How to Sue Carvana

April 4, 2021
How to Sue Carvana
People Clerk helps you with your small claims court lawsuit.

Do you have a dispute with Carvana over a car you purchased, a refund on a warranty, or bad title? You have several options, including suing Carvana in small claims court.

In this article, learn about:

  • Common types of small claims lawsuits against car dealerships.
  • What to do before suing Carvana in small claims court.
  • How much does it cost to sue Carvana in small claims?
  • How much can you sue Carvana for in small claims?
  • How to file a small claims lawsuit against Carvana.
  • Fun fact, lawyers are not allowed at the initial small claims hearing! This is to even the playing field so that each party has an equal chance of obtaining justice.

Common types of small claims lawsuits against car dealerships

We often receive the question, can I sue a car dealership in small claims? The answer is yes as long as the dispute is for $10,000 or less (more on this below).

Here are some examples of small claims lawsuits against car dealerships:

  • The car had mechanical issues shortly after you bought it. For example, you bought the car and the next day the engine started to act up.
  • Made a fraudulent misrepresentation or advertising regarding the car you purchased. For example, the car dealership lied that the car was never in an accident.
  • Failing to fix your car after you purchased a warranty. For example, you purchased a warranty when you bought the car and you pay for repairs after having mechanical issues. Now the dealership or the warranty won't refund you for the money you spent fixing the car.
  • Failure to refund you. For example, if you cancelled an extended warranty you purchase and the dealership agreed to refund you but never did.
  • Failure to give you the title documents. For example, you purchased a car but the car dealership didn't provide you with the title documents to the car.

California DMV Car Buyer's Bill of Rights. The DMV publishes a guide on common issues with car dealerships here are some of the topics covered (1) required disclosures car dealerships are supposed to provide you with, (2) using the word "certified" when selling a used car, (3) buying a used car and the option to cancel the contract within 2 days.  

What to do before suing Carvana in small claims court

Contact Carvana's Customer Service

Call Carvana's customer service number 1-800-333-4554 and have them troubleshoot your problem.

Consider filing a complaint against Carvana with the DMV

  1. Prepare the DMV complaint form.
  2. Create an evidence packet to attach to the complaint form. For example, any contracts, receipts, disclosures, warranties, checks, pictures, etc. that are relevant to the DMV complaint you are filing against Carvana. We can create an evidence packet for you!
  3. Mail the complaint and the evidence packet to the closest DMV investigations office to where you are located or to their Sacramento office. You can find a list of DMV investigative offices on the second page of the DMV complaint form.

Consider filing a complaint with the BBB against Carvana

The Better Business Bureau may be able to help you with your complaint against Carvana. Here is how you can file a BBB complaint against Carvana.

Make sure to also review complaints other customers have filed against Carvana with the BBB (review Carvana's BBB complaints here). This will help you learn whether Carvana responds to BBB complaints.

Did you purchase a warranty from Carvana?

When buying a car from Carvana, you may have purchased a warranty from one of their providers (the most common is SilverRock). If the issue you are having with the car falls under the warranty from SilverRock, make sure to reach out to SilverRock.

Here is how you can reach out to SilverRock:

SilverRock's Address:

SilverRock Automotive, Inc.

1720 W. Rio Salado Pkwy

Tempe, AZ 85281

SilverRock's Customer Service Phone Number: (877) 584-3848

Make sure to review complaints other customers have filed against SilverRock with the BBB (review SilverRick's BBB complaints here). The Better Business Bureau may be able to help you with your complaint against SilverRock. Here is how you can file a BBB complaint against SilverRock.

Send a Demand Letter

A demand letter is a letter that outlines a set of requests. For example, you could request a refund and explain why you are requesting a refund.  

If you eventually decide to sue in California small claims court, you are required to first request your money or property back before you can file the lawsuit. While you can request your money or property back orally, it is recommended you do so in writing in the form of a demand letter.

What to include in the demand letter?

Unsure of what to include in your demand letter to Carvana:

  • How much money you are owed.
  • Why you are owed money.
  • Your contact information.
  • Where to send payment.
  • Give them a few days to respond (usually about 7 to 14 days).
  • State that if they don't respond, you intend to sue.

Where to mail the demand letter to?

