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Carmax / Be well prepared to enter a nightmare world!

1 United States Review updated:

To anyone who is considering buying a car at CARMAX, I would think a 100 times before buying through them!

Here are the REASONS why:

I bought my car 15 months ago at CARMAX located in Dulles VA. Within the second day my car had to be towed back to CARMAX. Unfortunately nothing was obvious while test driving it. The rotors had to be changed, the HVAC had to be replaced, an alignment and new breaks among few other things on the list which ended up costing them $8000 to fix my car!!!

So much for claiming full inspection before the car is put on the lot... two words: FALSE ADVERTISING! Due to the fact my car was in the shop for 30 days, they had to extend my initial warranty to 60 days?

15 months later, I went back to get an electrical part of my mirror replaced and the steering pump replaced -- which was part of the initial problem but it was never fixed! Both parts are under my extended warranty which I paid an extra for it. Good thing I did! Two weeks later, I still do not have my
car back because they are arguing with the claims company to have the right piece shipped to them. In the meantime I am the one who is suffering going from one loaner to another loaner. The mirror and the steering pump should not take more than one day of labor. Do I really need to go through so much
hassle when I bought a warranty so I should not go through so much pain! I have been going back and forth (4) times now, if it happened to me I am sure it happened to others. It seems that this inefficient management is a common pattern.

Would I consider a car from CARMAX again? Absolutely not even if it was given to me for free. I would never want to go through the same experience again.

So for all the braves who are you still considering buying a car through CARMAX, just be well prepared to enter a nightmare world!!

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  • Do
      12th of Jul, 2007
    +1 Votes

    I agree car max is hard to deal with. I purchased Impala with extended warranty. The car is now making a popping noise from steering & braking. Car max will not cover the cost. They aren't sure what it is, could need a lub. kit and then said they couldn't guarantee it would work, but here is the thing I HAVE to PAY 200. to try this to see if it works. that is not covered under extended warranty. Now what am I suppose to do?

    Never will I buy from Car Max again.

  • Ma
      13th of Sep, 2007
    +2 Votes

    Your first mistake is buying a used Chevy product. It's not any used car dealership's fault that American made sedans are crap. I know for a fact that Carmax inspects their cars more than ANY used car dealership. I have seen frame damaged Toyota's that were sold certified by a Huge Toyota dealearship! Cars are machines and things will go wrong. You can't peg one dealership over the faults of GM. Do your homework with Consumer Reports or some other respectful magazine and buy a realiable car!!!

  • Ro
      6th of Oct, 2007
    -1 Votes

    Although Mark has a point, American cars are not as reliable as most imports, if a car dealer is spouting claims that the car has been inspected, advertises it as such, and uses this claim to sell the vehicle, then I would view this as false advertising. Mechanical issues can come up. Cars do break down. However, CV-joints, brake rotors and pads are easily inspected for wear and normal, or not so normal, wear. If CarMax's inspection can't find a simple worn rotor or a CV-Joint that is begining to fail, I would hate to see them trying to find an actual issue under warranty. Oh wait, that falls right in line with the two complaints above.

    My wife and I were tying to sell our van. We saw the television advertisments that CarMax will guarantee a purchase price. We went in, went through the car selling process. Within an hour CarMax gave us our paperwork with the purchase price. To our dismay it was below what we were looking for. My wife and I went out side and discussed the offer and decided to take it. We went into the business center, handed them our offer paperwork and told them we accept the $4,000 offer and are willing to sell the van to CarMax.

    Keep in mind, CarMax states their offers are good for 7-days because they thoroughly inspect and research the vehicle. 40 minutes later CarMax came to us, they guy, Ryan W. at CarMax in Columbia, SC, came to us and stated that the offer is being reduced. Trying to tell us that becasue one dealership bought the vehicle from another dealership that the mileage of the vehicle is unknown. The offer dropped by at least half and as Ryan stated would probably drop more.

    I, loudly, told them is was Bulls*$%^. Explained that they gave us a guaranteed purchase price that they offered, guaranteed for 7-days, and in which my wife and I agreed to accept. The entire showroom with at least 20 customers was completely quiet listening to me tell CarMax about their so called guarantees. I told them that I hope they stand behind their warranties that they are selling to people better than how they stand behind a 7-day guaranteed purchase price when buying a car. I view this as a contract, verbal since they verbally told us how much and written since they put the offer in writting.

