CarMax Review 2021: What To Know Before You Buy or Sell

GOBankingRates Score

4.0
Quick Take: Buying or selling a car through CarMax works for people who do not want to deal with the added effort of haggling or going to private sales. Moreover, CarMax has a massive variety of cars, giving you a more comprehensive selection, especially if your plan to trade or sell your car on your own falls through. While the pricing and variety live up to most people's standards, CarMax reviews show that the customer experience has been getting poorer over the years. Thus, the quality of service and satisfaction you receive comes down to the staff at your local CarMax.
  • Guarantee and Inspection
    5.0
  • Variety
    4.5
  • Pricing
    3.5
  • Customer Experience
    3.0
How did we calculate this?

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Expansive inventory of used cars
  • No-haggle pricing
  • In-house financing
  • 24-hour test drive available

Cons

  • Prices tend to be higher than the competition due to overhead costs and middleman involvement
  • Extra fees for getting the car transferred to your location
  • Unfavorable reviews of customer experience

What Is CarMax?

CarMax is a car dealer that specializes in selling and buying used cars. The dealer transformed car buying and selling with their “no-haggle” pricing.

The company’s mission is to provide an iconic customer experience and innovation through offering no-haggle pricing. To date, CarMax has more than 220 stores in over 41 states with 27,000 employees and 45,000 certified cars.

They have also sold over 10 million cars and bought a similar number of vehicles. Although the most popularly known services of CarMax are buying and selling cars, the company also has other services:

  • CarMax Auctions: Every week, CarMax auctions thousands of cars in all its locations to car dealers, with a 97% to 100% sales rate.
  • CarMax Auto Finance: The company also offers in-house financing that millions of buyers have benefitted from.
  • CarMax Service: With its service centers spread around the country and partnership with RepairPal, the company ensures its customers’ cars run smoothly.
  • CarMax Foundation: The CarMax Foundation supports different causes and has donated over $75 million to better the community.

Typically, most customers head to CarMax for their selling and buying services.

Selling

CarMax claims only to sell the best cars. They ensure this through the following inspections and quality checks.

  • Careful Selection: CarMax has a vetting process that the company uses to accept cars. The company claims never to sell vehicles that have salvage history, frame damage or flood damage.
  • 125+ Details: CarMax maintains a certain standard for its vehicles by checking more than 125 details. If a car has an outdated component or is damaged, the company’s trained technicians replace or repair it accordingly.
  • Certified Quality: According to CarMax, the company’s experts spend 15 hours checking a single car, fixing its dents, repairing parts and removing scratches. In doing so, they aspire to make the car as good as new. The quality check concludes with a final inspection.

With nearly 50,000 certified cars, CarMax claims there’s always a car for your budget and preferences.

Buying

The process for buying a car from CarMax is also quite streamlined, with the following features:

  • 24-Hour Test Drives: Interested buyers can take the car home for the day and test drive it to decide if they want to buy it.
  • No Haggling: Unlike dealerships or private sales, you do not have to haggle. You get the price that is listed on the website.
  • Expert Service: CarMax hires more than 1,750 ASE-certified mechanics for servicing the cars before they are bought or sold.
  • Customized Support: Whether you’re a pro or it’s your first car, custom support is available, making it easier for everyone to buy a car best suited for them. However, many customers report mixed experiences with CarMax support.

What Are Some of CarMax’s Strengths?

Here are some notable strengths of CarMax:

  • Investment Protection: Your investment is protected by the MaxCare provided by the company. It’s an extended service that offers roadside assistance and service plans for years to come.
  • Car History: When buying a car, you will get a free Autocheck history to give you an insight into what the vehicle has been through.
  • 30-Day Guarantee: Buyers get a 30-day or 1500 mile guarantee, whichever comes first. If you do not like the car during this period, bring it back to the company for a refund.
  • 90-Day Warranty: Moreover, CarMax covers all major car systems for 4,000 miles or 90 days, whichever comes first.
  • Transparent Pricing: Customers have the opportunity to purchase a vehicle either online or by visiting the store. CarMax offers many different delivery options, such as home delivery, CarMax Curbside and by visiting a location near to you.
  • Extensive Inventory: Since they get hundreds of cars every week, CarMax has a ton of options for buyers to choose from. Whichever model, make, or year you’re looking for, you’ll likely find it here.

What Are CarMax’s Weaknesses?

Here are some shortcomings of CarMax:

  • Higher Prices: No haggling has its downsides. Even if you see a similarly priced model elsewhere, CarMax’s sticker price is set.
  • Transfer Fees: CarMax can ship their vehicles to any CarMax location that is local to you, without charging a transfer fee. However, there are some transfers that may require a fee, which is disclosed to the buyer upfront. Fees can range between $99 to $999, and in some cases up to $1999.
  • Lower Offer for Sellers: As a seller, you might get a lower offer from CarMax than you would in a private sale.
  • Customer Service: CarMax reviews reflect poorly on its ability to satisfy customers. The company has an unfavorably low rating of 1.8 on Trustpilot.

Is It Right for You?

CarMax is the right choice for you if you prefer selecting your next car online without the haggling and intend to get roadside assistance or a car service plan. But if you are on a tight budget and don’t live near a CarMax location, it’s best to shop elsewhere.

As for sellers, a private sale will give you a higher price but lower convenience, while the opposite applies to CarMax. So, it comes down to your priorities.

This story was updated Sep. 27, 2021 to clarify CarMax’s stance on pricing, transfer fees, approach to store visits, and the number of employees and cars sold.

About the Author

Scott Jeffries is a seasoned technology professional based in Florida. He writes on the topics of business, technology, digital marketing and personal finance. After earning his bachelor’s in Management Information Systems with a minor in Business, Scott spent 15 years working in technology. He's helped startups to Fortune 100 companies bring software products to life. When he's not writing or building software, Scott can be found reading or spending time outside with his kids.

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