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20 Things You Didn't Know About CarMax


CarMax is the largest automotive retailer in the nation dealing in the sale of used cars. If you're not familiar with this business, there are some things about it that might be good to know. There are pros and cons associated with dealing through this large clearinghouse of used vehicles and just as there are complaints from consumers about them, there are also satisfied customers who have nothing negative to say about them. If you're looking for a used car and you've been considering checking out the deals that they offer, here are twenty things you didn't know about CarMax, but may find interesting.

1. They're pioneers in an industry niche

CarMax is the first retailer to develop the concept of a used car superstore. Before they began offering their expansive services, there was no site that offered people the choice of viewing a huge inventory of vehicles in one convenient web location. They established the business in Richmond, Virginia where they opened their first store in 1993.

2. CarMax lets you shop vehicles all over the nation

An advantage of buying a used car through CarMax is that they have a process for shipping cars from one location to another. If you see a vehicle that you want and it's several thousand miles away, it's not a problem. They will have the vehicle shipped for a fee (though sometimes Carmax does this free of charge). This gives you a wider area when you're looking for a certain type of car and it can save you the hassle of flying or driving hundreds or even thousands of miles. The shipping fees are actually less than what it would cost you to drive there on your own.

3. CarMax is a great place to work

If you're interested in working for CarMax, you'll be happy to hear that Fortune Magazine listed the business as one of their "Best 100 Companies to Work For." This wasn't just a one-time occurrence either. CarMax has consistently made the list for 14 years in a row. This tells you something about the way that they treat their employees. It's not easy to get on this prestigious list and CarMax has beat out hundreds of thousands of other businesses to secure their place there. They have to be doing something right.

4. You can change your mind if you don't like your used car

CarMax is one of the few auto retailers that will help you out if you experience buyers remorse. If you're no happy with the car that you bought, they will allow you o return it. The trick with making this a seamless process is to act fast and make the return within seven days of your purchase. While it isn't a big window of time it does give the buyer several days to try the vehicle out and make a final decision. We think it's a great policy and it's one of the things about CarMax that gives them an edge over their competition.

5. You won't ever need to haggle over the prices

When you see a car that you like it will have a price sticker on the window. There is no need to haggle about it because this is the price that you will pay if you want the car. The company is fully committed to offering low prices on vehicles and they're not into playing numbers games with their customers. They post a decent price and stick with it. It's no use to try to dicker with them, but you'll notice that the prices are often lower than what most car lots offer because they're cutting out the time-consuming rhetoric and they're very upfront about the value of the vehicle, so at least you won't have to go through this hassle when you're just trying to get a vehicle at a decent price. There's nothing going on with the numbers behind the scenes.

6. CarMax auctions used cars to dealers

CarMax not only sells used cars to consumers directly, but they also auction them off to other car dealers. What does this tell you? It tells you that you're far more likely to get the better deal directly through them. They auction some of their inventory to dealers in 25 different states and by the time they mark them up, it stands to reason that the competition's lowest possible price is going to include the markup that is necessary just to cover their handling costs.

7. You can get flexible financing through CarMax

There are many dealers that offer their own in-house financing plans. Some only work with preferred lenders which means you may be paying more in interest or in monthly payment amounts than you had planned for. At CarMax, they offer flexible payment plans. A sales representative sits down with the buyer and it doesn't take long before the various financing options are presented on the screen. The client is given the options for the financing that is offered and it spares them the agonizingly long process of dealing with a finance manager. CarMax has simplified the process and it's far less painless than the experience so many endure at regular dealerships or smaller used lots.

8. Every car sold goes through a stringent testing process

CarMax ensures that each car on their lot has gone through an inspection process that covers more than 125 points. They check the motor, transmission, cooling and fuel systems, and much more. They cover all of the major systems to ensure that they are in excellent operating condition. This cuts down on the odds of driving off their lot with a lemon on your hands. They also offer an extended coverage plan that you would expect to find with certified pre-owned cars that are offered by other dealers. What's really the most advantageous about the CarMax extended service plan is that they allow the customer to customize it fully in accordance with their own driving habits and preferences. There is a charge for the extended plan, but you can customize it to fit within the budget you've set aside. It puts you in the driver's seat, literally.

9. Free warranty

We've talked about the extended care plan, but each vehicle sold by CarMax is covered by a limited warranty. This warranty is absolutely free. The warranty extends to all of the vital systems of the car along with several hundreds of the parts on the inside and the exterior. CarMax in Connecticut offers this free warranty for 60 days while it is in force for 30 days in all other states in the nation.

