Who Dealership Pays The Most For Used Cars?


When it’s time to trade in or sell your used car, you naturally want to get the highest payout possible. But not all dealerships will offer the same amount for your vehicle. Certain brand name and independent used car dealers actually have a reputation

for giving more competitive appraisals and paying top dollar for pre-owned vehicles. If you’re looking to maximize your profit when parting ways with your current ride, focus on getting quotes from these used car buyers known for fair offers.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll highlight which specific dealerships rise above the rest when it comes to paying generously for used vehicle purchases. Whether you ultimately sell outright or trade it in, read on to learn where you’re likely to get the most bang for your buck.


One of the largest used car dealers in America, CarMax has built its reputation on offering strong trade-in values. They are consistently rated as one of the best dealers for getting more money for your vehicle.

Consumers give CarMax high marks for transparent, no-haggle pricing and flexible appointments that make the process low stress. Their appraisal process is thorough and nationwide market analytics help them pay top dollar on a wide range of vehicles.


Another national used car dealer, Carvana has heavily adopted online vehicle sales. Their website allows you to get a guaranteed quote for your car in minutes just by entering the VIN, mileage and condition.

Appointments are quick and conducted at their signature car vending machines. Carvana also earns praise for making the trade-in and selling experience smooth and customer-focused. Quotes may exceed private market value.


Used car e-commerce site Vroom is designed to make selling your vehicle for top dollar as easy as possible. Their online price estimator provides an upfront guaranteed quote after submitting details and photos of your car.

Local pickup or direct shipping can be arranged once accepted. Customers highlight Vroom’s speed and pricing transparency when cashing out their old vehicle.


Give Me The VIN

Give Me The VIN has carved out a niche providing killer trade-in quotes for those looking to dump their vehicle fast. Their free online valuation tool outputs an instant guaranteed offer after entering your VIN, mileage and zip code.

Local pickup or shipping can be arranged once you accept the quote. Extensive data insights allow GMTV to pay well to acquire inventory.


With over 300 dealerships coast to coast, AutoNation has become America’s largest auto retailer. Their used vehicle inventory is massive, and they rely heavily on trade-ins to fuel it. Strong trade-in offers keep cars rolling in,

while certification programs allow them to resell at premium pricing. Expect competitive quotes at any AutoNation brand dealer.



This used car buying service lives up to the bold promise of its name. Sellers are promised “guaranteed offers” with no obligations when utilizing their free online valuation tool. WeBuyAnyCar touts its ease of use with seamless website quotes,

local branch access, and fast payment on accepted offers. Competitive pricing helps feed vehicles into their wholesale channels.


Fast-growing chain CarLotz positions itself as a used car consignment marketplace matching sellers and buyers. Their core business model relies on acquiring inventory at attractive prices. Strong trade-in offers are a key component. Excellent customer service and range of finishings on acquired vehicles also earn CarLotz loyal fans.

Other Top Used Car Buyers

Vroom, Give Me The VIN, AutoNation, WeBuyAnyCar, and CarLotz are some other dealers with strong reputations for giving great trade-in offers and paying generously for used car purchases. Their online valuation tools make getting quotes fast, while nationwide footprints let them pay top dollar.

Rental Car Companies’ Used Car Purchase Criteria

When acquiring used rental cars, fleet operators like Hertz, Enterprise, and Avis consider:

  • Mileage
  • Service history
  • Accident history
  • Exterior and interior condition
  • Mechanical inspection results
  • Tire condition
  • Smoke odors

They need to present well-maintained, mechanically sound vehicles. Higher standards mean they’ll pay less for vehicles in just “fair” condition versus “excellent.”

Rental Car Companies' Used Car Purchase Criteria
Rental Car Companies’ Used Car Purchase Criteria

Factors Affecting Used Car Value

A used car’s projected resale value is affected by:

  • Mileage and condition
  • Maintenance records
  • Customizations
  • Brand reputation
  • Regional supply and demand
  • Recent auction sale prices
  • Predicted consumer demand

Lower miles and pristine condition equals higher retained value. Gaps in service history hurt value. Heavy customization also lowers resale potential.

Rental Car Companies’ Used Car Purchase Criteria

Mileage – Most rental companies want used cars with under 30,000-40,000 miles. Some may go up to 60,000 miles if the price is right. Lower miles mean the car has more rental life.

