Max Price At CarMax
January 3, 2010 8:39 AM   Subscribe

How Much Will CarMax Offer For My 1999 Toyota Camry?

On January 19th I am moving to South Africa! This is great and I am happy to get going. However, I must do one major thing before I leave: sell my 1999 Toyota Camry with 120,000 miles on it. The car is in good working condition with no major accidents (only one fender-bender).

Due to a wedding in SoCal, I will only have 10 days to sell my car before I leave. Someone suggested that CarMax would be a good place to sell it because they give you an offer in 45 minutes. But, while I must get rid of the car, I don't want to get hosed on the selling price. Reading online, some people love CarMax, but other people talk about getting ridiculously low offers.

1. How much would CarMax offer for my 1999 Toyota Camry with 120,000 miles? Guesstimates are happily expected.

2. Does CarMax make offers significantly below the bluebook trade-in value?

3. What can I do to maximize the price CarMax offers me?

Thanks in advance!
posted by chrisalbon to Shopping (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
CarMax, along with any other dealer, will offer significantly less than what you'd get if you sold it outright to an individual. If I were you, I'd try to sell it on Craiglist first, and if you still don't have it sold a day or two before you leave, take it to CarMax and get what you can for it. But you're likely to get a couple thousand dollars more if you sell it to an individual.
posted by nitsuj at 8:52 AM on January 3, 2010

Toyota Camrys are in demand in Southern California. I have a friend who sells her own cars. She meets prospective buyers in the parking lot of the Glendale Police Station. I also know someone who didn't do that and he got car jacked. Safety first.
posted by snowjoe at 9:04 AM on January 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

Does CarMax make offers significantly below the bluebook trade-in value?

The Blue Book value is all well and good, but it's not like Kelley is going to buy your car for that amount; it's just a starting point for negotiation. The price that matters is the price some party is willing to pay, so the real issue is whether CarMax pays more or less than other dealers or individuals. The gist of this gigantic thread seems to be that CarMax will take the car for less than Blue Book value but often more than traditional dealers. I recommend reading through that thread; some of the commenters worked at CarMax and many others have first-hand experience buying and selling there.

What can I do to maximize the price CarMax offers me?

Well, you could clean the car up and do inexpensive maintenance, but I'm not sure anything else would be effective. Apparently CarMax absolutely will not haggle or negotiate their appraised value. According to one former CarMax employee in the thread there's not even a way to change the price in the sales software (at least on the selling side; not sure about the buying side).
posted by jedicus at 9:08 AM on January 3, 2010

CarMax bought my last car (a Ford Ranger with 155,000 miles on it) for blue book. I was thrilled to pieces.
posted by restless_nomad at 9:10 AM on January 3, 2010

I just sold a car to carmax a few months ago and got blue book for it (which matched the best offer I'd gotten trying to sell it on my own but I didn't try very hard). I also had a really limited timeframe in which to sell, and I was thrilled with the whole experience. I did pay $25 to get it washed, vacuumed and tidied up on the inside (not a full detailing) at a decent carwash. I do think this helped. I'd recommend using them.
posted by magdalenstreetladies at 9:19 AM on January 3, 2010

ps - they do give you seven days to take up their offer. That gives you time to try to sell it on your own for more than they offer and still go back and sell it to them if you can't find anyone willing to pay more. Plus it gives you a firm baseline to work with.

Also, it's my understanding that their offers are based on their knowledge of the market - they turn over a lot of cars. Obviously they're not going to volunteer to lose money on the transaction, and they don't want to pay for something there's no demand for and they won't be able to sell - but if your car is in decent shape and in demand in your area, they'll give you a fair, non-street-value price. What you lose in profit you make up for in time and lack of hassle and risk. For me, it was worth a potential $1000 to be able to walk away with a cashiers check on the day I needed to sell it, and have someone else who knows what they're doing sort all the paperwork so that an hour and a half after I walked in, I was finished.
posted by magdalenstreetladies at 9:30 AM on January 3, 2010

Didn't seel to CarMax, but when my wife's car was rear-ended last year, as part of the negotiation on depreciated value, I took the car to CarMax and got an appraisal which helped extract a higher offer from the other guy's insurance company. The process of going in for a quote was pretty painless.
Do what magdalenstreetladies suggested, then drop the car off on the way to the airport if you haven't been able to sell it elsewhere. I have friends who did this prior to being transferred.
posted by arcticseal at 10:25 AM on January 3, 2010

To answer your question about how to maximize your price offered - clean the hell out of your car. Vacuum the interior, wash the floor mats, completely clean out the trunk and vacuum it, and wash the exterior of your car. While it seems like a lot of work, it actually can change the price by almost $300. I was with a friend in LA who needed to sell a car quickly and she took it to CarMax and the guy doing the front-end inspection told her to go home and clean it up and come back later in the day and she'd be given a better offer, since the quality of the interior is more visible, therefor, increase in price.

Oh, also, if you smoke, stop smoking in the car NOW and get some air fresheners and the replace the cabin air filter ($10 and five minutes) and you'll get a better price since smokey cars are hard to turn over.
posted by banannafish at 1:15 PM on January 3, 2010

CarMax really tried to screw me on the price of my car. My car had very low mileage because I was in school and walked everywhere for several years. The pricing guy insisted that my odometer had rolled over and the car actually had a 100k miles more on it than the odometer indicated. I pointed out that the car had none of the wear of a car driven over 100k (worn seat, worn floor mat by the driver's pedals, etc), He got absolutely belligerent and offered me almost nothing.

There are probably plenty of fair offers made at CarMax, but they certainly aren't ALL fair. Know what you're willing to accept before they assess your car. Get your quote in advance, if you can't do better in a private sale then CarMax will be an option.
posted by 26.2 at 12:42 AM on January 4, 2010

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