Carvana, LLC

1930 W Rio Salado Pkwy

Tempe, AZ 85281

You can also mail a copy of the letter to Carvana's agent in California:

CSC- Lawyers Incorporating Service

2710 Gateway Oaks Drive

Suite 150N

Sacramento, CA 95833

Make sure to always verify this information by reviewing the California Secretary of State's website as this information may change. Learn how here.

If Carvana ignores your demand letter, what is the next step? You may be able to sue Carvana in a small claims court. Make sure to review any contracts you have received from Carvana. While there may be a forced arbitration clause, many times there is an exception for small claims lawsuits.

How much does it cost to sue Carvana in small claims?

So how much are you going to spend by suing Carvana in small claims court?

Court Filing Fees

The amount you will pay to file a small claims lawsuit in California depends on how much you are suing Carvana for. You will pay between $30 to $75 to file the lawsuit. If you cannot afford to pay court fees, you can ask the court to waive the fees.  

Serving Costs

Once the lawsuit is filed, you have to notify Carvana that you have sued them. This is called "serving." Serving Costs can range from $0-$75.

More on who to serve on behalf of Carvana below. If you win, you can request that Carvana pay for your court fees and serving costs.

How much can you sue Carvana for in small claims?

In California, you can sue Carvana for a maximum of $10,000 if you are an individual. If you are a business suing Carvana, you can sue for a maximum of $5,000. Note, if you are a sole proprietor, you count as an individual.

By suing in small claims you are agreeing to waive any amount over the maximum amount you can sue for, even if you are owed more. For example, if  Carvana owes you $12,000, and you decide to sue in small claims, you are waiving suing for an additional $2,000. Meaning that you will win a maximum of $10,000.

While you may be missing out on the full amount you are owed, there are practical benefits to suing in small claims instead of suing in "regular court."

Here are some of the benefits:

  1. Court filing fees are cheaper in small claims than in other courts.
  2. The process is faster in small claims than in other courts as your hearing will usually be scheduled 30-70 days after you file the lawsuit.
  3. Lawyers are generally not allowed in small claims which helps keep the costs of suing low.  

You can also speak to a lawyer if you think Carvana may owe you a lot more than the small claims limit. Most consumer fraud lawyers will provide you with a free consultation to determine if they can take your case. Reach out to us via our chat if you need assistance finding a consumer fraud lawyer.

How to file a small claims lawsuit against Carvana

Step 1: Complete "Plaintiff's Claim and Order to Go to Small Claims Court" (Form SC-100)

Carvana, LLC

1930 W Rio Salado Pkwy

Tempe, AZ 85281

Carvana's agent for service of process in California:

CSC- Lawyers Incorporating Service

2710 Gateway Oaks Drive

Suite 150N

Sacramento, CA 95833

Make sure to always verify this information by reviewing the California Secretary of State's website as this information may change. Learn how here.

Step 2: File "Plaintiff's Claim and Order to Go to Small Claims Court"

Each California Small Claims Court has a different procedure for filing. You have to check with your local small claims court whether they allow filing in-person, by mail, online, or by fax. Or we can file your case for you!

Step 3: Serve the lawsuit on Carvana's agent

Remember, you will be serving Carvana's "agent for service of process" as listed on the California Secretary of State's website. Learn more here.

Agent for Service of Process:

CSC- Lawyers Incorporating Service

2710 Gateway Oaks Drive

Suite 150N

Sacramento, CA 95833

Make sure to always verify this information by reviewing the California Secretary of State's website as this information may change. Learn how here.

What is a small claims court hearing like?

Small claims hearings in California small claims are informal and most hearings last around 15 minutes. While many disputes settle before the hearing, here is what to expect if your lawsuit does not settle.

Who will represent Carvana at the hearing?

  • The easiest way to answer this question is that a lawyer will not be representing Carvana since lawyers cannot represent parties at the initial small claims hearing. They will have a non-attorney representative.

The hearing:

  • Right before the hearing, the judge will ask you and Carvana's representative to show each other the evidence that you will later show the judge.
  • The judge will ask you why you are suing.
  • The judge will ask Carvana's representative to tell them their side of the story.
  • The hearing will last around 15 minutes.
  • The judge will ask you to show them the evidence you brought. Sometimes the judge will keep the evidence. Other times, you will get the evidence right back.
  • Very rarely a judge will tell you whether you won or lost at the hearing. Instead, the judge will tell you that their decision will be mailed to you (usually takes a few weeks to two months or so).
People Clerk helps you with your small claims court lawsuit.

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