  • Service history – Maintenance records are required to confirm proper oil changes, inspections, and mechanical care was performed. Gaps in service history often disqualify vehicles.
  • Accident history – Clean Carfax and title with no accident or flood damage history. Any major body repairs are prohibited.
  • Exterior condition – No visible dings, scratches, or dents. Only minor wear acceptable with touch up allowed. No mismatched paint or panels.
  • Interior condition – All upholstery and surfaces should be in good shape with minimal staining and no tears. No burns or damage to textures.
  • Mechanical inspection – Vehicles must pass an extensive mechanical inspection checking engine, transmission, suspension, brakes, and electronics.
  • Tires – Decent tread depth required, often 6/32″ or more. Must match and be the proper spec for the vehicle.
  • Smoke odors – No lingering smoke or nicotine smells in the cabin. Ozone treatment may be required to remove odors.

Rental agencies need to present well-maintained, mechanically sound vehicles. Higher standards mean they’ll pay less for vehicles in just “fair” condition versus “excellent.”

Used Car Pricing Factors

Current wholesale market value – They research wholesale pricing guides and auction sale prices to gauge current market rate. Projected depreciation – Estimating how much the vehicle’s value will decline over

their planned length of use based on mileage accumulation. Future resale value – Evaluating the projected resale value of the vehicle when they sell it at auction after 1-2 years renting it out.

  • Acquisition costs – Any costs associated with transporting, inspecting, reconditioning or titling the vehicle must be built in.
  • Rental utilization – Past rental data on the vehicle model provides occupancy and mileage accumulation estimates.
  • Rental rate – The amount they can charge per day/week for renting that particular vehicle model.
  • Maintenance and repair costs – Estimating any mechanical upkeep the vehicle will incur during the rental period.
  • Licensing costs – Any registration, licensing, taxes applicable to putting the vehicle into rental service.
  • Volume discounts – If acquiring multiple vehicles of the same model, bulk pricing discounts may come into play.

The goal is to buy at a price where they can rent the vehicle out at a profitable daily rate after costs. Condition, specifications, and anticipated lifespan help determine what price makes financial sense.

Used Car Pricing Factors
Used Car Pricing Factors

Resale Value Influencers

Lower mileage vehicles tend to retain greater value. High mileage significantly hurts resale price. A car in pristine or “excellent” condition holds value better than those in “good” or “fair” shape. Cosmetics affect perception. Luxury and premium brands tend to depreciate slower thanks to higher demand on the used market.

Brands and models with better reliability and lower ownership costs retain more value. Comprehensive maintenance records improve resale value versus unknown history. Heavy customization and aftermarket parts lower projected resale, while factory options can help.

Resale values fluctuate by region due to market supply and demand factors. Stronger economies and lower gas prices boost used car pricing. Recessions hurt values. Recent auction sale prices set expectations on current wholesale market values.

Predicting consumer demand for particular models or segments affects future outlook. Redesigns can either spur interest in older models or make them seem outdated.


Who pays more CarMax or Carvana?

Carvana tends to offer slightly higher quotes than CarMax on average, according to consumer reports. Both dealers are known for making strong offers. Carvana’s quotes may exceed private market value since they focuses heavily on online sales. CarMax has extremely high volumes as well that allow them to pay top dollar.

Who makes the most money at a car dealership?

The general manager of a car dealership usually makes the most money with average pay of $134,000 per year. Top salespeople can also earn over $100,000 in commissions and volume bonuses. Finance managers make commissions on loans and extras they sell. Service advisors earn commissions on repair orders.

Where do dealerships make the most money?

Dealerships make the most profit in their financing and insurance offices. That’s where they sell loan terms, extended warranties, GAP insurance, and other add-ons. These carry high margins and commissions. Service departments are also big profit centers with marked up labor rates and parts sales.

Why are Carvana offers so low?

Carvana offers can seem low because their online quotes reflect wholesale pricing. However, for buyers, their no-haggle model cuts out retail markup, so you pay below market value. For sellers, their offers build in acquisition costs, reconditioning, and desired profit margin. Private sales may yield more but carry more hassle.

Q: Do luxury car dealers pay more for used vehicles?

A: Often yes, especially for their own make. Demand for used luxury vehicles gives them more pricing flexibility on trade-ins.

Q: What about local independent used car lots?

A: Smaller lots can sometimes compete on pricing since they have lower overhead. Their offers depend on local demand.

Q: Is it better to trade-in or sell a used car to a dealer?

A: Selling separately almost always earns slightly more money. Trading in removes hassle and may offer purchase price discounts.


While every dealership will seek to make a profit reselling trade-ins, some clearly go above and beyond to provide strong offers and a great experience. CarMax, Carvana, Vroom and other used car specialists distinguish themselves by making

top dollar trade-in quotes core to their business models. Maximizing volume and broader market reach gives them flexibility to pay generously. Do your research across multiple buyers, but start conversations with those reimbursed for fair used car valuations.

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