Carvana Review: A Detailed Look at How It Works, Warranty, Financing, and More

By J.R. Duren
HighYa Staff
Updated on: Mar 20, 2019

What Is Carvana?

Carvana is a website where you can shop for used cars and get financing, as well as sell or trade-in your car.

The company’s difference is its series of car vending machines and their delivery service, two features of their buying process that make purchasing a car easier than going to a dealership or shopping classified ads.

Carvana was founded in 2013 and is based in Tempe, AZ. It has an average rating of 2.1-stars based on over 400 customer reviews here on HighYa and holds an A+ BBB rating as of October 25, 2019.

In this review, we will talk about Carvana’s process for buying, selling and financing, as well as how the company compares to other car-buying websites. Along the way, I’ll also incorporate my experience of buying a car from Carvana.

The Process of Buying a Car Through Carvana

Buying a car on Carvana’s website is very simple. You search the cars you’re interested in, select one to buy and then commit to buy it. Then, you’ll notify Carvana about how you’ll pay for the car and, if financed, who is giving you the auto loan.

At that point, Carvana gives you the option of them delivering the car to your home or you picking up your car at a Carvana vending machine.

You’ll fill out all the documents necessary to buy and finance the car but the transaction won’t actually go through because Carvana gives you seven days to drive the car around—an extended test drive, if you will.

If you want to keep the car, then you don’t have to tell Carvana anything. They’ll process all the paperwork and, within a few weeks, you should receive your car’s new license plate. If you decide not to buy the car, then the transaction doesn’t go through and your car loan is still available to buy another car.

The final aspect of their car sales is that you don’t pay a dealership fee for your vehicle, which is an extra charge that dealerships add to your bottom line that covers paperwork and other random work done.

When I bought our car, the process was very simple and a welcomed relief. The price was fair based on the local market and the simplicity of the pick-up at the vending machine was so much easier than having to deal with a salesperson and financing rep at a car dealership.

Also, we found a $10 Visa prepaid card in the car—a small thank you from Carvana.

Carvana’s Listings: Photos and Car Condition

As for the actual car listings, the Carvana website is similar to other car-buying sites in that you get to search through various listings of cars that fit your preferences.

What makes the site different is that all cars are photographed in-house and, in many cases, there are 360-degree photos of the car as well as interior photos.

In addition to these photos, Carvana provides markers on the car that pinpoint minor damage like paint chips or small dents.

Every car listed on the site goes through a 150-point inspection, Carvana notes, “so that you can be 100% confident in the quality and safety of your vehicle.”

Their website notes that their inspection checks tire tread, breaks and other important areas of your car.

Also, of importance is that every Carvana car is accident-free.

Carvana’s Warranty

To ease your mind, Carvana gives you a 100-day, 4,189-mile warranty in which repairs are covered through an insurance company called SilverRock.

In some cases, you’ll have to pay a small deductible for any qualifying repairs. According to the fine print, the warranty doesn’t cover part defects due to normal wear and tear, nor does it cover damage to the trim or interior.

When we bought our car, we noticed that a sensor detecting if one of our doors was open or closed was broken and that there was an issue with the air conditioning. To make a claim, you have to take the car to a dealership or ASE-certified mechanic.

Since our car was a 2014 Dodge Caravan, we took it to a Dodge dealership. The service department worked with the insurance company to make the repairs. We didn’t have to pay for anything.

Financing a Car through Carvana

When you buy a car with Carvana, you can choose to finance through your own bank or credit union, or you can get an auto loan through Carvana.

The rate and max amount of Carvana’s in-house financing offers are based on the price of the car, your annual income, and your credit scores, so keep that in mind as you compare what Carvana offers to what you can get from your bank or credit union.

Carvana’s FAQ page says that you have to be at least 18 years old, make at least $10,000 a year and have not active bankruptcies to qualify. The rates and loan amount they quote you are good for 45 days.

Their loans are only good for cars on their site and you can’t use a co-signer.

At the time of publishing, we could not get a range of rates for Carvana auto loans. However, we did find out that their preliminary quote of your loan doesn’t require a hard credit check, which means it won’t hurt your credit.

If you do a preliminary quote, then you can take what they give you and compare it to the loans you can get from other financial institutions.

» Related: Financing Your Car: 6 Expert Tips on Landing a Great Auto Loan

Selling or Trading a Car to Carvana

Carvana also buys cars and accepts trade-ins. It’s hard for us to say how much they’d offer you for your car, so we decided to use the car we bought from them as an example.