    I have not bought any car from CarMax. I have three kids in which I will need to buy three cars in 4, 6, and 8 years for them as well as replacing the three vehicles my wife and I have.
    Not one will ever be purchased from CarMax. NOT ONE!!!

  • Mi
      9th of Dec, 2007
    -1 Votes

    This is my first post so please bear with me if I make a gaffo. Also remember this is merely a reporting of my experiences at Carmax, your's may be different (my attorney made me say that... [yes I really have an attorney - this event is not over])

    I bought a 2004 Chevy Corvette (C-5) in June of 2007 form the Carmax in Orlando, FL.

    The salesman said all the right things (e.g. we're different, we'll fix anything within 30 days etc.) Now bear in mind I'm not a stupid person, I hate buying a new car but my SUV was coughing up blood and I had no choice.

    I had my own financing - no prob. They added the warranty, but after the low-key pitch it sound like a good deal (beside my last Vette was one mechanical disaster after another - when it was in shape it was a joy, but that was infrequent - sort of a love-hate relationship)

    They offered me $150.00 for my SUV and I was happy. Bluebook was $450 but I was fine with it, one less hassle.

    The Vette ran great, a few noises here and there, some pulsation with the brakes - but the overall styling had changed so much since my last Vette (13 years ago) I just figured things had changed.

    My wife stared telling me about the brakes pulsating and we both noticed clunking and grinding from the rear with high-angle low speed turns.

    Before the 30 day "all inclusive warranty" was up I took it in to be looked at by the Carmax "mechanics" in Orlando. I had five (5) problem areas I wanted them to check:

    1. Cosmetic defect in the driver's seat fitting into the seat pan (actually identified by the salesman when I bought it who had said "bring it in and we'll fix it - no problem!"

    2. Pulsating brakes that pull to left or right - worse with rapid deceleration.

    3. Problem with center console opening

    4. Problem with "clunking" noise and "grinding" noise with turns

    5. Tire pressure sensors inaccurate need re-calibrating.

    When I picked it back up later that day I was told nothing was wrong, everything was “within normal limits” and they had lubricated the center console hinge.

    Went home – the read end noise got worse.

    Finally, on 27 August, I took it to Courtesy Chevrolet across the street from Carmax, also in Orlando. Turns out t he rear noise was a problem Chevy knew about, a service bulletin HAD been issues, the car was still under Chevy warranty (by one day no less) and they fixed it – FREE.

    Went home happy.

    Pulsating brakes started getting worse and the rear end noise came back. Took it back to Courtesy Chevrolet. – Then the bad part started.

    Rear end – under warranty from previous repair – taken care of.

    Brakes – disc rotors AND calipers shot x 4 – uneven wear. So bad it would have been clearly visible during the “under warranty” inspection at Carmax earlier when they had written “…checked front brakes for uneven wear – ok… checked front brake pistons and caliper slides for binding – none. No repair required at this time.(sic)”

    The icing on the cake was rotors, calipers etc. are not covered by the Carmax warranty.

    Contacted the local Carmax head of maintenance department (whose name I cannot mention but if you were to call Carmax Orlando and ask for the direct of maintenance, it would be him. To do him justice, he DID call back and proceeded to try to ream ME for everything being MY fault. I took his verbal harassment and humiliation as I figured it would be a small price to pay for them to pay for the repairs UNTIL I told him I was concerned about my wife driving a unsafe care for two months that should have been fixed when I first brought it in to Carmax. This “gentleman” began to laugh, yes LAUGHED at my concern for my wife’s safety.

    I that point I lost my “turn the other cheek” attitude and told him basically to shove Carmax up an opening in his lower body.

    Two days later I went to pick up my car (Chevy had to get certain parts mailed in).

    The Chevy repair person, God bless his naiveté,, had still been talking with this director of maintenance at Carmax and gleefully informed me Carmax WAS going to pay the bill. The bill was $1053.19 plus the cost of a rent a car for two days. He said he wasn’t sure if Carmax was going to send Courtesy Chevrolet the check or have me pay and then refund me.

