Why Did Carmax Give Me so Much Money for My Car?

Picture this: you decide you’re ready to sell your car, so you check out Kelley Blue Book to find out how much your car is worth. You head over to the Carmax website and enter the same information about your car as you did with Kelley Blue Book, only now your car is worth over a grand more than it was three minutes ago—pretty sweet huh?

Why Did Carmax Give Me so Much Money for My Car
Image Editorial credit: Jonathan Weiss / Shutterstock.com

It gets better. You drive your car over to the local Carmax one town away where they hand you a check, shake your hand, and send you on your way. You just sold your car—for profit—in like, under an hour. Did that really just happen?

Yes it did. If this sounds too good to be true, we’re here to tell you that selling your car to Carmax is easy and profitable—-if the market is trending high. Thinking about selling your used car? Carmax may be your best bet, but here’s what you need to know first.

Carmax’s appraisals can change like seasons

The used car market is similar to the housing market, meaning that the price you sell your asset for isn’t just about its singular value, it’s also dependent on fairweather factors like the economy or supply and demand.

Used car prices surged in 2021 due to a ton of supply-chain challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. A worldwide microchip famine was one of the biggest culprits of vehicle production shortages. These chips are vital to several vehicular functions—including the infotainment screens that are standard fare in basically every vehicle nowadays. With new vehicle production slowed way down, drivers opted for used cars, causing prices to soar well above fair market value.

Financial analysts predict that the auto production industry will make a recovery—in fact, it’s already happening. So if you want to nab the highest appraisal possible from Carmax, get while the getting is good (which is right now).

What else does Carmax look at when they appraise a vehicle?

Carmax’s appraisal process isn’t different from that of Kelley Blue Book or Edmunds, the main things they’re looking at to determine the car’s value are:

  • Make
  • Model/model year
  • Mileage
  • Interior/exterior condition

If you complete the appraisal online, there’s a section where you can disclose cosmetic damages to the car or mechanical issues. In-person appraisals come with a 125-point vehicle inspection.

The beauty of Carmax is how quickly they work. It’s routine practice for Carmax to appraise your vehicle and buy it the same day. You don’t need to advertise your car for weeks or mentally prepare yourself for an awkward Craigslist transaction when you sell to Carmax. As long as you accept their offer, you can drop your car off at one of Carmax’s 240 facilities in the US and leave with a check in hand.


Image Editorial credit: Jonathan Weiss / Shutterstock.com

What if I change my mind and want my car back?

Offers made by Carmax are non-negotiable (save the haggling for the flea market), but they do give you seven days to think it over. If you find a better offer or decide not to sell your car within that seven-day window, you can walk away from the deal.

On the other hand, if you accept Carmx’s money the transaction is complete. You might be able to buy your car back later on if it’s still available, but don’t expect it to be the exact same price as what you sold it for.

Are there any restrictions when you sell a car to Carmax?

Carmax does not do business in the following states:

  • Alaska
  • Arkansas
  • Hawaii
  • Montana
  • North Dakota
  • South Dakota
  • Vermont
  • West Virginia
  • Wyoming

Carmax will buy a car that doesn’t run (to sell wholesale at auction), but you’ll need to have the vehicle towed to the facility. In certain states, Carmax will not buy a car that has a salvage title or a title that indicates flood damage due to state regulations.

The maximum offer Carmax will make for any vehicle is $200,000—they simply won’t go any higher than that. If you have a ridiculously upscale vehicle you want to get off your hands, like that Rolls-Royce Phantom your British grandfather left you in his will, selling it to Carmax is probably a bad idea. 

Carmax has some restrictions for cars they buy
Image Editorial credit: Wirestock Creators / Shutterstock.com

Does Carmax pay more than the competition?

Research says yes. A study from Finance Buzz shows that Carmax routinely pays about $1,000 more for a used vehicle than competitors like Vroom or Carvana—especially for SUVs.

The bottom line? If you want to sell your car quickly, safely, and for a price that tends to beat out the competition, a visit to Carmax might be exactly what you need.

Written by Mary K. Cahill


Bradley, S. (2022, March 16). CarMax Review 2023: Buying, Selling, Financing. NerdWallet. Retrieved January 26, 2023, from https://www.nerdwallet.com/reviews/loans/auto-loans/carmax-financing-buying-selling?scrollTo=full-review-scroll-target

Preston, B. (2022, December 14). Used-Car Prices Are Falling, but Buying Is Still a Challenge. Consumer Reports. Retrieved January 26, 2023, from https://www.consumerreports.org/buying-a-car/when-to-buy-a-used-car-a6584238157/

Santos, J. (2021, January 19). Carmax’s Highest Appraisal Offer Will Leave You Dumbfounded. MotorBiscuit.com. Retrieved January 26, 2023, from https://www.motorbiscuit.com/carmaxs-highest-appraisal-offer-will-leave-you-dumbfounded/

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Author: Mary Cahill

Mary K. Cahill is a writer from New Haven, Connecticut. She specializes in creating content that combines the automotive world with history and pop culture. When she’s not writing, you can find her absorbed in a novel, traveling the city on foot in search of vintage treasures, or having movie night with her family.

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