CarMax - Is this really how car buying should be??

The CarMax promise!

We visited CarMax so frequently, I had actually taken this picture to prove a point to the manager. So, this is their promise. But, do they stand behind it?
We visited CarMax so frequently, I had actually taken this picture to prove a point to the manager. So, this is their promise. But, do they stand behind it? | Source

CarMax - We don't sell Junk!

After all the positive reviews I have heard about CarMax, I knew the next car I was going to buy from a dealer would definitely be from them. After all, I have bad car karma. I don’t know why, but every car I have ever gotten from a dealer has had issues with brakes, transmissions or airbags. With their reputation, I was hoping for a whole new buying experience.

When you go to CarMax, the first thing you will notice is a totaled car. Above it is a sign saying we don’t sell vehicles that ever looked like this. It isn’t the exact wording, but you get the point. So, if they do this million point check and they don’t sell vehicles that have ever been in accident, I should be pretty good? Right? Right!

Of course, anytime I am buying a car, I am skeptical. After all, I have had such bad luck with past cars from dealerships I can only assume I am heading for another bad car karma experience. However, unless you have been with me for the ride, you really wouldn’t be familiar with the truly bad car karma I have.

Bad Car Karma

While I had a car in high school, it wasn’t until I joined the military I had the first opportunity to buy a car that cost more the $1000. These first couple of cars had metal cancer, but they ran. So I can’t really couldn’t complain. However, once I left home I sold the car so it wouldn’t be sitting around while I went through Basic Training and AIT. A week after I sold it, the car started on fire while driving down the freeway.

Knowing I couldn’t walk everywhere once I was on active duty, I knew it would only be a matter of time before I ventured onto a car lot. And that I did. I bought my very first car without any help. A 1994 Teal Geo Prizm. With the exception of nothing being automatic, this was my dream car. It ran like a champ and gave me hardly any issues. Then, I found out the tires were wearing prematurely because of a bracket in the front. It had been damaged in an accident. I couldn’t fix the part, and suddenly it was starting to nickel and dime me, so I traded it in and got a new vehicle.

Now I could go on and on about all the cars I have bought from dealerships… and how each and every one of them would run beautifully on the lot, but once off the lot and in my possession, the hidden problems would start poking through. It has been 12 years, and between my husband and I, we have had 13 cars in our possession. With the exception of 1 which was totaled in an accident, majority of the cars bought by dealers have given us issues and we were forced to replace.

What's your opinion

What do you look for in a car?

See results without voting

Finding a ride....

Last September, my husband and I were discussing vehicles. I was driving around in a Ford Escort ZX2 and he was driving around in a Ford Escape. My ZX2 was a charmer, but it had one problem… it no longer fit our family. We needed to find a bigger vehicle. My husband’s vehicle was big enough for us, but suddenly started having problems with the entire brake system. If his vehicle were to ever go to the shop, we would not be able to use my vehicle as a family vehicle because we were a 5 person family, and there were only 4 seatbelts.

Upon my husband’s research, he found CarMax. At the website, not only could he get approved for financing, but he could also pick out the vehicle he wanted to go home with. So, once we were approved, we found what we wanted and set up the appointment to take a look and sign the paperwork.

Yes - it was that easy!

When we got to CarMax, we were in awe by the gigantic size of this business. It seemed clean cut and the staff were overly friendly. So far so good. Then they went and got the car we were interested in. I took one test drive and decided there was no way I was driving this car home. We needed a family car, and while this vehicle had enough room, it sounded like a race car. (That of course is being nice! Every time I hit the gas pedal, the car was so loud I thought my ear drums were going to burst!)

I nicely declined the vehicle and told the salesperson the reason why I didn’t want the car. She tried to explain to me that was the way it was supposed to run. I don’t buy the excuse, and I don’t buy the car either.

6 hours later

So my husband and I were on the search for another vehicle in the lot. We test drove vehicle after vehicle until we had it down to two that we liked. And then we argued. He wanted the Mazda CRX7. It was a pretty car, it ran awesome but… it also required premium gasoline and got poor gas mileage.

It was pitted up against a Chrysler Sebring with leather seats and automatic starter and all the bells and whistles, minus the kitchen sink. The Sebring was not only my dream car from when I was in high school, but it also got better gas mileage and the backseat was much more roomier for the kids.

