees, different car buying expertise, and a nuanced different experience, so while the values may be comparable, the service may not be.
Please note that it’s also very easy to get simultaneous offers to sell your car online from our online appraisal tool.
How does Carvana’s offer compare to other services?
From the results below, you can see that in general, “if in doubt go with Carvana” seems to work. They were the highest offer in 35% of cases - and as additional support, Carvana does not typically adjust values or go through haggling after an inspection. For a more detailed analysis of how different services compare in price offers, check out our article here.
What are the next steps in selling to Carvana?
The steps for Carvana's car buying process break down as follows:
Once you receive your value and decide to sell your automotive vehicle to Carvana outright, you would then upload a few documents from Carvana depending on how your vehicle is currently paid for.
Individuals from Carvana’s Trades and Buy From Public team will review the documents and then make contact with the customer.
After your documents are uploaded to Carvana, the customer is kept up-to-date via email, prepping them for the steps leading up to the moment a Carvana Field Advocate arrives in a hauler ready to pick up your old car.
Once Carvana picks up the vehicle, they will show up in a Carvana hauler and will run through a checklist.
After the checklist is complete, the Advocate will hand the customer a check for their vehicle’s valuation, which they can deposit in their personal bank account immediately.
Selling your car to pay off your loan? Thought about refinancing?
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