    The next day, the Chevy repair person, called to say Carmax would be sending me a check and Chevy would charge my credit card.

    That was fine. I was happy. I was even reconsidering my evaluation of Carmax – i.e. maybe I had been wrong and they were stepping up to the bat to “do the right thing.”

    Today, Saturday, it has been thirteen (13) days since I took my car in for the repairs. Still no check (there never will be) still no apologies, in fact no communication except from the Carmax salesman who apparently naively believes Carmax will “do the right thing”.

    Again my experiences may be different from yours, (as my attorney reminded me to write) you might get treated right. The message is BE CAREFUL! Carmax is still just another used car dealership; packed differently, owned by Circuit City (really – look it up) but it’s still the scorpion and frog story.

    My suggestion, if you didn’t read the above and still choose to buy a car at Carmax. Choose the car, skip the extended warranty, and – no matter how hard it might be to do this – when you drive the car off the Carmax lot drive it directly to your prearranged service checkup with a local dealership. It may cost a dollar or two but you will know right away what’s wrong and be able to return the car to Carmax within 5 days and get your money back or at least force them to fix your car.

    Be careful, don’t make my mistakes. Personally speaking, based solely on my experiences (my attorney talking again) I would/will NEVER buy a car from Carmax again, in fact I would not buy a $10 bill from them if they only wanted $5.

    Final Scorecard:

    Courtesy Chevrolet Orlando = A+
    Carmax Orlando = F-

    Of course your experiences my be different from mine . . .

    So what are your experiences?


  • Jo
      9th of Jan, 2008
    +1 Votes

    I agree that carmax is full of nothing but lies. My wife and i went to the carmax in oklahoma city to buy her first car. She fell in love with a 2002 ford focus. The salesman was great and the whole process was quick. We were in and out, i really liked that about them.

    Then on the 6th day the check engine light came on and the transmission was acting up and the radio was shorting in and out. So we took the car in. My first reaction was shocked. There was 8 people in the waiting room waiting on there cars to be fixed, all of which were in their 30 day warranty.

    They gave me a rental and told me they would call. the first phone call they said they think the problem is a loose bracket, i told them to double check and call me back. you see one of my renters is a mechanic and he told me the focus has had numerous problems with the transmission. on the second day carmax called and said that it is indeed the transmission so they did an overhaul on it. this fixed the problem for a month.

    When the problem came back , i called carmax and told them i was bringing the car in to be serviced. carmax told me the car wasnt under warranty. they denied that i had an extended warranty. so i went up to the store to prove them wrong. i had the extended warranty paper in my hand proving had i it, and they apologized and said it was a gliche in the computer. they checked the car out and said nothing was wrong. liars they are

    Luckily my car got in a wreck and was counted as a total of loss by my insurance company. but now my problems are worse.

    Farmers insurance has valued the car 2800 dollars less than what i paid for it 6 months ago, and we only put 3000 miles on it and the car had no hits on it to lower its value.

    Second problem is carmax hasnt returned the settlement package to farmers ins. its been over a 10 days since farmers sent the settlement to carmax. so i called carmax and asked to speak to who is handling my case. they transfer me to george in carmax's insurance department. at first he is acting confused and saying he hasnt heard of my case or seen any papers from farmers, so he tells me he will find out who is handling my case. after being on hold for 20 minutes george comes back and says he is in charge of my case and puts all the blame on farmers saying he has sent farmers a package and is not waiting on them. now this guy at first said he didnt know anything about my case and now he is all knowledgable and is blaming other people. so i ask for his last name for future reference and he tells me his last name is not necessary and doesnt give it to me.

    Well my car has been wrecked for almost a month and im still waiting on carmax to get the paperwork signed.

    My advice is dont trust carmax on anything, they even lied about who picked up my loan for the car. first they told me bank of america did, and then when i got the title it said carmax is my lien holder.

  • Jo
      9th of Jan, 2008
    +1 Votes

    Ok, you guys have some good points, and some of what you have described is just plain wrong if what you say is true. However, for those of you that bought an American vehicle, (especially you who bought the focus) its might as well be your fault.

    Donna, your breaks are not covered under the extended warranty because they are wear and tear items and need to be replaced every so often. If they give you breaks that are fine when you buy the car, then after the 30 day warranty period expires, why should the CarMax warranty cover it?

