No, this is not an advertisement per se and certainly not any sort of compensated endorsement. It is merely something for me to relate to anyone (male or female) who hates the ritual of car buying. I do know people who revel in that process and I once took a friend with me after I expressed reluctance to buy a new car. He genuinely enjoyed the back-and-forth, “Well, let me check with the manager” crap that I detest. I was grateful for his help and annoyed that there wasn’t an easier way to do it.
A number of years ago, a friend told me about their experience with Carmax and when we were in Puerto Rico and our son was in Northern VA, I was concerned with the age of his car. I gave him the dollar limit he had to work with and suggested he try Carmax. They couldn’t have treated him better and so when it was time for me to get another car upon our return from PR, I had already been searching their web site. One of the many good things about them is their inventory changes daily and you can go in and specify the type of car you are looking for. If they don’t have the one you want in a particular location, they will bring it in using zones for shipping price. Nearby zones have zero cost and then they expand all the way across the country. As with everything else about Carmax though the price is clearly shown and that is the price. No surprises, no haggling. When you are on line, you can narrow the seach by price, and number of miles on the car as well as make, model, or type. Carmax does sell some new cars (mostly Toyotas) at some locations, but they primarily have previously owned cars.
If you have a car to trade, they will give you as good a price as you are likely to get anywhere – again, they tell you the price they will pay and that’s it. The trade-in value doesn’t change the longer you talk. Since I didn’t have a trade-in, I basically bought the car on-line (a make and model I was familiar with). We flew into Atlanta where my sister-in-law and her husband picked us up. The Carmax was close by. We arrived, the car was ready. Did we want the extended warranty? No? Did we want Lo-Jack? Yes. Okay, they took my husband’s mother’s address so they could have a technician come to her house to do the installation. Sign paperwork, give them a check, take car. That was it. The extended warranty and Lo-Jack are the only options they offer. Their dealer price of $149 (I think it’s $199 now, maybe a little higher) is clearly shown as the only addition to the price of the car. No endless list of services to be pitched, no trying to wear you down with why you ought to have something else added. We weren’t doing financing, but their financing process seemed fairly quick from what I saw going on around us.
Between us and our son, we have purchased five vehicles through Carmax. While you can go on-line as I usually do, you can also go to a location and wander as you wish with no pressure. Again, one of the primary differences in Carmax is that when you look at a sticker price, it is what you get, although tax and title are not shown. If a car price is shown for let’s say $21,099, the $199 Carmax addition is shown for a purchase price of $21,298 and then tax and title costs that vary by state/municipality. They will even tell you the percentage of that before hand if you ask so you can do the calculation yourself if you wish.
When we left the Carmax in Atlanta, my brother-in-law was impressed. My sister-in-law was too, but she said that no, she enjoyed the traditional haggling. And yes, if you want a brand new car they are probably not a good option. On the other hand, if you are in the market for a previously owned one and you are near a Carmax, at least check out their web site.