– CarMax –
CarMax offers an easy way to buy and sell a car if you don’t want to do extra work to find a better deal. But is CarMax right for you? This article is here to guide you through.
With an extensive digital inventory and 190 physical locations in 39 states, CarMax is the largest retailer of used cars in the USA.
These physical locations create a unique combination of offline and online inventory, setting CarMax apart—offering both a physical and online way (at a national level)— from its competitors.
The company was created in 1993 by electronics retailer Circuit City with the promise of offering low, no-haggle prices, a wide range of quality certified vehicles, and superior customer service.
In fact, the car buying process at CarMax is designed after a consumer survey the company performed in 1991, while it was a secret project of Circuit City.
Pros & Cons of CarMax?
- Easy-to-use interface for shopping used car inventory
- No-haggle, no-pressure environment
- Wide variety of makes, models, and model years
- seven-day return policy; 90-day or 4,000-mile limited warranty on purchases
- In-house financing available
- Potentially higher prices than private purchase because of the middle man and overhead factors
- may have to pay extra to have a car shipped to your location
- When selling, the offer may be less than you can get in a private sale
- Must visit the store to sell car
How Does CarMax Work?
CarMax is a used car dealer that has a “no-haggle” policy for selling and buying used vehicles. That policy is intended to simplify the process for people who don’t want to spend hours at a dealership dickering over prices.
CarMax has more than 200 physical locations located across the U.S., but you can actually do most of what’s involved in buying or selling a car with CarMax online.
At any given time, CarMax has around 50,000 used cars to choose from, according to the company’s website. So the chances of finding a vehicle that suits your needs are pretty good.
The company also offers you a full week to drive the car to make sure you like it. If you don’t, you can return it for a full refund.
CarMax will also buy your car if it meets its specifications. You can take your vehicle to a CarMax location to have it inspected. And if it passes muster, you’ll get an instant cash offer.
That offer is good for seven days from the time you get it. If you do sell your car to CarMax, you’re under no obligation to buy a car in return.
How to Buy a Car Through CarMax?
CarMax makes it as easy to buy a car as it can get.
Start the process at CarMax.com. You’ll be able to search for the vehicle you want.
You can search by make, model, or keyword. That means you can search for a specific vehicle — a Honda CR-V, say — or a more general category like “Small SUVs.”
Furthermore, this search gives you access to CarMax’s entire inventory. If the specific car that you want isn’t located in your area, CarMax will bring it to you.
Depending on the vehicle’s distance from your location, you may have to pay a transport fee.
If you’re not sure what you’re looking for, you also have the option to browse available vehicles by clicking “Find Your Car.”
Once there, you’ll find plenty of options to filter your search.
Those filtering options include:
- Exterior Color
- Interior Color
- Fuel Efficiency
Once you narrow down your choices and select a vehicle that interests you, you’ll be taken to that car’s profile page.
There, you’ll get an interactive 360-degree view of the actual vehicle in stock, along with multiple photos of the interior.
You’ll also see the car’s Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), which you’ll want to look up to see the vehicle’s history. Meanwhile, you can do that for free.
If you decide you like a vehicle, you can schedule a test drive at the vehicle’s location, purchase it and pick it up at the lot. Or you can buy it and have it shipped to the CarMax location closest to you.
In some cases, CarMax offers delivery to your home. If that’s the case, you’ll see it as an option.
Just remember that if the vehicle you settle on is located some distance from you, you may incur transport costs. If that’s the case, it will be clearly disclosed.
At this point, you’ll also have the option to get pre-approved for financing on your purchase.
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How Do You Sell a Car Through CarMax?
Selling a car through CarMax is a less automated process, but it’s considerably easier than going through a traditional dealer or conducting a private sale.
If you’re interested in selling your vehicle, head here. You’ll find a brief form where you enter your car’s make, model, model year, and mileage.
If CarMax is interested in your vehicle, you’ll get a message like this:
At that point, you can schedule a time to take your vehicle in for an inspection. If CarMax makes you an offer, you’ll have seven days to decide whether you want to accept it.
That weeklong period to decide is a big deal: It lets you shop your car with other dealers like Carvana or even test the private sale waters with a sure-thing offer already in hand.
If you think you might want to accept the CarMax offer right away, you should be prepared with your:
- Keys, fobs, and remotes
- Loan payoff information, if any
- Vehicle title
Some states may require additional documents, but CarMax will alert you to those in advance if applicable.
You are also under no obligation to buy a vehicle from CarMax if you sell them yours.
How Do They Compare to Other Car-Buying Options?
Carvana is another option to buy a car, which is done almost entirely online. You can browse cars online, buy your car without the haggling and then deliver it. Carvana will save you a trip to the lot if you are comfortable buying a car entirely online.
However, if you want to test the car before committing, CarMax is a much more hands-on experience.
CarLotz is a steroid private seller. The company will help plan and list the car for sale, but it’s up to the vendors and buyers to negotiate their own prices and complete the sale.
If you want to play an active role in your car sale, then CarLotz might be for you. But if you like the idea of selling your car without having to participate, CarMax is a better option.
TrueCar uses data collected on previous sales to give buyers an estimate of what they can expect to pay. Once you search around and find the car at the price you want, TrueCar connects customers with trusted dealers to complete the deal.
If you don’t know where to start your research, TrueCar is a good tool for you, but if you’re comfortable doing your own search, then TrueCar won’t help you much.
Built on the promise that you shouldn’t feel hustled or haggled when selling or buying a car, CarMax has spread across the States.
If you’re looking for an easy way to find a “new” ride or sell an old one, then they are definitely worth checking out.
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