10. Cars offered by CarMax are 6 years or younger

CarMax maintains a fleet of used vehicles for sale that ranges between one to six years of age but the company also buys and sells vehicles that are older than 6 years of age.  They're committed to providing quality vehicles that are "younger" to avoid some of the common mechanical problems that come along with aging vehicles.

11. They don't offer certified pre-owned protection

CarMax does not offer a certified pre-owned status for any of their vehicles. This is a warranty program that is offered by other dealers in the industry. Their program is quite similar, but it's called the CarMax Quality Certified. They've developed their own quality assurance program and it does make them stand out in the industry. It's similar to the manufacturer's certified programs, but there are a few differences.

12. CarMax also purchases used cars

If you have a used car to sell, CarMax may be willing to buy it. They don't require it to be within one to six years old. They buy cars of all ages because they do sell to other dealers. If your car is older than six and you want to sell it, bring it to a CarMax lot. It only takes 30 minutes to get an appraisal and if you have clear proof of ownership, you like the deal that they're offering you, then you can get paid on the spot. Bear in mind that it won't be a high price because they're in business to make a profit, but it's fast cash in your pocket. It's a convenient option for sellers that just want to sell the vehicle without a big hassle.

13. They're an award winning business

CarMax has been in business since 1993. During this time they've performed with high quality and integrity that has earned the company national and international recognition. They know how to make it easy to buy a car. They've won a variety of national and international awards for providing such a necessary service and doing it well.

14. CarMax salespeople don't use gimmicks

One of the most frustrating things about going to a car lot is having to deal with salespeople and their unoriginal gimmicks. In most cases, they've been trained and prepped to deliver a series of lines to convince and persuade browsers to buy a certain vehicle. There are times when you just want to look and take your time deciding which if any cars you even want to ask about. It's hard to think when someone is hovering around you offering their expertise. CarMax salespeople are not like this. They have no agenda other than the be present when you need them, to answer all your questions and help you when you want to be helped. They stay out of your way until they're wanted.

15. CarMax staff works as a team and they don't pester visitors

Customers are allowed to work around the car yard freely. If they want help, a sales associate is there to assist. The team works together to be pleasant and offer services as needed. Not one of them is going to harass you or pressure you to test drive a vehicle. We've all experienced the team tag approach where one person from the lot will give a pitch, then another presents himself to add a little more pressure. They all have a common goal and mindset and they leave the cars unlocked for your convenience. You can inspect them privately without interference or distraction.

16. CarMax has a goal of making car buying stress-free

This is a revolutionary concept. How can you buy a car in a stress-free environment? If CarMax staff get their way, the entire process is going to be easy, fast and hassle-free. People make better decisions that they are less likely to regret in the future when they are relaxed and able to think it over.

17. The cars are all numbered

Each car in the CarMax yards is marked with a number in the front. This is for customer convenience and to make it easy to ask questions. All the customer needs to do when they find a vehicle they're interested in, is to check the number in the front of the car, then go to a salesperson and tell them. They'll get the information and help you with any questions, a test drive and help in buying the car if that's what is desired. Numbering the slots is a highly effective strategy, especially in the larger auto lots.

18. Financing at CarMax is superior to most other dealers

In fulfilling their mission to eliminate stress and hassle, CarMax associates do their best to find the ideal financing option quickly. They have access to programs that connect them with offers quickly and in most cases, it only takes a few minutes to get a decision returned. With no wheeling and dealing and no shady business behind the scenes, they review the offers with you and the choice is yours without the unnecessary nonsense that so many other car buyers go through.

19. You're not obligated after your offer comes in

If you think that you can find a better deal elsewhere or if you want to look for different financing on your own, you're not going to be hassled about walking away. If you do take the deal and then find a better one somewhere else, you have three days to come in and change it. There won't be a penalty and the associates will treat you in a friendly manner while you make the financing changes.

20. CarMax is customer-centric but they also take care of their own.

It's difficult for any car dealership to focus on customers and their sales associates simultaneously. Everyone is looking for a good deal on an auto purchase, but salespeople need to make a living too. By eliminating the price haggling, everyone knows up front what is on the table for them. CarMax offers a ton of benefits for their customers and they take good care of them. In the same respect, their workers don't need to worry about pressuring customers to pay a higher price for the cars and the lack of haggling takes a lot of hard work off their plates. They even feel better about themselves because there is no need for creativity with the language, other than to openly and honestly represent the car and let the customer decide.

Garrett Parker

Written by Garrett Parker

Garrett by trade is a personal finance freelance writer and journalist. With over 10 years experience he's covered businesses, CEOs, and investments. However he does like to take on other topics involving some of his personal interests like automobiles, future technologies, and anything else that could change the world.

Read more posts by Garrett Parker

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