BY Owen Bergwall, Green Car & Technology Contributor Owning a…
Like most car lovers, I’m a person who can get a little attached to my vehicle. Last weekend, I parted with my 2007 Honda Civic Si sedan after a five-year stint together. I must admit that I didn’t anticipate keeping my car around for that long. I also didn’t anticipate not having enough time to sell it the traditional way.
Admittedly, I probably held onto this car a little longer than I would have others because it was the first car I bought with my “grown-up allowance.” But as a busy young professional in a major metropolitan area, it can be difficult to find time to prep your car for sale, list it and show it (read ‘countless test drives’). I mean, who has time for all that? This is exactly the problem I ran into when I was ready to let go.
Most people are probably familiar with CarMax as the place to buy a used car, but what they may not realize is that CarMax also provides free used car appraisals. In the quest to unload my ride, I actually had not thought of CarMax as the solution to my problem. A salesman at an area dealership actually tipped me off to the good deals that he has gotten by taking his personal vehicles there.
So there you have it. I decided to give CarMax a whirl for the first time. I shined up my car and drove it 20 miles south to the nearest store, making sure my husband followed in his vehicle “just in case” we made a sale.
Would Jose Canseco prove to be right?
Although skeptical about the experience I was about to have, I was greeted by a friendly CarMax staff member who directed me toward the main desk area to put my name on the list for speaking with a sales person. It was an unseasonably gorgeous Saturday, so the lot was full of prospective customers. During the roughly 30-minute wait, my husband and I walked the lot to check out their inventory – they were short on Civics (yes!).
We soon met up with a sales team member and showed him the Si. He was impressed with the exterior and set us up to have the car appraised, explaining their step-by-step process. CarMax looks at the following criteria when determining a car’s value:
- The year, mileage, make, and model of your car
- Interior/Exterior conditions
- Aftermarket modifications
- Structural damage
- A test drive for mechanical issues
- Your car’s history report for possible flood or frame damage and any accidents
We left him the keys and grabbed a bite to eat. An hour later, we returned to see what kind of deal they would offer us. Being that the car was impeccably clean, had been regularly serviced, and had fewer than 20,000 miles; I was hoping for the best – but of course, I expected a low-ball offer. I was pleasantly surprised to be wrong. CarMax offered me full private party value, which meant that I ended up driving the vehicle for roughly $1,000 per year.
CarMax not only offered me an excellent deal, but they also made signing over the vehicle a cinch. Within a few hours, I had said good-bye to “Spike” and said hello to the convenience of CarMax.
My time that day was well-served. I didn’t have to worry about placing an ad on Craigslist or screening callers who wanted to take my little rocket for a joy ride. (Not to mention avoiding that nerve racking moment when it’s time to get payment for the vehicle!)
I can definitely say that if you take good care of your car, keeping the criteria listed above in mind, then you can expect to have a better time at CarMax than Jose Canseco.
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