What is Carvana and how does it work?

If you want to buy a used car, there are now more websites and apps to help you than ever. One of the more innovative options is Carvana. It is an online used car retailer that also sells cars from vending machines.

The idea of ​​a car vending machine obviously attracts attention. They are, however, only one of the reasons for the company’s popularity. So what is Carvana and should you try it?

What is Carvana?

Carvana is an online used car retailer. It has physical locations across the United States, but most sales are done online. Its website allows you to virtually inspect cars, allowing customers to make informed choices without seeing a car in person.

It offers all the services you would expect from a used car retailer, such as buying and selling cars, accepting trade-ins, and offering financing. If you buy a car, you can have it delivered to your doorstep.

Why does Carvana use vending machines?

mini floor toy car

Carvana currently has 24 car vending machines located across the United States. You don’t have to use them, but you can. They may have been designed to draw attention to the business, but they also offer an alternative to delivering a car.

If you choose to collect your car from a Carvana agency, you will receive a coin which will activate the machine. You can then watch the car being delivered to the ground.


How to buy a car online with Carvana

Bright light in a car window

Buying a car online obviously has its drawbacks. The idea of ​​choosing a car without seeing it in person will not appeal to everyone. Carvana, however, is designed to let you inspect virtually every vehicle.

Each vehicle is listed with a 360 degree view. More importantly, there doesn’t seem to be any attempt to hide the issues. Each bump is not only visible but announced. Each vehicle’s page includes an alert section, which highlights any issues the vehicle is experiencing. The website also provides VIN and history information for all vehicles.

To further alleviate concerns about vehicle condition, every car sold by Carvana must pass a 150-point inspection. If you find a vehicle you like, you can buy it directly on the site. You can pay in cash, but Carvana also offers financing and exchanges.

Related: Websites to Help You Buy Your Next Vehicle

If you don’t want to try the vending machine, Carvana will deliver your new vehicle to your doorstep. The price depends on your proximity to one of its premises. If you live nearby, delivery is provided by Carvana. This type of delivery is either free or payable depending on the distance. But everything you pay is refunded if you decide to return the vehicle.

If you don’t live nearby, the delivery is outsourced to another company. This type of delivery is always chargeable and it is not reimbursed if you decide to return the vehicle.

The obvious problem with Carvana is that you are asked to pay for a vehicle before you have inspected it yourself. To work around this potential issue, all vehicles are sold with a one week money back guarantee.

If the vehicle isn’t as expected, or you just decide you don’t want it, they’ll collect the car and refund your money.

How to sell a car online with Carvana

Carvana can also be used to sell a vehicle, and like buying one, the process can be initiated online. In order to receive a quote, you are asked to complete a questionnaire and provide the VIN number of your vehicle. Then, a quote will be given to you immediately.

Carvana must obviously check your vehicle in person before paying, but the availability of an online-only quote lets you know where you stand. If you accept the quote, Carvana will then send someone to your home to pick up the vehicle. Carvana buys cars in cash and in exchange.

Are customers satisfied with Carvana?

Carvana currently has a score of 2.8 out of 5 stars on Consumer Affairs. While many people are happy with the service, there have been various complaints against the company. Some customers report that vehicles arrive with issues that have not been fully described. Other customers complain that refunds take longer than they should.

How does Carvana compare to other online retailers?

Key chain and car.

If you like the idea of ​​Carvana, know that there are other applications to buy used cars. Here are some alternative options:


Autotrader is probably the best known website for buying a used car. Unlike Carvana, it doesn’t actually sell cars but rather lets you find people who are. The advantage of this is that it has a massive selection of vehicles to choose from. The website offers a choice of private sellers and dealerships. It also offers new cars and the ability to negotiate the price.


Vroom offers an almost identical service to Carvana. They are an online only used car retailer, they also offer a 150 point inspection of all vehicles and they deliver to your doorstep. A notable difference between the two is that Vroom charges a $599 non-refundable shipping fee on all purchases.


eBay lets you buy almost anything and has a dedicated section for cars. Unlike Carvana, buying a car on eBay usually means buying a car from a private seller and possibly bidding at an auction. This may get you a better price, but it also carries additional risk. You also won’t get a warranty.

Carvana is an interesting alternative to buying a used car

If you want to buy a used car, Carvana is certainly an interesting option. Buying a used car online is convenient, eliminates the need to negotiate, and allows you to spend more time researching your options and comparing prices.

On the other hand, buying a car from Carvana usually means paying for a car before you see it. Carvana tries to provide as much information as possible, but many buyers may still prefer the experience of an in-person visit.

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