Should You Buy a Car Through CarMax?

Rust buckets, over-sized purses, methods of transportation, and a means of showing worth and status. Maybe it’s needless to say, but there isn’t a topic I detest more. I think about used car salesmen and I think about the gazillion dollars I spent on car repairs last year. I think about the millions of people that believe you shouldn’t drive a car more than 100,000 miles because it’s “cheaper” to buy a NEW one. Sigh.

Picture by

Well, It’s Time for Us to Buy a “New” Car!

After years of driving dumpsters disguised as old cars, my wife and I recently decided it was time to take the plunge and buy a new-to-us car. If you knew us well, then you’d know that this decision didn’t come lightly (for all of the reasons I stated at the start of this post).

After spending a few thousand dollars (in 2011) on car repairs for our ’99 Nissan Altima (which had 170,000 miles on it), we had been told that there was another $1500-$2000 of work that NEEDED to be done to it.

That was $1500 more than we were willing to spend.

Why We Looked at CarMax first

Truthfully, we didn’t start at CarMax. Instead we spent hours and hours researching the vehicle that was going to give us the best bang for our buck. After searching through Kelley Blue Book, Edmunds, and Consumer Reports, we eventually narrowed our selection down to a few cars we felt that would fit our needs (mainly running for the next 10 years and far-surpassing 200,000 miles).

After our research was complete, we visited our local CarMax center and looked through the selection they had available.

The thing that intrigued us most about CarMax was that they have the majority of makes and models that are available (at least the types we’re interested in).

This means that instead of the having to travel to 4 or 5 different dealerships to test-drive cars, we were able to get all of our “shopping” done in one, easy, hassle-free visit!

What are Some of the Pros to Shopping at CarMax?

  • No Haggle Pricing: I acknowledge that I’m a stubborn guy, so I didn’t really believe this whole “no haggle pricing” deal…but let me be the first to tell you, it’s true!I spent quite a bit of time trying to beat up our “sales” woman. I got so annoying that my wife got upset with me.I couldn’t believe they really didn’t drop their prices! I mean come on, we were going to pay CASH!!
  • No Pressure & No “Used-Car” Salesmen/women: While the no haggle pricing is a little annoying, it also comes with an extremely wonderful upside: they don’t try to pressure you to buy!I mentioned at the start of this post that I dislike used-car salesmen (in-fact, I despise all sales people that act like the typical “salesmen”), so CarMax provided a terrific setting for my wife and I.We were able to test drive each car that we were interested in with absolutely no sales pitches and annoying chatter in my ear!
  • Their Cars Have Passed a 125 Point Inspection: The primary reason Carmax is able to stand by their price is because they very-much believe in the products (cars) that they’re selling.Their cars are reliable, well-maintained, and CarMax believes you won’t find any better quality out in the market.
  • CarMax offers a 5-Day Money-Back Guarantee: Another benefit that we found intriguing was that CarMax will basically let you test-drive the car for 5 days after you buy it.Of course you have to buy it first, but if you end up not liking it, or if you get it inspected by your mechanic and something proves to be troublesome, then you can take it back without being charged!

Two Things We Didn’t Like About CarMax

Frankly, there simply weren’t many but if I had to list some, here are a few:

  • Their Prices are High: I wouldn’t say the prices are completely out of line, but there is little doubt that they’re proud of their cars (and they probably have good reason for that).If you’re looking for the best bargain out there then I would say CarMax isn’t your place (unless you want to test-drive a bunch of cars!), however if you’re looking for quality and don’t want to have to worry if your car is going to break down in 12 months, then you might be okay with the premium.
  • Their “Cheaper” Cars Still have 90,000+ Miles: The unfortunate reality of cars (and one of the reasons I hate them) is that if you want something with less than 50,000 miles on it, then you better be ready to spend $15,000 or more!That is true of course unless you want to look at a Kia or an extremely “economical” vehicle. However, we ruled out the compacts early because I’m 6’4″…there is no chance I’m driving in a Nissan Versa, Toyota Corolla, or Honda Civic.So, considering most CarMax cars come at a premium, they really don’t have any good low-mileage cars that are under $10,000.

While we didn’t end up buying our car from CarMax, our experience with them couldn’t have gone better. We were able to drive a myriad of cars that we had preselected, AND we were able to do so without being bothered or hassled.

Depending on your budget, I’d highly encourage you to consider visiting CarMax — regardless of if you’re seriously considering buying it from there!

Picture by M – Pics.

About the Author

By , on Apr 26, 2012
Andy Tenton
Andy is a 30-something New Yorker who turned his financial life around. He took charge of his finances, got out of debt, and is now working his way toward financial success. He is the publisher of

How to Become Rich e-Course

Budgeting 101


  1. Walter Alvarado says:

    I purchased a car from carmax and really enjoy my visit. Did I over pay maybe but the quality and experience for me was worth the premium. At the end of the day ive been to both the traditional dealers and carmax personaly i hate the b.s back and forth and so much time wasted. once im due for a car again odds are I will buy at carmax.

  2. Maurie Deming says:

    I went to CARMAX on the advice of a friend. They have a nice show room and a bunch of cars. I was interested in a 2012 Honda Accord with 10000 miles@ $ 22000. I also called the local Honda dealer and was advised he could match their price on a NEW 2013 Accord.. I didn’t think he could do it but set up an appointment with the Honda dealer AFTER I met with CARMAX.

    The meeting with CARMAX was ok and I was up front with them about my meeting with Honda. The CARMAX salesman spent a good deal of my time telling me why buying from the Honda dealer was wrong. Hidden fees, and if I used a credit card they would charge an additional fee for that BUT everything was included in the CARMAX price.etc,etc. CARMAX doesn’t take a credit card.

    Bottom line I bought a NEW 2013 Accord for $270 dollars more than the CARMAX deal and was able to put a portion on Amex at no extra charge. Brand new, no miles or possible bad history and very well treated. Look before you leap

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Disclaimer and Stuff

The articles are written by personal finance enthusiasts (not certified professionals) based on their personal experience. What works for them may or may not work for you, and you should always consult a financial advisor before making important financial decisions.

In accordance with FTC guidelines, we disclose that we have a financial relationship with companies mentioned in this website. This may include receiving access to free products and services for product and service reviews and giveaways.

Any references to third party products, rates, or websites are subject to change without notice. We do our best to maintain current information, but due to the rapidly changing environment, some information may have changed since it was published. Please do the appropriate research before participating in any third party offers.

For additional information, please review our legal disclaimers and privacy policy.