    Robert, your vehicle had what is called a ROLLEDBACK ODOMETER. Someone screwed you when you bought your car, or you tampered with the odometer yourself. I feel bad that you had to find out that way, but when CarMax tries to sell that vehicle, they have to report that by law. They are a company conducting business and need to make money not lose it by selling a vehicle with the true miles unknown. Yes, I feel they should have valued the vehicle AT FIRST with the rollback accounted for, but people make mistakes. If anything I think you own them an apology.

    Michael, yea that sucks my friend... about the check it probably has to be processed by some sort of central office somewhere, and just takes a while. Just call the store, and ask for the headquarters or something, they may be able to tell you.

    Joe, the bias of your statements makes it useless to read your statements. I just don’t believe you; in the customer services industry, if you ask for a name and they refuse, then you take it to their supervisor. Did you? You don’t mention it so I don’t think you did either your stupid or your lying. Also, why would they lie about who financed your car, and how? YOU SIGNED PAPERWORK WITH THE NAME OF THE BANK ON IT, THE LENGTH OF THE LOAN, PAYMENTS, ETC... IF THEY CAN LIE TO YOU ABOUT THAT, THEN MAYBE YOU DISERVED IT.

  • Im
      10th of Jan, 2008
    0 Votes

    I purchased a 2007 PT Crusier from the Local Car Max store. I had temporary tags on the car and they were to mail the permanent ones when they came in...WELL ! I bought the car in Oct 2007 and I am not sitting here in JAN 2008 and still have NO TAGS.....I am so angry ! I have complained and called everyone and then some and can NO ONE to call me back...I told the Manager of the local store to take the car back and swap me one that is the same money. I should have NEVER EVER been sold this car until they new there was a CLEAR TITLE on this car. I have been told not to worry...If I get a ticket to bring it to them and they will pay for it...WELL excuse me, but it still shows on the driving record....And then they tell me they work on it every day....LIE LIE LIE..........

    We told them we are always pulled over because of the tags..THEY DO NOT CARE.....My daughter drives the car to work. She is a POLICE OFFICER and the dept she is with is frowing on this tag mess......DOES CAR MAX CARE ??????? NO THEY DO NOT !!!


    We have tried everything....Next is an attorney to take the car back and dump it in their laps..........They sold me a car illegally......And now do not want to correct the problem.....

  • Ja
      14th of Jan, 2008
    0 Votes

    My name is Jason, and I am currently working for a fairly reputable Toyota dealership in the Milwaukee area. I recently got a call from Carmax saying that they would like me to come in for an interview for a technician position they have available. I'm not overly unhappy with where I work, but I spent a lot of money on college to be certified to work on automobiles, and the dealership I'm at doesn't pay its employees s#$t. Also, the insurance they offer is garbage. VERY EXPENSIVE garbage. I'm concerned about the reputation Carmax has picked up, and I'm wondering if anyone has ever worked for them, and if I should even waste my time with the interview. If anyone has any experience working for Carmaxl, please email me with your experiences. My email address is Thanks

  • Bl
      24th of Jan, 2008
    0 Votes

    I just took a car in for an appraisal. I did some home work before I went. (The adds seemed to good to be true.) I was glad I did. They sighted that the vehicle came from Canada, so they could not verify that the odometer readings were correct. “It would have had a metric odometer if it was the original.” But I did a title search before I went and found out the original Purchaser was in Detroit. It had to have the original odometer when I purchased it as the second owner. If they did a title search they would have known that. There were no gaps in time that the vehicle may have mysteriously been foreign and the converted to make a quick sell. It has always been in the US. Since its initial purchase. I also found the Black Book Auction price for the vehicle. It was $800. It would have cost an average of $1,200 - $3,000 to purchase a vehicle Just like it on line. Same condition and mileage. I would have been OK with them offering $500. But they came back with an appraisal of $250. So it seems like they try to get you from both ends. The scrap is worth more than $250.

  • Ri
      14th of Feb, 2008
    +1 Votes

    Look! I do believe that you all have had some type of problem or else you would never take the time to post it here - HOWEVER - what about the 100's of thousands of Happy and Satisfied Carmax Customers that have no need to post anything..