To get an offer for your car, you’ll enter your license plate or VIN number along with the state you’re in. Then, the site will ask you questions about the car’s condition, trim package, mileage, and a few other details.

After filling this out, Carvana told us our car’s trade-in value was $6,755, according to Kelley Blue Book. What’s interesting is that they added another $1,617 to that total to adjust for the local car market, bringing the total trade-in value to $8,372.

A Carvana chat representative told us that the trade-in price is the same as the sale price. If we traded our car to Carvana and applied the car’s value to a purchase through them, they’d credit $8,372. If we sold it outright without buying a car from them, they’d give us $8,372.

How Carvana Compares to Other Car Buying Websites

Based on our research of this service, we believe there are some distinct differences between Carvana and other car listing sites.

First, Carvana’s photos are far superior to what you’d find on a site like Autotrader, Kelley Blue Book, Edmunds.com or Cars.com.

Those sites use photographs from either dealerships or private sellers and, in most cases, they aren’t going to have the same level of photo quality and coverage that you’ll get on Carvana.

Second, none of the cars that Carvana sells have accidents in their vehicle history, which is something that makes them unique from other sites.

You can’t search Autotrader, for example, to find cars that have no accidents in their history. To find that out, you’d have to narrow down the cars you’re interested in and then check each individual vehicle history report (if the car has one) to find out if there’s been an accident.

The advantage you have of using other sites like Autotrader or Cars.com is that they allow you to search for cars sold by private sellers. These cars tend to be cheaper than what you’d pay at a dealership.

Also, having the option to search for cars from dealerships and private sellers gives you more options.

Carvana, on the other hand, offers cars that tend to be five years old or newer, so you won’t be able to find a bargain car that’s 10 years old.

As far as sites that are similar to Carvana, Vroom is the main competitor. Like Carvana, the site allows you to buy online and sell/trade-in your existing car.

Some of the advantages that Vroom offers is that they provide a complimentary year of roadside assistance and they offer extended warranties beyond the 90-day warranty that comes with the car.

Carvana has the advantage when it comes to photos because theirs are, for the most part, 360-degrees and they point out the flaws on the car’s exterior.

The Bottom Line: Is Carvana Right for You?

We’ve had the chance to research Carvana through the available information on their website as well as try the service out ourselves.

Based on these two factors, we think Carvana has some distinct advantages and disadvantages over other methods of buying a car.

If you’re someone who needs to buy a car fast and wants to get a car with a clean vehicle history and a thorough inspection from the seller, then Carvana is a great option.

When we bought our car, my wife was eight months pregnant, we were both exhausted and we didn’t want to have to deal with the painstaking process of haggling at a car dealership.

We spent a few hours over the course of two weeks researching cars on the site, then about 90 minutes choosing the car and getting funding, then another 90 minutes at the Carvana location in our city.

It was truly painless, even when we had to get work done on the car during the warranty period.

However, if you’re the kind of person that loves to negotiate a good deal and is confident that you can get a car at lower than the sticker price, Carvana probably isn’t the best choice because their prices are fixed...there is no haggling.

Also, if you’re on a budget and you need to get a car for less than $10,000, we think that Carvana isn’t the best option and that you can find a better deal by searching websites that provide cars from private sellers.

If you want to learn more about the various websites from which you can buy a car, check out our guide to popular used car buying sites. In it, we give you in-depth comparisons between Carvana, Kelley Blue Book, Edmunds, Autotrader, Cars.com and Craigslist.

Editor’s note: The purchase of a car through Carvana mentioned in this review was independent of any relationship between HighYa and Carvana.


Read 433 Carvana Customer Reviews and Complaints

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Average Customer Rating: 2.1
Rating Snapshot:
5 star: 82 4 star: 13 3 star: 28 2 star: 52 1 star:  258
Bottom Line: 26% would recommend it to a friend
Showing 1-11 of 433
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  • 1 out 1 people found this review helpful

    Car not in expected condition, defects not listed.

    • San Diego, CA,
    • Nov 15, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    I’ve been looking for a particular model VW GTI for some time and was happy to find it listed on Carvana for a good price and only 20K miles. As some people have also noted the model type listed on Carvana can be incorrect but I pulled the Mulroney sticker from the VIN to find the actual model and was pretty excited to find it was my "unicorn".

    The 360 views looked good, with only one minor defect marked - a scratch on the bumper. The ordering process was simple, and the car was delivered right on time with a very helpful delivery driver.

    However, reality was very disappointing.

    The interior detailing looked like it had been done by a lazy teenager in 10 minutes with dirt and cruft everywhere.

