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Buying a car can be a frustrating and time-consuming activity. Any car buyer who buys from a traditional car lot knows the frustration and agony of hassle and negotiation. If your credit is a little shaky, be prepared to have lots of documentation if you can even get financed at all. There is also the endless back and forth from the finance department, the fear of being taken advantage of, and the list can go on and on.

Used car prices are going up due to COVID-19-related scarcity of manufacturing parts. Fortunately, there are a few companies out there that are trying to make the car buying experience a little less like getting a root canal. One of those companies is CarMax. But can you negotiate with them at all?

What can you negotiate at CarMax?

In short, there is nothing you can really negotiate at CarMax. The whole appeal of the company is that it is a no-hassle car dealer. You know the price you are going to pay for a particular vehicle when you walk in the door. That is, the advertised price of that vehicle is exactly what you are going to pay.

Most car dealers make a good amount of money selling extended warranties, financial products, and high-interest rates. CarMax is no different, but unlike other dealerships, these services have upfront pricing and are non-negotiable. So does this lack of flexibility mean you are stuck with whatever CarMax offers you? Not necessarily.

You should still compare financing rates

The outside of a CarMax dealership
A CarMax store in Pleasanton, California | Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

Most of the appeal of shopping at CarMax is that the buyer doesn’t have to deal with as much stress. But, for the motivated car buyer, there are plenty of ways to make sure you get the best deal on financing.

Before going in to buy your car you can shop around for the best deal on financing. Banks and credit unions typically offer competitive financing rates to dealerships. Make sure to have all of the information on the car your looking to purchase handy when filling out the credit application.

Getting a few quotes before heading to CarMax to finalize your purchase will mean you have the peace of mind of knowing you aren’t getting fleeced on financing. If CarMax offers a better interest rate than what your bank did, the choice is easy.

If you found you can get a better rate with an outside bank or credit union, simply provide proof of financing to the salesperson and you can go that route. Like most things in life, it pays to do your research when it come to financing.

Should you buy CarMax’s MaxCare warranty?

Buying an extended warranty is ultimately up to you. According to its website, every car that CarMax sells comes with a limited warranty of 90 days or 4,000 miles (whichever comes first). Beyond this initial warranty, CarMax offers an extended service plan. This is common across most car dealerships.

The price of these extended warranties can vary, and unlike traditional dealerships the cost of CarMax’s MaxCare is not negotiable. So much like the financing, it pays to shop around.

There are a slew of different third-party extended warranty companies out there. Motor1 recently complied a list of the best companies and named Endurance the top choice. Be sure to review these options carefully and weigh them against CarMax because after your purchase your car you cannot buy the MaxCare plan from CarMax.

Beyond the prices of the plans consider things like the deductible and services covered. In the end, you might just decide to skip an extended warranty all together. The choice is ultimately yours to make.

Car buying is no one’s favorite pastime. When going to a hassle-free dealer like CarMax it isn’t possible to negotiate the terms of your purchase, but nothing is stopping you from shopping around for alternatives.


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