Is CarMax The Right Choice For A Used Car?

CarMax photoIs CarMax The Right Choice For A Used Car?

I recently discovered that CarMax has opened shop in my local area and after seeing all the commercials, I wanted to see for myself if what they claim is really true. They have a no haggle policy, they only sell excellent pre-owned vehicles, and they offer a 125 point inspection and flexible financing. The vehicles they offer for sale are not older than 6 years from what I discovered.
Since I was curious and had some free time, I decided to head down one afternoon to check it out. The car lot of pre-owned vehicles was extremely well groomed as were their cars, clean and ready for a new owner like a rescue shelter for adopted animals. I was greeted by a very pleasant salesperson within a reasonable amount of time after my arrival. I really was not in the market for another used car, especially since I own a fleet of classic vehicles that fills up every square feet of my garage space. Buying another car for me is like needing a hole in my head. But I wanted to experience what CarMax had to offer.

I walked the lot and notice the pricing on every vehicle appeared to be within the price range of Kelly Blue Book and Edmonds, which sometimes can be way off from each other. If you think you are going to haggle on pricing, think again. The price on the sticker is the price you will pay. There is no pressure on buying, but as I am sure you a aware, if you are on their lot, they will do everything they can to convince you to purchase today. Afterall, you came to them. They will give you the speech on their 5 day return policy,  if you are not happy with the newly purchased pre-owner vehicle that took you a few hours to seal the deal, you can return it for a full refund. Most people do not have remorse until at least 30 days after purchase. So be sure that the car you are purchasing is the right one for you. This is the next largest purchase you can make next to purchasing a home.

There was every variety of automobile available for sale on their lot and within their network. If they do not have the exact car you are in the market for, you can search their network of other locations and if you find the one you like, it can be shipped to your present CarMax location for a fee, which will be tagged onto the purchase price. This will make the cost of the vehicle that much higher.

Their vehicles are given the 125 point check which is similar to the dealer’s pre-owned vehicles they sell inspected by their certified mechanics. CarMax hires ASE certified Technicians. The magority of the vehicles that CarMax resells are turn backs from Rental Companies. What that means is, the Rental Car Companies purchase a percentage of their vehicles and the remainder is leased. So the owned vehicles are retired for resell after 25,000 or so miles, so that they can get a fair market value for the vehicle. Hertz Rent A Car actually operates car lots of their own is larger locations across the country where they sell some of their best turn backs, since Hertz’s keep strict records of all their rental cars.

I purchased two Hertz vehicles for my Mother at the time I was a Fleet Manager for Hertz and both turned out to be great cars, low mileage and the first one she owned lasted 265,000 miles before she really needed another one in order to keep the cost down on repairs. With that many miles you know the car is going to need a few things repaired sooner than later.

CarMax does offer a variety of financing options that fits your budget and monthly payments as well as purchasing your old vehicle if you have one to trade in. Don’t expect to receive top dollar for the car though. This is a huge part of their companies profit since they resell these trade-ins at auction and by giving you bottom price, they can make a profit. So if you think your car is worth more than they offer, then sell by owner would be your best option.

I recommend doing your homework prior to purchasing any vehicle, whether it is from a pre-owned car lot or a private party. As the saying goes when buying from a private party, “buyers beware”. Make sure to have a mechanic check it out before you buy, you never know what might lurk under that hood. Many of my customers and friends always ask me to give a potential new used car the once over and I can tell you, I go through that car like a fine tooth comb. I look it over as if I was going to purchase the car myself.

I can honestly tell you, I almost never give thumbs up to the first car they bring to me. The car lots are rather annoyed with me once I have completed my 125 point check because I point out all that I find wrong with the vehicle. Salespeople really know nothing about the cars they sell, after all, they are sales people not mechanics so they are focused on the purchase price and doing their job, selling cars. If you think about asking anything technical, you’re better off saving that conversation for your mechanic.

Extended warranties are another area to be cautious with, you need to researched further. Make sure to understand all that is covered. This is an added bonus for the car lot to make some extra cash if you are not careful. There are some excellent extended warranties for sale, be very selective and do your homework.

In the end, take the time to visit many car lots to get an idea of pricing for the specific vehicle you are in the market for. Never pay more than the vehicle is worth. If you finance it, you will be over your head on the price which could have you taking a loss if you ever need to sell it. Never be in a hurry to purchase.

I researched CarMax to see how many cars they have actually sold and during the 12 months ended February 28, 2013, the company retailed 447,728 used cars and sold 324,779 wholesale vehicles at our in-store auctions. So they must be doing something right and for the most part, buyers have been happy with their CarMax experience from the reviews I have read.

Click to access CarMax link

Good luck and Happy Motoring

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