CarMax Review: Is It a Good Idea To Buy or Sell? (2024) (2024)

CarMax Review

After hundreds of hours of industry research, we gave CarMax an 8.6 out of 10 in our study of the best websites to sell your car online. The car buyer and seller offers an easy process and fast service from start to finish.

CarMax Pros and Cons

Pros

Easy instant online cash offerPays by check on the day of the saleHigh offer values compared to other options

Cons

Requires visiting a CarMax locationNot the best option for junk cars

CarMax Ratings

We looked at industry standing, platform, pricing and financing, support and customer experience to determine CarMax’s overall rating. The table below shows how CarMax performed in each of these categories.

Rating CategoryOur Score*
Industry standing10.0
Platform9.0
Pricing and financing9.1
Support8.3
Customer experience6.8
Overall rating8.6

*Out of 10 points

Is CarMax Good?

Overall, we found that CarMax is a legitimate place to sell your car and overall has a good reputation in the auto industry. The company ranked as one of the best for pricing when buying a used car, offering the top overall selling prices.

Customers agree with the value CarMax offers, according to many who praise the company’s overall value when buying and selling vehicles. Customers specifically noted the great customer service from CarMax representatives. However, our team also found reviews complaining about the selling and buying process taking too long and issues with meeting in person for transactions.

Is CarMax a Good Place To Buy a Car?

CarMax offers a good experience to buy a car and decent pricing compared to other major competitors. Customers’ buying experiences earned CarMax a top spot in our review, due to its platform’s user-friendliness and a large vehicle inventory for consumers to choose from. Customer service is also good, with many support systems in place.

Where CarMax Falls Short With Car Buying

However, with CarMax, you cannot negotiate the price that it quotes you for your vehicle. This means that the price you’re quoted for your vehicle from CarMax is the most the dealership will pay for your vehicle.

Is CarMax a Good Place To Sell a Car?

If you want the best bang for your buck when selling a car, CarMax is a great choice if you choose to sell online or in person. However, this is not the case if you want to sell your scrap car. Hundreds of thousands of customer ratings of the CarMax app particularly focus on the fast and easy process of selling a car. While CarMax’s process relies on its brick-and-mortar locations, detracting from the experience as compared to other online dealers, the company still offers great value.

Where CarMax Falls Short With Car Selling

It’s important to know that you’ll likely not make as much money off your vehicle sale as you would selling it to a private party. The reason why is that the CarMax dealership has to make a profit when it sells your car at an auction or to another party.

CarMax Review: Is It a Good Idea To Buy or Sell? (2024) (4)

Buying a Car From CarMax

Buying a car from CarMax is a relatively straightforward process. Like most online dealers, the company offers an advanced search engine and filters for you to choose from over 50,000 vehicles.

Once you select an option to take a look, similar to Carvana, CarMax offers 360-degree views of its vehicles for you to look at both the interior and exterior. You’ll also be able to see additional details about the previous ownership of the car, features and even videos explaining certain functions.

Options will also be available for you to choose to reserve a test drive, buy and pick up the car or purchase and get delivery — which may or may not be free.

CarMax Buying Process

CarMax has a plethora of cars to sell in its inventory, as it sold over 810,000 used vehicles and 590,000 wholesale cars at auctions during the fiscal year that ended in February 2023. With CarMax’s search filter, you can narrow down your search by make and model, or be as granular as looking at the transmission and drivetrain.

Each option shows the selling price of the car and the mileage. Also, if you’re between two options and can’t decide, CarMax offers a comparison tool where you can compare the specifications of up to six different cars at once.

CarMax Financing

If you choose to finance your car with CarMax, you’ll start by getting a pre-qualified offer through its estimate tool. From there, the company will aggregate lending options from its network that includes auto loan providers such Ally Financial to find you the best car loan rates and terms for you. Then, you’ll receive an offer online and can choose to accept or reject it.

CarMax Payment Calculator

Within the window for looking at an individual car offer, CarMax also offers a car loan payment calculator to find how much car you can afford. When you enter your credit score range, down payment and loan length, you can get an estimate of your auto loan interest rate and monthly payment.

CarMax Warranties

A CarMax limited warranty is included in a purchase, and covers you in case of a mechanical breakdown. Additional options, such as the CarMax MaxCare warranty, may also be purchased as an add-on. This extended car warranty option offers more comprehensive coverage than its included limited warranty, which only covers you up to 30 days or 1,500 miles.

CarMax Trade-In

If you want to trade-in your vehicle before moving forward to purchase, you can do that with CarMax. After you choose a particular car offering and enter your information, you’ll be able to select the trade-in option for your vehicle. You’ll be redirected to wait for your information to be processed before moving forward. You’ll be notified when you can move on through the phone number you provided.

CarMax Return Policy

CarMax’s Love Your Car Guarantee gives you 30 days and up to 1,500 miles to decide if the car you buy is right for you. As long as the condition is consistent with when you purchased it and you’ve driven fewer than 1,500 since your purchase, you can bring it back within 30 days for a refund. Any refunds due back are mailed within two weeks of your return date.