    Carmax from what I know does a HUGE volume of sales- it's to be expected there will be a small number of problem situations - but it's not the Norm...

    I totally agree with the poster that advised to take the car to your personal mechanic you do business with for their own - unbiased check up--You have 5 days to return it if the vehicle gets a bad report --It's not a hassel because you are making a BIG purchase for the next 5-10 years, so a little inconvenience and a check up fee is a VERY SMALL price to pay for piece of mind...

  • Ju
      27th of Feb, 2008
    0 Votes

    Just five months ago I purchased a Mazda CX 7 Turbo from CarMax, Orlando Fl. The vehicle only had 8k miles and after a few days on the road the check engine light came on. When I took it for service, the vehicle had a recall which I was never told about. Parts of the engine were replaced and there was something wrong with the transmission. Three check engine lights later, the vehicle still has it's problems and it even stalls after reaching over 45 mph. I have owned over 23 cars in my life and this has thruly been the worst investment I have ever made on a vehicle. Bottom line is, wether is a chevy a corvette or a mazda, if it's from CarMax it's a LEMON!!!

  • Jo
      3rd of Mar, 2008
    0 Votes

    If you think about it, carmax DID attempt to resolve the issue, you try doing that at any other used car lot and they'll just laugh at you, you signed and drove away, goodbye and good riddance. Carmax does sell hundreds of thousands of cars a year, not every single one is expected to be pristine. Think about that one

  • Ju
      22nd of May, 2008
    0 Votes

    CarMax sold me a lemon. If they had done even a 5 point inspection, they might have noted that the exhaust system was under recall from the manufacturer. When they tell you "we have a great service center, " do not believe them. The mechanics might be great, but you will never get an appointment. You will probably be told (like I was), "go ahead and take it to a dealer." Really? the salesman said I could bring it here... hm? Funny how that works.
    I bought a car with about 36k miles from them that, in one year, I had to sink 3000 of repairs. I made the repairs and decided I wanted out from under the car before anything else happened to it. They offered me about 1/2 of what the Kelly blue book trade-in value for the automobile was. I still have the car, still paying on it, and every so often the engine light likes to pop on just to get my bloodpressure high.
    I will never shop at CarMax again and I will gladly explain to all my friends why that is the case.

  • Ro
      10th of Jun, 2008
    0 Votes

    It's interesting how you have these people come in and defend CarMax. They sound like a bunch of the usual car dealer types. Running a car dealership is having a license to steal, and I've deal with many that are entirely dishonest. I believe every negative experience is valid, and every attempt to defend them ridiculous.

    I've had my best car buying experience on e-bay, I recommend you do the same, make sure you don't buy from a dealer, though.

    With that said... the best bet on any car, is to get nowhere near the service center, and that means you need a reliable car. For all the garbage that one guy spewed, he gave you good advice not to buy american. Get yourself a toyota.

  • Ro
      10th of Jun, 2008
    0 Votes

    Let me explain further, why this logic of '100, 000' satisfied customers, and only a few lemons, is complete garbage and intended to deceive you.

    If you were making money on 100, 000 good vehicles, and only had one bad one, you could very easily afford to fix the bad one.

    It's only the one, after all... best to keep your good reputation.

    The fact is many car dealers, make money by buying low and selling high, they don't want to find problems and don't want to fix them either. The fact that CarMax has these complaints is absolutely something you better consider. Don't assume its rare. In the army they had 'sled sheds' all around.

    Its not so rare in the car industry to have auto dealers that will defend their reputation with strong words and not STRONG ACTIONS. STRONG WORDS COST NOTHING, FIXING THE CAR COSTS.