    There were several other unlisted defects. In particular a shoddy attempt at touching up a series of scratches. Two of the wheels had terrible road rash. Only one key was supplied (that’s $250 for a second key). The front spoiler was dislodged. The car was showing "service now" in the display. That’s going to be $300 for a 20K service. One wheel was missing plastic caps for the wheel lugs. So all in all, it’s probably $1000 to bring the car up to scratch. Not such a good price anymore. And sadly just confirming my fears about buying online.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 3 out 3 people found this review helpful

    Inaccurate car information

    • Colorado,
    • Nov 15, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    I purchased a Toyota Rav 4 and it did not have the features that were listed on the website. I ordered another Rav 4 to swap with the one I purchased and they delivered the car but it was not the color that I was expecting. It was supposed to be black but it was purple. I had contacted customer service to verify the color was black because it looked purple in the pictures. They assured me the color was black but when the car arrived it was purple. The website listed the color as black, but the day it was delivered the website was changed to say it was purple. Also, the mileage was 100 miles over what they said it was supposed to be. Now I'm stuck with the wrong color car. I could do a 3rd swap but it is a take it or leave it with no 7 days to try it out. Read the fine print. Buyer beware! Also, the shipping fee is non-refundable if you decide to reject the car. This is not made clear up-front. This company is dishonest. Stay far far away. As big of a hassle as a car dealership can be, I'd much rather deal with people face to face and have all the facts then get scammed by a company such as Carvana.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 1 out 1 people found this review helpful

    "Sorry for your bad luck."

    • Richmond, VA,
    • Nov 14, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    The only reason why anyone would use a service like this where you buy a car without seeing it, is trust. We trusted that the car would be sound. It isn’t. We bought a 3-year-old Chrysler Town and Country and on Day 8, one day after the return period, it stalled. We called and here is the direct quote from the customer service person, "Sorry for your bad luck."

    We took it to the service place, at no cost to us, but they cannot find the problem. I don’t trust this car and I have no recourse.

    Here’s another quote - when my husband said that we might get stuck on the side of the road they said, "We’ll be here for you!" They will pay for any fixes for the next few months, but I don’t want to travel with the car and get stuck somewhere.

    Bottom line - NO TRUST - for this car or this business model. I am stuck with this car and this stress. I will never buy from Carvana again.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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    • Nov 15, 2019

      Company Response from Carvana

      We appreciate your honest feedback on your experience with us. Carvana values its customers and conducts a 150-point inspection on all our vehicles to ensure they are up to our top quality standards. We are extremely disheartened to hear about your current situation, as your safety is important to us. We apologize that you were not provided with the resolutions you were looking to hear. Please check your inbox as we have emailed you with next steps and don't hesitate to reach out with any further questions or concerns.


  • 2 out 2 people found this review helpful

    Disappointed

    • North Carolina,
    • Nov 13, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    I purchased a vehicle through Carvana last year. Though I was initially satisfied with my experience, this has now changed to disappointed. I failed my inspection today due to the window tinting on my vehicle. I now have to pay more money to have the tint removed. Carvana should let customers know this ahead of time. My next vehicle will not be purchased through Carvana.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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    • Nov 15, 2019

      Company Response from Carvana

      Thank you for taking the time to reach out and share your feedback with us. We are very sorry for the issue you encountered with the window tint. Carvana is required to abide by each individual state's rules when it comes to tint. After reviewing your account, it does look like you have been able to work with our inside team to come to a positive resolution. Please do not hesitate to reach out if you have any further questions or concerns.


  • 3 out 3 people found this review helpful

    Wasted a lot of my time

    • Iowa,
    • Nov 12, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    I was going to buy a vehicle from Carvana and after going through all of the hoops they required they decided the income I get could be verified but they didn't want to accept it because my job pays direct deposit through Cash App. Instead of saying that right when I uploaded the documents, they wasted 3 days of my time having me send pay stubs, bank statements, and verification letters then at the very end lowered my "income level" and said my down payment would be quadruple what I was quoted.

    I do NOT recommend this place. AT ALL.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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    • Nov 15, 2019

      Company Response from Carvana

      Carvana wants to ensure that every customer has a stress free and smooth underwriting process. This begins by providing our customers with correct expectations and our specific underwriting requirements. We want to sincerely apologize for any misinformation and for the inconvenience this caused. Your feedback has been provided to the appropriate teams to hopefully prevent this from occurring again. Please do not hesitate to reach out if you have any further questions or concerns.