The Sebring won. However, in hindsight, I wish we would have gotten the Mazda.

Our New Car - Thank you CarMax of Milwaukee

We left the dealership with the promise of guarantee. If we didn’t like the car in 5 days, we could bring it back with no questions asked. About 6 days later, the brake light went on.

We called the dealership and were forced to bring it down. There fix, it was low on brake fluid!

Now this may seem like a dumb question, but if a car is about to be sold, shouldn’t all the fluid levels in the car be topped off?

This was already starting to look like a bad investment. Yet, I loved my car. It moved and hummed to the pavement. It had a moon roof, which was about as close as I was going to get to a convertible. And minus the little issue, which was about to be fixed, it was supposed to be our dependable car.

Are you driving around a lemon

Once the dealership starts knowing you on a first name basis because you have brought your car in so many times, that might be a sign that you have a lemon on your hands!
Once the dealership starts knowing you on a first name basis because you have brought your car in so many times, that might be a sign that you have a lemon on your hands! | Source

Has it happened to you?

Have you ever boughten a car that you would consider a lemon?

See results without voting

Fast Forward

This story could get overwhelming if I start listing all of the times this car has gone into the shop and back. So I am just going to state some of the things that have happened with this car.

In December, we made the move to California. We thought it would be smart to sell our other vehicles and just keep the dependable car. Yet, it was long after we got to California, the car was in the shop over here, for some of the exact same problems.

Once again, the brakes were bad. Once again, the airbag light had gone on. And once again, the check engine light was showing us there were problems.

We took it into the Riverside CarMax dealership. As per our warranty, the brakes would not be covered. That is considered maintenance.

Now, in my mind, I don’t consider the brakes needing to be replaced after less than 6 months of ownership. This was not a sold as is kind of deal. If I would have bought this off a private party, yes, I would have been annoyed, but I would have sucked it up. So, I do what I do best, and I threw a fit. They ended up fixing the brakes… for free. They also fixed the other issues as well… or so they thought.

A few months later, the lights started flashing on again. We would bring it to the dealership, and they would show no record of the lights ever going on. They acted as if we were lying to them. Now, why would I ever make up that my car was having issues?

In April, we took a trip across country to visit family. My Great Grandma wasn’t doing so good, and since it was spring break, we took the trip through the mountains to see her for what could possibly be the last time. (She is still alive and well… our car however, is not!) As we are driving down the mountain, I can tell the brakes are starting to go. The breaks that had just been replaced not even 3 months earlier. The car was shaking so hard, I could barely hold on to the steering wheel to keep it straight.

When I informed CarMax of this, they told me we needed to replace the brake pads. Now, I was pretty sure they just fixed the brakes… so again… my question… Should I really need to be doing routine maintenance on a car that I haven’t even owned for half a year? Shouldn’t this all have been taken car of before it was sold?

Do you suspect you have a lemon?

Unfortunately, the lemon law varies from state to state. Therefore, what might be true for Wisconsin, might not be true for the state of California. However, it doesn't hurt to contact a lemon law attorney and know your rights. Most likely, car manufacturers would rather handle a case through mediation instead of going through a court case.

A funny story...

As I was talking about the lemon of the car I bought, my mother-in-law suggested I sit out front of the dealership with a sign that said, "Beware! This isn't a dealership. This is a lemonade stand!" Apprarently, this is a true story. Someone else who was having car issues did the same thing when they weren't getting the outcome that was needed. Instead of dealing with the bad publicity, the dealership made a deal and they ended up trading there car for a new one! Just goes to show you sometimes need to be the squeeky wheel!

Couldn't you do it right the first time CarMax of Riverside?

Fast forward a little bit farther ahead, and not only is our brake light flashing on and off, but our airbag light is going on and off, and so is the check engine light. If my car was green, it would have been Christmas in the middle of the year. Expensive, only without the presents in return!

We have now been dealing with all of these issues for several months. From late August, early September to June. Finally, in June, we had the timing right. The check engine light had gone on again. We drove straight to CarMax and it was just our luck, the light finally remained on. Skeptical, we kept the car running while we grabbed a technician. We wanted to prove the light was on. I was sick of feeling like I was the crazy person here!