  • Ly
      1st of Jul, 2008
    0 Votes

    In May 2007 my mother and I purchased a Dodge Intrepid from Carmax in Charlotte, NC. The vehicle came with only 35, 000 miles. The first week of driving the vehicle problems started. The first problem started with squeaky breaks. After contacting Carmax and taking it in they checked it stating that the breaks pads were brand new and the squeaking would eventually stop. About a week later, when putting the vehicle in reverse it would not go into gear. I had to put it in park for the transmission to work properly. We called Carmax and informed them of this issue, resulting in the Service Department assuring me that their vehicles go through a thorough inspection prior to putting them on the market. This was truly an inconvenience because I just started a new job and could not keep going back and forth to Carmax. They assured that nothing was wrong with the transmission. In April 2008 this vehicle was 11 months old with only 60, 000 miles on it. Currently the transmission gets stuck when I come to a complete stop and will not shift gears. Sometimes my mother and I have to actually turn the vehicle off at a red light or stop sign to get the gears to shift correctly. This is very dangerous and unsafe because I have children. Just recently I contacted the Sales Rep which was very helpful, the only one in Carmax to show any empathy. Of course he did not want to admit that I was sold a “LEMON” but requested that I bring the vehicle in to see about getting it traded. He stated on the phone that he may be able to work a deal for me. What a nightmare!! My mother and I took this vehicle to Carmax and the staff was very rude. They appraised the vehicle for 3500.00, the person that performed my appraisal was extra rude. The appraiser stated that there was nothing wrong with the transmission, Being sarcastic I said “Of course not, that’s why you are saying that its only worth 3500.00. When we got this vehicle we bought in a “90” model Ford Mustang in poor condition (muffler was hanging off) and they gave me 2000.00 for it. The Mustang had over 100, 000 miles on it. Now if nothing is wrong with the Intrepid why are they only offering 3500.00 and it only has 60, 000 miles on it and is in “great condition” as they say. Carmax has turned me against ever buying another Dodge, and ever recommending or buying again from Carmax. (I'm in the processing now of contacting the local news and newspaper to inform everyone how crooked Carmax is)

  • La
      18th of Jul, 2008
    -1 Votes

    I agree that Carmax is founded on false adversiting.
    When I walked into showroom last Spring the first thing I saw was a beautiful car with before and after pictures of it crashed.
    I was impressed and reassured by salesthing (person) that Carmax does not sell cars like "that". so I trusted them and purchased an Acura. About a month later we noticed that the
    bumpers had been repainted. The SRS malfunction light
    began to stay on so I took it to Acura dealer and they confirmed
    car had been hit (front and back). When I called and emailed Carmax they ignored me and I never heard from them.

  • An
      15th of Sep, 2008
    -1 Votes

    dont even no were to begin. first off the l.g.m manager(supposebly the main honcho total loozer! by da way) is horrible with no people or social skills treats every1 like a child, but when u insult him back he gets offended, he's no team player! most of the errors he causes and blames managers and of course since very1 is afraid of him no1 talks sh** but hey! it's da O.C wat else would u expect from a self-indulgent wiener who hangs out @ starbucks drinking caramel frappachinos during work time, since ive been working there for about 4 years ive have never heard a positive voice from him...if u guys would really know what carmax is about behind doors, is enough to make u work at another dealer and probably work longer than a carmax location. now im not going 2 lie, the only thing good about carmax is the people u work with which are sales associates, business office and the other departments except sales mngmt. i heard managers say "how can u continue life without carmax?" my question is, how can u not? pssshh a geat place to work my a**! anyplace is better n did i say the managers suck too? favor-tism is heavyly looked upon in this enviroment, if ur not top sales ur always on the temination list the managers keep, only they call it something diffrent. in an overal thought, im happy without cmax and did i say im making more money now than i was there thats a joke i can run all da way to bank with hahaha...wat really saddens me is that im seeing more postings and bulletin on why carmax suxs, jeeezz i though i was da only 1. i really though it was a good place to work...but i guess not.

  • Ri
      28th of Sep, 2008
    +2 Votes


  • Si
      5th of Nov, 2008
    +2 Votes

    The man drove 15 months with a bad steering pump ?!
    That's worse than ignorance, it's negligence !
    Get real out there folks. These gripes are the same,
    franchised dealers get thru their manufacturer's
    CSI (Customer Satisfaction Index) B.S. ! The most idiotic
    concept this Automotive Industry ever came up with.
    Because, and I bet ya, that that man never used those harsh
    words in front of the personell of the Carmax store.
    It's easy to be frustated and go home and have a climax on the
    keybord while saying, "Let's go and show them".
    He had his extended warranty, well, yes of course you pay for
    that extra, ...daaaaah! So what? He got his loaner cars,
    paid his deductible and got the work done.
    Yours truly,
    Independent Automotive Inspector. S.H.

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