  • 1 out 1 people found this review helpful
    Updated review

    Great car

    • California,
    • Nov 11, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    UPDATED REVIEW:

    Despite the delay, the car arrived right on time on the second delivery date. The car was in great shape, clean, as advertised, and even had a full tank of gas. The delivery driver, Taylor, was very pleasant and informative.

    Overall, the process was painless for me. This may not be the case for everyone, but I would recommend giving it a try.

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

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    • Previous review
    • Nov 1, 2019

    Delays

    I placed an order for a car on 10/25/19.

    Delivery day set for 11/1/19.

    I realized I would not be available that day, so I rescheduled the delivery day for the following day, 11/2/19.

    Received a call 10/30/19 that delivery will be delayed until 11/7/19 because of "severe weather" in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I agreed to new delivery date. Immediately after getting off the phone with the Carvana rep, I checked the weather for all of New Mexico, and it is clear skies for the whole state and surrounding states. I’m not sure what could cause a 6-day delay when there is no bad weather in the forecast for the next 10 days and hasn’t been for the last few days. I would understand if there was actually severe weather, but the weather is just fine and I’m starting to question if this is the type of company I want to do business with.

    I, thankfully, have not signed the contracts yet. They have already changed since ordering the car. I have decided to wait to make anything final with contracts because the process seems to be going the way a lot of people have complained about.

    I will wait a little longer to see how this process goes, but I am becoming less interested in buying with Carvana by the day.

    I will update this review as events play out.

    • Nov 6, 2019

      Company Response from Carvana

      Thank you for taking the time to provide us feedback in regard to your Carvana experience. We know how frustrating it can be when your vehicle gets delayed and understand the inconvenience of rescheduling your delivery. With that being said, there was an ice storm in New Mexico that did cause a major highway to be shut down, and we apologize that this impacted you. We do our best to make sure the vehicles arrives on time and we provide accurate information regarding the reason for the delay as soon as we are notified. Thank you again for your feedback, we look forward to resolving your concerns.

    (read moreread less...)

  • 3 out 4 people found this review helpful

    Terrible customer experience. Never received the car I ordered!

    • Atlanta, GA,
    • Nov 9, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    What a horrid customer experience. I read all the negative reviews on Carvana, but thought I would be fine given all the great reviews on Carvana’s website. I should have known better. I’m not going to drone on and on, but basically, here’s what happened:

    1. Ordered 2013 Porsche Boxster online via their website. Easy breezy! Got approved for financing through Capital One Auto.

    2. Set up a delivery date and got excited!

    3. At the time of delivery, I get a call from the delivery guy saying he couldn’t figure out how to get gas into the car so he can deliver it to me.

    4. Carvana took the Porsche to a local car shop here in Atlanta. The car shop couldn’t figure out what was wrong with it and said there wasn’t anything wrong with it. I had to make the phone calls to Carvana for status updates.

    5. Three days later, no updates from Carvana, still don’t have the car I ordered, no clue what’s going on. Was told by one of their customer service managers that they would personally see to it that I was "taken care of". Never heard back from anyone.

    6. Bought a nicer Porsche Boxster from a local Atlanta Porsche dealership today at a lower price, with a two year Porsche certified unlimited mile bumper to bumper warranty, that’s in better shape with more options.

    7. Took one hour to get in and out with my new Porsche using the dealer.

    8. Carvana SUCKS. I’ll never give them another chance to earn my business. STAY AWAY!

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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    • Nov 11, 2019

      Company Response from Carvana

      Carvana's goal is to ensure every customer has an outstanding car buying experience. The last thing we want to do is inconvenience a customer in any way. We want to sincerely apologize for the delay on your vehicle. Carvana does its very best to anticipate any roadblocks, but we understand at times we will fall short. It is imperative in these moments that we have constant communication with our customers. We are sorry to see you go, but would love the opportunity to turn around this experience if you are ever in the market again. Once again, we are truly sorry for what transpired. Please do not hesitate to reach out if you have any further questions or concerns.


  • 1 out 1 people found this review helpful

    Rip off, don’t use, worst experience buying a car

    • Houston, TX,
    • Nov 5, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    I bought a 2019 Dodge Challenger with 30k miles two months ago. A month before I bought it the crank sensor was serviced, and in the two months I have had the vehicle, the vehicle has been in the shop for a month of it. The vehicle was repaired with after-market parts which voided the original factory warranty. The repair was not disclosed and the car has been a lemon purchase. Carvana also damages the vehicle in transport to the pick-up and refused to list damages on the Carfax when I asked and the rep told me it would be to protect the resale value. Carvana will hide the history of a vehicle to make a sale. Now I am stuck with the tow fees and unreliable transportation two months into a 72-month agreement. Do not use Carvana!

