Buying a Car from CarMax

Written on:December 1, 2009
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carmax signCarmax is an one-price car dealer that allows you to purchase vehicles with no haggling. The company policy requires that dealers offer one set price so there is no bargaining or bidding involved.

Shopping for a car with them is almost as easy as buying smaller ticket items at a department store. The disadvantage to the no-haggling policy is that if you find something you like and suspect there’s a better price elsewhere, there is no chance in getting them to the lower the price.  There are a few things to keep in mind when buying a car from them….

Carmax will also buy used cars even if you are not purchasing a car yourself from the dealer. The same caveat about their “no haggle” policy applies…you may not get the best price you can from them, but it will be an easy experience. Every vehicle available for sale must pass a 125-point quality inspection before they are sold. The Carmax quality inspection policy is intended to ensure consumers that the vehicle they purchase is in good condition, and not a flood damaged or otherwise problematic vehicle.

The transfer process
If you want to purchase a vehicle that is not in your local area, Carmax can transfer the car to the store nearest to your location. You simply contact a company Sales Consultant and let them know which vehicle you are interested in buying.

After you have arranged financing and/or a trade-in, the Sales Consultant will arrange for the vehicle’s shipment to the nearest store.  Note however, that this transfer fee is not refundable.  If you change your mind, you could be out anywhere from $150 to $850 depending on how far away the transfer location is.

Other Benefits

In addition to offering quality inspections of cars sold on their site, Carmax also provides customers with free vehicle history reports, a 30-day warranty and a 5-day money-back guarantee. Each car comes with a Clean Title Guarantee that ensures that the mileage is correct and that it has not been salvaged or flood-damaged.

Carmax compared to other dealers
One of the primary advantages of Carmax in comparison to buying a car from a private seller is that the company offers many forms of consumer protection. The car history, inspection, warranty and money-back guarantee will generally not be available when you buy directly from a private seller.

Compared to traditional car dealers, you will likely need to purchase a car if you want the dealer to buy your own car. At Carmax, they do not require you to make any purchase when selling your car. However, they will offer you the same price that they would if you were buying a car from them.

A traditional dealer can spend a lot of time and energy haggling with you over price. In some cases, this can help you get a good deal, but often you will be wasting your time. There is really no way for you to know whether you can get the dealer to lower their price.  Of course, the tradeoff is that CarMax prices their cars such that they make a reasonable, and sometimes more than reasonable profit on each sale.

At Carmax, everything is laid out plain and simple, and you can decide right there whether you want to buy the car or not.

At traditional dealers, you really need to take care to ensure that you get the best value for your money. Consumer Reports has a good guide that helps you maneuver through the process of buying a new car at a traditional dealership at

Since Carmax sells cars at set prices, it takes extra steps to ensure customers that they are getting a good offer. In this way, there is less chance of getting a raw deal as often happens at traditional dealers. The company has built a reputation for offering haggle-free cars at fair prices. If you like what you see, you simply sign the contract, make your payment and drive the car away.

Finding Carmax dealers
One of the quickest and easiest ways to find a Carmax dealer near you is through the major search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing. Google, in particular, has local business listings through Google Places and Google Maps. Just type in “Carmax” together with your location as part of the search query.

Carmax dealers are located throughout the United States and you should be able to find a dealership fairly close to your area. In addition to using a search engine, you can also find a “Dealer Locator” on the Carmax website.

Carmax also makes it easy for consumers to search for cars online at their website. You can search through an inventory of around 30,000 cars by make, vehicle type, model, price, features and fuel economy. The website also has a search engine that lets you find which one of their 100+ stores is nearest to your location.

3 Comments add one

  1. Former_Employee says:

    CarMax has a process called ACR (Appraisal Cost Recovery), where the buyers appraise the vehicle for, lets say, $20,000. Well, the computer spits out an offer to buy between $18,000-$19,000. The customer never knows this has happened. So, basically they just acquired the vehicle 1-2 grand below market value. This is just one way the company is misleading the consumer.

  2. Kurt says:

    I hate CarMax. My girlfriend just sold her car to them and the guy we dealt with was completely unprofessional. He was completely rude and kept making moronic off-color jokes. I truly feel sorry for his wife (if he has one) and any family members that he may have.

  3. Kurt says:

    It probably needs not be said…but we did NOT get a fair price.

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