Selling to CarMax

The CarMax car-selling process is similar to other options for selling a car online like Carvana and Vroom. What makes CarMax a bit different is you need to visit a physical location to finalize the deal. CarMax does offer pickup service in select markets, but you’ll need to call your closest CarMax to find out.

CarMax Review: Is It a Good Idea To Buy or Sell? (2024) (5)

How Much Does CarMax Pay for Cars?

In general, CarMax pays more for cars than other companies that purchase used cars. For a 2017 Toyota Camry (SE), CarMax offered $2,031 more than Cars.com and $1,408 more than Carvana. Below you can see how CarMax compares to other companies that purchase vehicles.

VehicleCars.comCarvanaCarMax
2017 Ford F-150 XL$28,988$29,590$27,998
2017 Toyota Camry (SE)$18,967$19,590$20,998
2020 Honda CR-V EX$25,900$27,990$29,998

CarMax Selling Prices vs. Market Value

Our team received CarMax offers of $12,000 for a 2016 Chevy Equinox and $11,400 for a 2017 Kia Sportage. Below, you can see how these offers compare to each vehicle’s KBB trade value.

VehicleCarMax OfferKBB Trade Value
2016 Chevy Equinox with 80,000 miles$12,000$11,119
2017 Kia Sportage with 95,000 miles$11,400$11,135

CarMax vs. Private Party Sale

While CarMax provides good offers, you’ll probably get the most money with a private sale. This is because a dealer needs to make a profit by reselling your car, while a private buyer doesn’t. You can typically set your price slightly higher than the private party market value and expect to negotiate slightly.

However, it takes more time and work to be a private seller. You need to research your car’s value and provide a vehicle history report along with a bill of sale for the buyer. You’ll also have to spend time vetting buyers from Craigslist or whichever platform you choose to use. Depending on the amount of time you want to put in, selling to an online dealer may be the best way to sell a car.

Can You Negotiate With CarMax?

You cannot negotiate with CarMax. The company’s offers are good for seven days. That gives you time to compare offers from other companies and see which one is best. CarMax has a no-haggle policy, which means you can’t negotiate the price.

This can be a benefit, though, because you know you’re getting CarMax’s best rate first instead of a lowball offer. You can still sell your car to CarMax after the seven-day period, but you’ll need to get a new offer.

CarMax Requirements

When it comes to listing requirements, the CarMax selling process is pretty straightforward. You can start the CarMax car-selling process from the comfort of your home by getting an instant offer online. Start by entering your license plate number or vehicle identification number (VIN).

Following this, the system will autofill certain details about your vehicle. Then you’ll provide the following types of information:

  • Style and features: Choose the drive and transmission types. Also, select any features like remote start, leather seats or a sunroof. CarMax automatically selects standard features for your model.
  • Car’s condition: Say whether the car is in excellent, very good, good or fair condition.
  • Mileage: Enter your exact mileage on the odometer.
  • Additional information: CarMax asks 14 more questions regarding the condition and history of the car. You’ll note if the car has rust, hail or flood damage. You’ll also indicate whether there are warning lights or mechanical issues and provide more details if so.

Unlike other car buying sites, you’ll have to visit a physical CarMax location to finish the deal. CarMax has 244 locations nationwide, but there are no locations in Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota or Wyoming. A representative will inspect your car and take it for a quick test drive when you arrive.

Be aware that CarMax’s offers are contingent upon the inspection. So, make sure you disclose the true condition of your vehicle when you get the offer online.

CarMax Lease Buyout

If you have a current auto loan, bring the payoff information from your lender. You can request a payoff amount that is good for 10 days for CarMax to buy your car. If you have a cosigner on the auto loan, they’ll need to provide their signature on the paperwork to sell the car.

Should you owe more than the car is worth, you can pay off the negative equity yourself or finance it under a new vehicle loan with CarMax depending on the amount. However, be careful with the second option, as you’ll probably be underwater on the new loan.

CarMax Customer Satisfaction

CarMax is a legitimate place to sell your car and overall has a good reputation in the auto industry. Its solid industry reputation can make you confident in using its services and trust that it’s a good company.

CarMax Reviews BBB and Trustpilot

CarMax has an A rating from the Better Business Bureau (BBB), which demonstrates its credibility, but low ratings on Trustpilot from around 300 customers. Yet considering CarMax sold nearly 1 million vehicles in 2021, the negative reviews account for a small percentage of customers.

We reached out to CarMax for a comment on its low Trustpilot customer rating and received the following response:

“CarMax is committed to providing iconic customer experiences by driving integrity, honesty and transparency in every interaction. If a customer’s experience is anything less than exceptional, we encourage them to reach out to our Customer Relations team so we can determine how to best assist.”

CarMax App Reviews

CarMax app reviews overall are very positive. The application has 4.8 out of 5 stars on Apple’s App Store and a 3.4 out of 5 on Google Play. The positive reviews focus on the buying program offered by the company, with great tools to sell or buy used cars.

However, the Google Play app has lower ratings due to the app not being updated. Users reported many bugs, issues with the filtering system and an overall confusing user experience. Until the Google Play app version is updated, it may be easier to get service on the CarMax website.