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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    • Nov 6, 2019

      Company Response from Carvana

      We appreciate you taking the time to share your experience. We understand how disappointing it is to encounter issues with your new vehicle and we are so sorry that this has been your experience. It is never our intention to mislead our customers and we sincerely apologize that you have been made to feel this way. A specialist will be in contact with you in an effort to provide additional assistance. Please feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns in the meantime.


  • 1 out 1 people found this review helpful

    Bad car

    • Winchester, VA,
    • Nov 5, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    Sold me a car that is soon to blow up, it's not in good shape. Don't buy cars from here, they're not reliable. I have asked to help get it repaired but my warranty is soon to run out and they don't want to extend it long enough for the car to get a diagnosis.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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    • Nov 7, 2019

      Company Response from Carvana

      Thank you for taking the time to share your honest feedback. Carvana conducts a 150 point inspection on every vehicle to well to ensure it meets our high standards. We want to sincerely apologize for any issues you may be encountering. The last thing we want is to inconvenience a customer in any way. After reviewing your account, it does look like you have been working with our Post Sale team to have your concerns addressed. Please do not hesitate to reach out if you have any further questions or concerns.


  • 3 out 3 people found this review helpful

    Better off sitting at a dealership for hours

    • Michigan,
    • Nov 4, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    I haven’t even received my car yet and am already starting to think about canceling my order. Car was supposed to be delivered tomorrow in which they gave me the same BS excuse they gave others about trucks breaking down, etc. Needless to say, I returned my lease today and now I’m without a vehicle until next week when my car is supposedly going to be delivered. Talk to their garbage "team" just to be told "oh well" in other words. Now I keep hearing about many people not receiving their registration and it’s pushing me towards canceling my order. I’m sure Carvana will respond to this review with that same basic copy and paste answer they give everyone else because they more than likely do not even read these reviews. But no matter what happens from here on out I would not recommend buying a car from them. Wait for a real company to take this idea of online car buying and make it a real business and take it seriously! I guess the only thing good about this was I only wasted about 15 mins of my time.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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    • Nov 6, 2019

      Company Response from Carvana

      We want to sincerely apologize for the delay with your delivery. Carvana wants to assure you the last thing we want to do is inconvenience a customer in any way. We understand at times unforeseen roadblocks may arise, and when these do occur we want to notify our customers in a timely manner. Carvana strives to have a seamless and stress-free car buying experience, but we understand that we have fallen short. After reviewing your account, it does look like you have been able to work with our Inside Team to have your concerns addressed. Once again, we appreciate your patience and are truly sorry for the delay. Thank you for taking the time to share your feedback. Please do not hesitate to reach out if you have any further questions or concerns.


  • 1 out 1 people found this review helpful

    So far...so bad...

    • Belton, TX,
    • Nov 2, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    At first, everything seemed on track with them when I made my first attempt at a car purchase. Just before delivery I realized that the car listed wasn’t the one I wanted (Tesla Model 3 Long-range) but in fact, it was a Mid-range model. Now, the customer service rep was great, she helped me comb through all the listings to find the model I wanted (even had upgrades) for only $200 more (but picking a new car, pushed delivery one week). Fast forward, three days before delivery (31st of October 2019) I get a call saying they cannot make the delivery date because the car was not charged and missed the transport...it’s an electric vehicle...you mean to tell me no one checked to make sure it was charged and ready for transport? Seriously? 150-point inspection and no one looked at the battery on an electric car...Now, delivery is pushed another week, ok fine. My new issue is I travel for work and the new delivery day is one day before I leave for the weekend (4 days for work), so the 7-day money-back guarantee is now cut down to 3 before I have to decide (mind you I want to bring it to the Tesla dealer to get an inspection). So frustrating. Now I sit and wait for the delivery day once again. I will update the review after the car arrives.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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    • Nov 6, 2019

      Company Response from Carvana

      Thank you for taking the time to share your feedback with us. Carvana is happy that the purchasing process was streamlined and easy, though we are disappointed to hear of the delays you encountered on your delivery. We do our best to provide accurate timelines, but we understand at times unforeseen roadblocks may arise. The last thing we want to do is deliver a car that does not meet our standard. We are truly sorry for the inconvenience this delay has caused. One of the great benefits of Carvana is our 7 Day Money Back Guarantee where a customer may return or swap their vehicle if it does not fit their needs. Please do not hesitate to reach out if you have any further questions or concerns.


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