Does CarMax Really Work?

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Does CarMax work?CarMax bills itself as the best way to buy a car because they offer no haggle pricing, and their cars go through a rigorous evaluation before being sold. It’s also a place where you can sell your used car, even if you don’t want to buy a new one. But what are real people saying about what it’s like to buy or sell a car with them?

The car buying process can be a real pain, you never know what you’re getting when you buy a car from the owner, or from a random used car sales place. They could be trying to hide any number of problems with the car, or could be trying to take advantage of you on the price. You can do things like check the Kelley Blue Book value on it, or get the CarFax on it, but there’s just no way to fully know if you’re doing the right thing or not, unless you’re a mechanic or a close friends with one.

The Claim
The claims made by CarMax about their car buying experience are that their cars have passed a 125 point inspection before they even make it onto the lot, that they’ll buy your car even if you don’t buy one of theirs, that the prices are set at fair and reasonable points so there’s no haggling involved, that you have 5 days to return your car after you purchase it, that their financing is flexible and transparent, that their salespeople receive fixed commissions, and that

The Hype
There isn’t too much hype being used by CarMax in their advertising, and all of their claims can be easily verified by simply going through with the process and seeing for yourself that they do what they say they’ll do. There are of course some complaints about them, with some saying that they don’t fully inspect the cars as claimed, and of course others complaints about the process itself, but that’s mostly because they move a lot of cars, and when you sell that many of anything you’re going to have some people that don’t like how it all went down.

The Cost
There aren’t any extra costs associated with doing business with CarMax, aside from the fact that they’ll charge slightly higher prices than you might otherwise pay if you were able to negotiate it with a private party.

The Commitment
You’re not being pressured into a sale here, and they give you a 5 day window to see if you made the right choice or not. That’s plenty of cooling off time so you can feel good about the decision you made. If on the 5th day it’s just doesn’t feel right you can take it back in and they’ll undo the transaction. That’s a nice bonus that makes it so you don’t have to fully commit to the purchase until you know you’re satisfied.

There is definitely a need of more used car sales places that want to do business on the up and up and at reasonable prices. That seems to be the case with CarMax and from what we’ve seen they do a good job on delivering on their claims. They really won’t haggle with you on the price, which some savvy negotiators might not like, but others that don’t really like the idea or aren’t really good at negotiating might find soothing.

There’s also the ability to choose a car that’s not on the lot you’re at, and you can look at any car across the country and pay a pretty reasonable fee to have it shipped over. This really widens the net and increases the chances that you’ll find a car that suits your tastes and budget. If you’ve had a bad car buying experience in the past, this may be just the solution for you.

Final CarMax Review

Overall, CarMax is getting our Thumbs Up rating based on the feedback it’s gotten both from actual buyers, and from very experienced car buyers. It’s important to realize that you’re going to be paying a little more for the car than you could if you found the same make and model with the same stats elsewhere, but that seems acceptable when you factor in that you don’t have to worry that you’re getting duped, and you can get a decent price for any vehicle that you’re trading in. By not haggling you are pretty much letting CarMax dictate the price, but when you find a car you like at a price you can live with the rest of the process is smooth sailing.

Our Recommendation
The reason CarMax gets so many people on board with its service is that there are so many instances of used car buyers getting fleeced, or hosed, or otherwise taken advantage of. In many instances you’re basically buying someone else’s problem when you buy a used car directly from the owner. There’s some reason they don’t want it, and they’re just hoping you don’t find out what it is. You can always bring along your own mechanic to inspect the car before you buy it, but are they going to give it a 125 point inspection? Probably not, and there would be even more investigation necessary, like if it had ever been in an accident or a flood. For all of that hassle it just seems to make sense to pay a little more and avoid it all.

What do you think? Does CarMax work or not?

18 Customer Reviews on “Does CarMax Really Work?

  1. I’ve personally bought 3 different cars from them and honestly it was freaky how quick everything went, the financing was simple even with my newer credit as a young kid and here’s what made me wanna comment about them. The last vehicle I purchased was for work, A to B good on fuel so I bought older VW Jetta and all kinds of shit went wrong with electrical within couple months( that model year they ALL did it wasn’t carmax) anyway I didn’t buy extended warranty but still went back explained everything to sales manager it was going to be hundreds outta my pocket in 4 seconds he literally said I’m sorry for your inconvenience but it’s not my problem so get the F- bomb outta here I got customers to swindle!! KIDDING!!! HA HAAAAA.. in no time he got me ride home car was fixed 1000% correctly by next day ZERO CHARGE. They pick only the best of the crop, they inspect the cars inside out CR even states less than 50% of the cars they inspect make it to their lots. So I have nothing but great things to say and I’m a 3 time buyer spaced out roughly 5 years at a time.

  2. We just bought a car in Lynnwood WA, and Carmax are new in our area. I have purchased 7 cars in my life time, for our family, but I have done all the negotiations and deals. Yes Carmax was not the cheapest, as it was about a couple hundred higher than the mid range, and about $800 to $1000 above the cheapest for similar cars. It was also lower than some cars at smaller dealerships that sold luxury cars. We were in and out in less than 2 hrs flat! Very straight forward. All the cars on their lot were newer and very well kept cars. They tell you where they got it, auction, trade in, etc. We got different finance options, and what each one required to get the financing through that bank or lender. The 5 Days of to return the car no questions asked is true. Everything just gets reversed…done. Not that we returned our car, but the person waiting with us in the lobby area returned their car by signing a couple papers, and they were waiting to get their trade in back. They found a car cheaper somewhere else. Bottom line, I have never bought a used car so easily, quickly and confident. I will not buy a used car from anyone else. Yes you may pay a few hundred more, but its way worth it.

  3. This sounds awesome if it’s really legit. Phyllis’ review above has me a bit concerned, though. I wonder if it’s just her franchise, or if this is a company-wide issue. Last time I bought a car, I used (carFax with an ‘f’,’ not the company reviewed here) to get a history report on the vehicle. I thought this was really useful. Maybe you could still do that with the cars for sale here. I’d definitely want to get a true history before buying. My father bought a car from another company and was told that it was only driven by a businessman who used it on the freeway to and from work (yeah right). Anyway, after I got a carfax report done, we found out it had been a rental car previously – the worst thing ever since people tend to be rough on rentals. Anyway, Carmax sounds interesting (as does their 5-day window to change your mind). I’m planning to buy another used car in about 6 months, and I think I’ll give them a try if they’re willing to let me see the VIN number so I can run a carfax history report before buying.

  4. The buying of a used car is never an easy process (or a new one for that matter). Too many people have gotten duped with a lemon. If the place operates as they claim to, then it seems fine to perhaps charge slightly more, provided that all of the cars are fully functional. Phrases like 125 point inspection sound great, but I would like a guarantee of some sort that the car runs well for a certain amount of time. Of course that is hard to do as one never knows how the owner treats the car as to ascertain whether the problem was present before the purchase. I feel like everyone needs to have a mechanic they trust who can inspect the car themselves.

  5. I have a warning about Carmax though I realize that not every one of them operate with the same people either. I went there with a friend that used to work for them. We were looking to buy a value car which are the trade ins that people bring in for a down on the newer used car. I can tell you that what they took us out there to see was a train wreck. Actually, this was less attractive. They were not at all willing to answer a lot of questions about the inspections of the cars and they seemed to be uncomfortable about me test-driving the cars that they claimed were inspected and get this, they wanted no less than 5 grand for most of them. This took nerve, I don’t know about other Carmax but the south Florida one is bad.

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