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Sunday, June 26th
CarMax has been around for over 60 years. With more than 200 stores in 41 states, you've probably seen this used car dealership somewhere near you. If you're looking to buy a used car, starting with the 45,000+ vehicles in CarMax's nationwide inventory is a smart choice.
Very easy-to-use website
The process of using the CarMax site to find your next used car couldn't get any easier. You can start shopping by vehicle type, make, or price range - or type in your preferred make, model or other keywords (like AWD or blind spot detection) right in the search bar. Also, be sure that your preferred CarMax location is in the upper right corner of the page; it'll detect your location automatically, but you can choose a different store if you like. You'll be taken to a list of results that you can filter even further, and arrange the list any way you wish: lowest to highest mileage or price, distance from you, and so forth.
Transfer cars from other CarMax locations
What happens if you see a used car you like, but it's at a CarMax that's hundreds (or thousands) of miles away? No problem. You'll see a transfer fee listed right on the vehicle's details. You'll have to pay that in advance and it's non-refundable, but it's well worth it to get the car that has all of the specs you've been picturing in your new-to-you car. For what it's worth, we've never seen a transfer fee over $500; most are somewhere in the $99-$199 range, depending on the distance between CarMax locations.
Schedule a test drive to reserve a vehicle
When you've spotted a CarMax vehicle you're interested in, we strongly recommend that you schedule a test drive within the next seven days. Why? When you've made a reservation, that car is no longer viewable in detail or test-drivable by anyone else. That offers a big advantage over many of the used car platforms we evaluated, which often explicitly state that there's no guarantee that any given vehicle won't be sold before you get there.
Why have people used CarMax to buy over nine million pre-owned vehicles? This company has some features that make it stand head and shoulders above your typical used car lot or big-brand dealership. First and foremost, you never have to haggle for a better price here. The amount you see is what you'll pay - and that's true whether or not you trade in a vehicle or use their financing. For those of us who absolutely cringe at the thought of bargaining back and forth with a salesperson, this is a huge perk.
"Love Your Car Guarantee"
Another shopper-friendly aspect of buying a used car through CarMax is their "Love Your Car Guarantee" . That starts with a 24-hour test drive - no guesswork as to whether or not that full-sized SUV is going to fit in your garage or if all of your car seats can fit comfortably, because you can find out before you sign on the dotted line. Even after you buy the vehicle, CarMax gives you a 30-day money-back guarantee, up to 1,500 miles. Do you get the idea that they really want you to be happy with your purchase here?
Used cars are thoroughly inspected
Plus, CarMax goes to great lengths to inspect and choose the cars they sell on their lots. You'll never find a vehicle here with flood damage, frame damage or salvage history. They have a detailed 125-point checklist for every inspection, and anything that doesn't meet their standards is repaired or replaced before being listed for sale. On average, a CarMax vehicle gets 15 hours of attention - replacing parts, fixing bigger dents and scratches, and detailing inside and out - so that you can feel confident in buying any used car they carry.
Fantastic extended warranty coverage available
Beyond that, CarMax offers some of the best extended warranty coverage in the industry. The cost depends on the vehicle price, the length of time/mileage, and the selected deductible, but customers report that it's well worth the investment (and it can be rolled into your financing if you choose). The policy covers anything that isn't specifically excluded; those are usually wear-and-tear items like brakes and windshield wipers, and of course they won't cover anything you've damaged. Your car can be serviced either at a CarMax location or at one of their network of approved partners; you'll save $50 on your deductible when you choose the former.
Not necessarily for every used car buyer
Are there any downsides to buying used cars at CarMax? Maybe, depending on what you're looking for. A fixer-upper? Nope - broken cars don't meet this company's high standards. A great deal that you get with your world-class bargaining skills? That's not going to be possible; as we mentioned, the price is the price, end of story. A private sale? Not here. And, as of the time of this evaluation, there were nine states where CarMax didn't have a presence yet.
Our first choice for buying used cars
But, in our opinion, those are really minor compared with the overall picture. CarMax takes great care of its customers from start to finish, their reputation is excellent (including an "A+" from the Better Business Bureau), and you're likely to drive away with a used car that's in terrific shape and priced fairly. What's not to love about that? For all of these reasons and more, CarMax is the first site we'd recommend for buying used cars. They earn our highest rating.
No matter what, your first step should always be research. You should determine exactly what's going to fit your needs (or your wants!). Do you have a particular make and model in mind, or are features going to be king regardless of manufacturer? Whether you're all about safety or you feel the need for speed, it's well worth your time to dig into the details of price, reliability and availability, especially when used car inventory is at an all-time low nationwide.
Fortunately, there are many websites that help you do just that - and then make it possible for you to find your perfect new-to-you ride. Some of these platforms even let you buy your car online and have it delivered right to your house. Before you start worrying about the safety of such vehicles, rest assured that most companies selling used cars will include a detailed, independently-verified history report right in the car's listing.
You can see how many owners it's had, any accidents reported, and sometimes the service history detailing oil changes and other routine maintenance. Buying used cars online is a huge time-saver too: you don't have to make a long drive to a dealership hoping they'll have something on the lot that you'll like, and you can avoid a lot of the "pushy salesperson" experience.
Most sites that sell pre-owned vehicles also have tools for determining how much you can afford and prequalifying for financing - which is one less thing you'll have to do in person (assuming you don't take the 100% online route from the get-go).
Which site should you use for buying used cars? There are a lot of similarities among them, and among the highest-rated services you can choose fairly freely without worrying about missing out. But, here are some things to consider about any used car website you're looking at:
TopConsumerReviews.com has evaluated and ranked the best online services for buying used cars. We're confident that this information will help you get your next pre-owned set of wheels at a price you'll love!
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