Reviews of CarMax: The Bottom Line

Overall, CarMax is a great option to sell or buy a car if you live near one of its locations. You can get a good valuation for your car and walk away with a check on the same day. Selling and buying from CarMax is easy in our experience. That said, it’s possible another dealer may offer a better deal for cars depending on the situation. Compare multiple car-buying apps and sites to find the best option.

Sites Like CarMax

Other than CarMax, our top picks for selling your car include Cars.com and Carvana.

Cars.com: Editor’s Choice

Cars.com has it all: an easy-to-use platform, decent cash offers and an option to sell your car privately. The car buying website works with hundreds of dealerships across the country, so you can get an instant offer and then get payment from a local dealer. When you use Cars.com to sell your car, you also have the option to trade your car in at the dealer.

Read more on our complete Cars.com review.

Carvana: Most Seamless Process

Carvana is another great option for selling your car. Carvana offers a hands-off process that can happen entirely online and at your home. After you accept a cash offer, Carvana will send a representative to inspect your vehicle and pick it up from your home. That means you can sell your car to Carvana without leaving your driveway.

Learn more details on our comprehensive Carvana review.

CarMax: FAQ

Below are some frequently asked questions about selling or buying a car with CarMax:

CarMax is a company with a good reputation among customers and industry organizations like the Better Business Bureau (BBB). The company maintains an A rating with the BBB, which means it responds to customer complaints quickly and conducts business in a legitimate manner.

CarMax checks a vehicle’s history report and does a full 125+ point inspection of the vehicle before selling to the public. It looks for things such as scratch damage, dents, flood damages, broken/damaged parts and more. If a car doesn’t meet CarMax’s clean title guarantee guidelines, the car cannot be sold.

CarMax pays by bank draft immediately when you sign the papers to sell your car. This is a type of certified check that needs to be deposited into a bank account — not cashed elsewhere.

CarMax has a no-haggle offer policy, so you can’t negotiate with the company to sell your car. The first offer is the best offer you’ll get for your car.

CarMax doesn’t have a set restriction on vehicle age, so it may buy very old cars if the condition is right. However, CarMax isn’t a junk car buyer. If you want to sell a scrap car, we recommend checking out Peddle or Copart instead.

An offer from CarMax lasts for seven days for both online and offline offers. Once you bring your car to a location to be inspected and verify its details, you’ll be able to go home with the cash the company promised.

All vehicles that CarMax sells come with a 30-day/1,500-mile money-back guarantee. It’s called the Love Your Car guarantee. You can get a full refund for the vehicle during that time if you change your mind. CarMax will mail you a check within two weeks for the full price of the vehicle if you paid cash.

While there is no specific date for how long a CarMax location can hold your car, you can generally expect it to be held for at least a week. However, this depends on the location and if there are already additional buyers who are willing to purchase.

According to CarMax, the car’s title transfer may take up to 60 days but will most likely arrive sooner. If you have waited longer than this, contact CarMax’s customer service department.

You can contact CarMax’s customer service at (866) 629-3677.

CarMax headquarters is located in Richmond, Va., at 12800 Tuckahoe Creek Pkwy, 23238.

Our Methodology

Because consumers rely on us to provide objective and accurate information, we created a comprehensive rating system to formulate our rankings of the best platforms to sell your car. We collected data on several providers to grade each company in five key areas. The end result was an overall rating for each provider, with the car selling platforms that scored the most points topping the list.

Here are the factors our ratings take into account:

  • Industry Standing: Our research team considers ratings from industry experts and years in business when determining this score.
  • Platform: Platforms that offer a variety of features, including instant offers and multiple sales options, are more likely to meet consumers’ needs.
  • Cost: To compare providers’ average offer prices, our team conducted a secret shopper analysis for a variety of vehicle types. We also considered the fees companies charge to use their platforms.
  • Support: Car selling companies that offer strong transaction support received the highest scores in this category. This includes offerings like free pickup service as well as how quickly you receive your payment.
  • Customer Experience: This score is based on customer satisfaction ratings on the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and Trustpilot as well as our team’s experience reaching out to each platform.

*Data accurate at time of publication.

If you have feedback or questions about this article, please email the MarketWatch Guides team ateditors@marketwatchguides.com.

CarMax Review: Is It a Good Idea To Buy or Sell? (2024) (9)

Daniel RobinsonWriter

Daniel Robinson is a writer based in Greenville, N.C. with expertise in auto insurance, loans, warranty options and more. Away from the keyboard, Daniel spends time with his wife and son, plays guitar and obsesses over the Beatles and Baltimore Orioles.

CarMax Review: Is It a Good Idea To Buy or Sell? (2024) (10)

Rashawn MitchnerManaging Editor

RaShawn Mitchner is a MarketWatch Guides team senior editor covering personal finance topics and insurance. She’s spent over a decade writing and editing articles about how to save money on things including travel, entertainment and household services.

CarMax Review: Is It a Good Idea To Buy or Sell? (2024) (2024)

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