Compared: Carvana vs. CarMax

Just how different are two of the country's largest used-car retailers?

CarMax exterior vs Carvana car vending machineAustin Lott | Capital One

Article QuickTakes:

If you're in the process of buying or selling a used car, you might have heard about used-car companies Carvana and CarMax. Although these automotive retailer brand names sound similar, shoppers will likely notice some differences in what the companies offer.

CarMax and Carvana locations

If you only want a brand-new car, truck, or SUV, a dealership is probably your best bet. That said, although CarMax and Carvana sell used cars exclusively, they do offer nearly new vehicles, many of which have fewer than 10,000 miles.

Both Carvana and CarMax dealers can sometimes deliver a vehicle right to your door. CarMax in certain areas offers free delivery if you're fewer than 60 miles away from a company store (you can check the CarMax website to see if your location qualifies). If you're near one of 37 Carvana Car Vending Machines in operation (the number in service at the time of this article's writing), you can pick up your vehicle there. The vending machines are transparent, multistory towers that house Carvana's automotive wares; customers can choose touchless private appointments to collect their cars.

Like Carvana, CarMax will let you commit to a vehicle online, sight unseen. For those who want to kick the tires, CarMax has more than 240 locations across the country for a test drive. CarMax will hand you the keys for 24 hours and 150 miles if you want to check out the vehicle longer. Don't expect to do it every day, though. CarMax limits this freebie to two test drives during any 30-day period.

Carvana and CarMax guarantees and warranties

Carvana provides all customers with a seven-day money-back guarantee and a 100-day limited warranty covering most mechanical and electrical failures for about the first 4,000 miles. Although, like CarMax, wear items such as brakes and tires are not included in the Carvana coverage.

CarMax provides all customers with a 30-day money-back guarantee and a 90-day or 4,000-mile limited warranty. The company also has more than 200 repair shops at their locations, which can handle your vehicle if you live in many metropolitan areas. Similar to car dealerships, Carvana and CarMax offer various financing options as well.

Both Carvana and CarMax will buy your current car

The two used-car giants can make you an offer on your current vehicle even if you aren't in the market to buy a replacement.

In many cases, they'll make an offer without seeing your car. Keep in mind that an online offer is not a commitment to buy the vehicle; both Carvana and CarMax reserve the right to edit offers in person if the car's condition doesn't match your description.

Depending on your location, Carvana's distinctive tow trucks can be dispatched to collect your vehicle. Otherwise, Carvana has various physical locations it calls hubs, where final paperwork and payment can be completed.

CarMax will prompt you to make an appointment after the company has generated an offer on your car. You'll need to visit a physical location to finish the paperwork and get paid.

This site is for educational purposes only. The third parties listed are not affiliated with Capital One and are solely responsible for their opinions, products and services. Capital One does not provide, endorse or guarantee any third-party product, service, information or recommendation listed above. The information presented in this article is believed to be accurate at the time of publication, but is subject to change. The images shown are for illustration purposes only and may not be an exact representation of the product. The material provided on this site is not intended to provide legal, investment, or financial advice or to indicate the availability or suitability of any Capital One product or service to your unique circumstances. For specific advice about your unique circumstances, you may wish to consult a qualified professional.
author photo
Steven Lang
Steven Lang is a special contributor to Capital One with nearly two decades of experience as an auto auctioneer, car dealer, and part owner of an auto auction. Some of the best-known auto publications turn to him for his expert insight. He is also the co-developer of the Long-Term Quality Index, a survey of vehicle reliability featuring over two million vehicles that have been inspected by professional mechanics.