Is CarMax Cheaper? Yes, here’s why


If you have spent any time looking to buy a car, you have no doubt become aware of CarMax. The used car retailer has become a prominent leader in the dealership space. But are they worth your business? Is CarMax cheaper?

CarMax is cheaper and more often than not, will provide you with one of the best deals around. One of the most consumer-friendly aspects of CarMax is its upfront, no-haggle pricing. Thanks to its huge inventory of vehicles, they’re able to provide consumers with a wide range of choices at some of the most affordable prices.

You may find other dealers with comparable prices displayed online, but hidden fees and bait-and-switch techniques are not uncommon with traditional car dealerships. CarMax skips the runaround and seeks to provide a leading service.

CarMax car lot

Why Are CarMax Cars So Cheap?

CarMax is able to provide such cheap cars due to its large inventory. The company was able to pass 750,000 used cars through in 2020, a notably terrible year for car buying. At the end of the year, they still had a staggering ~80,000 vehicles in their inventory. Quite simply, the economies of scale allow them to work with slimmer margins. This in turn allows for better deals to be passed down to consumers.

CarMax Benefits

Clay bar car paintwork

Along with great vehicle pricing, CarMax provides additional benefits for its customers.

First is their actual selection. CarMax states that their cars go through a 125+ point inspection process to find any potential issues. Additionally, each car on average gets 15 hours worth of parts changing, refurbishing, and detailing. You may be buying a used car, but it will feel closer to a new one. That’s the CarMax guarantee.

Secondly, there is the Carmax 30 day return policy. As a buyer, you are allowed a 24-hour test drive with any vehicle on the lot. For some, that’s not enough time to get accustomed to a new vehicle. CarMax is willing to give you 30 days and up to 1,500 miles to decide if you like the car. If something is not to your liking the car can be returned for a full refund.

Along with the 30-day return policy, there is also the CarMax 90 day warranty. The warranty is added to each car purchase and will cover any major systems for 90 days or 4,000 miles.

CarMax Extended Warranty

Car repairs

One of the detriments of buying a used car is that you end up with less of the manufacturer’s original warranty. Thankfully, CarMax Maxcare is offered as an alternative to the shortened or already expired original warranty.

CarMax Maxcare can be bought at the time of purchase and can extend up to 5 years or 150,000 miles. The warranty can also be included in your monthly payments to save on the upfront cost. The plan covers a variety of systems such as the engine, transmission, drivetrain, etc. If any issues occur, you can bring your car to either a CarMax location or any RepairPal location.

Maxcare also includes 24/7 roadside assistance as well as rental reimbursement for when you require overnight repairs.

Is CarMax Maxcare Worth It?

Depending on the age and overall reliability of the car, Maxcare might be worth it. If you are buying a newer car with three or four years of the original warranty left, then you are probably safe to forgo MaxCar.

However, if you are buying a notably unreliable model that is passed its warranty period, Maxcare might save you a lot of money and hassle in the long run. CarMax provides a  calculator to give you a better understanding of your possible costs for the service.

CarMax Appraisal Process

The CarMax appraisal process is one of the best things about dealing with CarMax over any other dated dealership. If you want to sell your car, you are offered two options for a CarMax estimate. You can either opt for a quick online process to get your instant CarMax quote, after which you can take it to a CarMax location. Or, you can go in person to get the car appraised the traditional way.

If you need some time to think about it, the CarMax trade-in value that you receive will be valid for seven days. Additionally, you do not need to buy a car from CarMax, they will be happy to just buy your car outright without having it be a trade-in.

Will CarMax Buy My Car?

Chances are good that CarMax will buy your car. While CarMax won’t sell cars with salvage titles, flood damage, or frame damage to their customers, it doesn’t mean they won’t try to sell them off at a dealer auction. Do keep in that if your car has any of those serious issues, then your payout will be drastically affected. Even if your car doesn’t run at all, CarMax might still buy it at a decent price.

CarMax has a short four-question form on its site to help you find the documentation needed to sell your car, depending on your state and car ownership status. For the most part, you will need to bring your ID and title/lien holder information.

Can CarMax Buy My Leased Car?

According to CarMax, there are many cases in which they will be able to buy your leased car. There are some notable exceptions with CarMax not able to purchased cars leased from the following companies:

  • Nissan Motor Acceptance
  • Infiniti Financial Services
  • Honda Finance
  • Southeast Toyota Financial
  • GM Financial
  • Ford Credit
  • Mazda Credit
  • World Omni
  • Volvo Financial
  • Lincoln Credit
  • Acura Financial
  • Hyundai Motor Financial
  • Kia Motor Finance
  • Mercedes-Benz Financial

Will CarMax Buy My Financed Car?

Yes, CarMax will buy your financed car. When you go in to get your vehicle appraised, you will have to bring in the contact information of your lien holder. While your vehicle is being appraised, CarMax will contact the lien holder to facilitate a payoff.

If your appraised value is greater than the payoff amount, great! You will be able to put that money towards another car or just walk away with the cash. However, if you owe more than the car is worth, you will have to pay the difference to CarMax if you wish to proceed with the sale. In a trade-in, this can typically be added to the price of the car allowing for monthly payments.

Before buying any vehicle, it’s always worth investing a few dollars to check the VIN number against a database. An audit with a company like VinAudit (links to VinAudit) will guard against Mileage fraud, Salvage rebuilds, Title washing, and Vin cloning.

Check the Edmunds.com link below to see what Hot deals are on offer right now, but be warned, I sometimes lose an hour or more to all the eye candy on offer.

Car Research and Pricing at Edmunds

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John Cunningham

John Cunningham is an Automotive Technician and writer on Rustyautos.com. I've been a mechanic for over twenty years, I use my knowledge and experience to write articles that help fellow gear-heads with all aspects of classic car ownership, from tires to roof aerials and everything in between.

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