This used-car superstore has more than 100 outlets in 27 states and promises, "We'll buy your car even if you don't buy ours." Edmunds has used this service many times when selling long-term test cars and we've often been pleasantly surprised at the high prices CarMax has offered. Sometimes the used-car chain offers us less than we expected, but it at least gives us a guaranteed back-up plan and we can decide whether it is worth our time to try and improve on the offer. As one CarMax salesman once told us, "Our checks don't bounce."
Inspection takes about 30 minutes and the trade-in offer is good for seven days. Some customers have found that the best way to dispose of their old cars is to negotiate a deal for a new car elsewhere, then sell their old one to CarMax, where the prices are typically better than at a traditional dealership. Another effective strategy is to get the CarMax estimate and list the vehicle for about $1,000 over the CarMax offer in a free online classified. If the vehicle doesn't sell in six days, you can take it back to CarMax and sell it there before the offer expires.
Factory Trade-In Programs:
These alternatives are really for a future trade-in, not the current one. If you buy a new Subaru or Tesla, the car comes with a guaranteed trade-in price. For example, Subaru's Guaranteed Trade-In Program states how much a Subaru dealer will give you for the car when you bring it back later as a trade-in. For some, this removes the doubt about the impact of depreciation. The buyers can, in a sense, see into the future and know what their new car will be worth as a trade-in. This trade-in price is available for six years.
If you finance your Model S electric vehicle purchase with Tesla (admittedly, a small pool of people), the company guarantees that the car will have "the top residual value of any high-volume premium sedan brand (Audi, BMW, Mercedes or Lexus)" after three years of ownership. Buyers will get a "resale value guarantee" letter shortly after they purchase the vehicle, according to Tesla. The method to calculate the value and to cash in the offer is somewhat complicated and is outlined on the Tesla Web site.