This is the first time I'm writing a review.
Despite all the complaints about Carmax around the internet, I had a very pleasant experience with getting my vehicle appraised. Unlike what most people say about Carmax low-balling their offers, I was offered much more than what I considered a fair value. I'm a small 25 year old Asian kid. If they were to have unfairly lowballed their offer or try to scam anyone, I would expect that I'd be one of their prime candidates to try and do that with. I'm young, I'm Asian and I have very little knowledge of my vehicle.
I believe that the fundamental reason why people believe that Carmax is trying to scam you is primarily because people don't have realistic expectations for their vehicle. Most people think that their car is in better condition that it actually is. My car had some minor cosmetic damages, such as a small tear on the driver's seat, a lot of light scruff marks all around the car and a scratch on the front bumper. I was expecting them to knock off a significant amount for that, but I was told that minor cosmetic damages such as these were pretty much negligible when making their offer. They would start deducting for more serious damages such as dents. Other than that, for a 5 year old car, I was told that it was in very good condition. The engine and everything else checked out perfectly. Other than the cosmetic damages I've listed above, they found absolutely nothing else wrong with my vehicle. They did not try to BS a problem that wasn't there. If they indicated that something is wrong with your vehicle, then there is something wrong, whether you'd like to believe them or not.
Aside from realistic expectations, I believe that timing has A LOT to do with their offer.
I was offered $16000 at carmax for my 2007 Santa Fe Limited today. Local dealers had offered me around 11-12k a few weeks back which was slightly lower than average trade-in value of $13k found at several sites. Seemed good enough at the time. I hadn't initially gone to carmax since the closest one was 2 hours away and I was just trying to get a ballpark value at a dealership so I could just add $1000 and sell it privately as I needed to get rid of my car quickly. While looking through kbb, edmunds and nada last night, I had noticed that the value of my vehicle seemed to have gone up a couple thousand since 3 weeks ago. The average trade-in value was now at $15k. Surprised, I decided to drive up to Carmax this morning to see what I would be offered. I was expecting around $13-14k at best, slightly lower than the average trade in value found online. It was quick and painless. They didn't even ask me if I was going to be purchasing a new car. Within 30 minutes of walking in the door, I was given a written offer of 16k. I was shocked. I had a private buyer lined up to purchase my vehicle for 13k tomorrow morning. It felt as if I had won a $3000 lottery. I'm fairly certain that if I had taken my car to carmax 3 weeks ago, I would have probably been offered around $14k. This just goes to say that the market for your vehicle can change quite significantly even in a short period of time. For me, it changed in my favor. Possible reasons for the value of my car to have increase like this could be that there is generally a higher demand for used cars in the spring as car sales are usually the highest during April and May. Another could be gas prices. A month ago, gas prices were still around the peak of about $4/gal. Demand for SUVs was probably low. With the steady decline of gas prices since then, demand for SUVs likely increased. Looking through the carmax site, the same year and model was being sold for 18k. So 16k is a pretty *** good offer in my book. I also noticed that there were only a handful of Limited Santa Fe's in a 500 mile radius, with just 2 being 2007 models. They are clearly very low on stock with my model which is probably why they gave me an offer closer to retail value. If they had a high stock of my model, I'm sure they'd only be willing to take it for a much lower price as it'd be harder to move. Carmax is a business, so it's unrealistic to expect their offer to be the same as their retail price. to begin with. It's absurd to even compare their offer to what you get in a private sale. You'd obviously get more with a private sale. That's not Carmax's fault.
There are so factors involved and I think people fail to realize that there's more to it than just the condition of their vehicle. Even if the condition of your car is great, if they are high in stock of your model and there is a low demand for it, they're obviously going to offer you considerably less than what you'd consider a realistic fair value. Cars that don't sell fast just take up real estate.
All in all, I had a good experience with carmax. I believe that Carmax gives a fair price. As long as you have realistic expectations and understand that the value of your vehicle can change depending on the current market, it beats going through all sorts of crazies that you find online.
Product or Service Mentioned: Carmax Trade-in.