Car Max vs. Auto Dealerships: Which is Best for You?

by Kelly

If you are in the market for a vehicle, you may be wondering if going to CarMax is better than going to a conventional auto dealership. The answer is that it depends. CarMax offers some advantages over auto dealerships. And for some, auto dealerships will be a better choice.

To help you make an informed decision, here is a comparison of both CarMax versus auto dealerships. In the comparison we will be looking at four categories important in the car buying experience. In this comparison between CarMax and conventional auto dealerships, we will look at inventory, negotiations, financing and finally, we will take a look at selling your car.


When you go to an auto dealership, you have a choice of new or used vehicles. At CarMax, you will be dealing exclusively with used vehicles. However, CarMax may have some cars with under a hundred miles though they won’t be brand new. Also, At CarMax, you will have a variety of vehicles from different brands, foreign and domestic. When going to an auto dealership, you may have a wide selection of one brand of vehicle and a smaller selection of used vehicles. Also, CarMax tends to have uniform standards as to what type of used vehicles they will offer. An auto dealership may have varying standards of what kind of vehicles they will offer for sale.

If you are looking for a new vehicle, then a conventional auto dealer will be your best choice. However, if you are looking for a high quality used vehicle, you may find a better and wider selection at CarMax.


At an auto dealership, you can haggle with the price of the vehicle and well as the financing terms. CarMax has a strict no haggle policy. Therefore, if you are good at haggling with prices, you will want to go to a conventional auto dealership. However, if you do not enjoy haggling over car prices, then CarMax will offer you a better purchasing experience.


A conventional auto dealership will have their own individual options when it comes to financing. And those options may be limited to the car dealership’s standards set by the brand that the dealership serves. An independent auto dealership may offer to finance the vehicle itself. CarMax will have a number of financing options that may be more extensive than those offered by a conventional auto dealership. If you are looking for more flexible financing options, then CarMax may be the better choice.

Selling Your Vehicle

A conventional auto dealership usually only accepts trade-ins. That means that they may not buy your car unless you buy one of their cars. CarMax will offer a price on any car without obligating you to buy one of theirs. And that CarMax offer will be good for seven days. If you are looking to sell your car before buying a new one, then CarMax may be the better choice for you.

This comparison is designed to simply show you the unique advantages CarMax and conventional auto dealerships offer in the car buying experience. For some CarMax will be better and for others, a conventional auto dealership will be the way to go. It is recommended that you look at both CarMax as well as your local car dealership to see which auto seller is right for you.