A man stands outside a carmax dealership to see if he can get paid for his old car

Selling a Car to CarMax: Good Deal or Not?

Milad Hassibi December 13, 2018

If you are looking to sell or trade in your car, you may have considered taking your car to CarMax. CarMax is a national chain of car dealerships superstores that “aim” to give a better buying and selling experience to customers.

But how does selling or trading in a car at CarMax work? Although CarMax is a quick and easy way to sell a car, you will walk out with much less money than if you were to sell your car in other ways.

Selling a Car to CarMax

A carmax car salesman holds a wad of cash for a persons old mercedes

Anytime you to sell or trade in your car to a dealership, they will attempt to buy it at the lowest price possible. Being the large chain that they are, CarMax offers sellers some of the lowest prices on their vehicles in comparison to other dealerships.First, consumers must drive to the CarMax dealership for an appraisal. Preparing your car for the appraisal process may help you obtain more favorable pricing.

In more crowded locations, you may be required to wait for several hours before an appraiser can provide you a quote. Often times, there is a line of consumers also waiting to get an appraisal on their car.

Here is a real-life example. A friend took in their 2014 Ford Focus ST in near mint condition to CarMax for an appraisal. Although the KBB value of the car was over $14,500, CarMax only offered $10,300 for the vehicle, a staggering $4,200 less than the fair market value.

The CarMax appraiser did not bother to test-drive the car either to check for engine condition.

Next, a small used car dealership offered him $12,200 for the same vehicle, which was $1,700 more than CarMax had offered.

In the end, the friend rejected all of the offers and sold his car on Craigslist one week later for $13,900, $2,400 more than he would have received from CarMax.

If you do not want to deal with selling a car in-person, be sure to get appraisals from multiple dealerships on the value of your car. You can also use the appraisals to your advantage when negotiating with the appraiser.

Contrary to popular belief, you may get a higher price for your car at a small used car dealership rather than at a large chain like CarMax.

Selling your car yourself on sites like AutoTrader or Craigslist will allow you to collect a much higher price for your car than bringing it into CarMax. Be sure to also find the fair market value of your vehicle by using tools such as KBB or looking up comparable vehicles on Craigslist and Autotrader.

Although you may have to spend 2-3 hours of work listing the car and talking to prospective buyers, it’s well worth the thousands in extra cash you will receive when you sell the car.

Final Note

CarMax is a great option for consumers who need to sell their car today. However, if you have a few days of time, listing your car yourself could bring you thousands more than trading in or selling your car at CarMax.

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