After I had several people verify the light was on, they hooked it up to their machine. Nothing. The machine never detected the light. They finally realized after all of this time, that even though the light wasn’t going on, they couldn’t read it. Their reader and our car were not compatible. They had to bring our car to the dealership and they got us a rental car.

Two weeks later we finally had our car back. It finally ran the way it did when I first drove. The way it did before all the lights started coming back on. I finally thought we were done with this nightmare.

The light is on... again?

Wouldn't you throw your hands up too if the same problem was repeatedly getting fixed?
Wouldn't you throw your hands up too if the same problem was repeatedly getting fixed? | Source

Present Day

The vast majority of this hub was written in June. It was written from a very angry perspective as I was frustrated. I personally wasn’t too nice to any of the people that worked at CarMax. I fully understand it is nothing personal. They personally, aren’t the ones who sold me this heap of junk. However, they are the representatives of this company. They are the ones responsible for making sure the customer was happy.

In June, we discussed with the manager about having the car recalled. The airbag light had already been fixed 3 times; the check engine light as well. As we left the car dealership, I saw the manager take a sigh of relief. I knew after I laid into them, they did not want to be seeing me anytime in the near future. I was hoping that I could say the same for them.

It is now October. We are now 4 months after the whole fiasco. A few weeks ago the heater went out. Now, I don’t know why the heater would go out, nor did I really car. After all, I live in California. However, the windows still need to be defrosted in California when there is a massive drop in temperature. So here we are, faced with another safety issue. Yet, we took a deep breath. We really didn’t want to go through this again.

Then the airbag light started doing it’s on and off game. Again, deep breath. It isn’t staying on, so there is nothing CarMax can, nor will do!

Then last night, my husband sends me a text message. The whole entire dashboard of lights is on. The car is stalling. The car is resisting and kind of steering. The car is resisting any kind of braking. Mind you, this is in Rush Hour traffic!

Back at the shop again, only to wait. It was now next time and now it is time to see what CarMax was going to do. The Manager knew the history, and knows this isn’t going to be fun. And we are once again playing the waiting game to see what is going to happen to the car.

Done with the games...

My husband has insisted he is not driving this car anymore. It is going through an electrical breakdown and has given us more issues than it is worth. After checking into it, the manager’s response is they will not be able to replace the car for one that works since we have put on too many miles. They will however fix it.

Here are my questions?

  1. If you spend $15,000 on a vehicle, how many times do you expect to be bringing it to the shop for something that is not routine maintenance?
  2. Who is the determining person that decides how many miles is too many miles to be put on in a year? And how many of these miles were put on because we were driving back and forth to the shop and taking test drives to make sure the vehicle is working again?
  3. If your cars are supposed to be the best of the best, why is it that you refuse to fix the one person who is having a serious issue with their car? After all, good customer service is key. Or, am I not the only one having the same problem? To a multi-million dollar company, $15,000 is a drop in the hat. To a family of 5, that could be equivalent to half a year’s worth of earnings!
  4. Who should I send the bill to for my husband missing work because of how many times he has had to bring this car in?
  5. How many times should you have to fix the same problem? Shouldn’t once be enough. If that isn’t doing the job, don’t you think there is something else wrong that you aren’t catching?

And the fight begins!

As of right now, our car is still at the shop. We have been told what was wrong, and it is the same things they have already fixed, plus some. And the airbag light sensor, well, the computer once again isn't reading it. If the warranty covers this, we will most likely have to pay the deductible. And once again, the customer loses.

So, I am starting a fight. And I can get rather loud and rather vocal. Originally when I started this article, I decided not to publish it. I did not want to tarnish the CarMax reputation. Yet, it seems I don’t need to tarnish their reputation. They are doing the job all by themselves.

Many suggestions were made as to how to deal with this situation, such as calling them 3 times an hour to check the status of our "new" car. Nothing would motivate them more then talking to me all day long. Yet, I don’t have the time to be calling them 3 times an hour and every time I call them, I only get the answering machine anyway. So, it would be a wasted effort.

So, this is where you come in. I am looking for a shout-out! I want to get this shared with as many people as possible. I would love your comments but mostly I would love it if you share this with everybody you know. I understand things happen and I do know there are some people out there who have had a great experience with CarMax. Yet, for my family, they have been unwilling to stand behind their product!

So please, it only takes a minute. Let’s get this article to go viral. Just go up to the top and push those buttons. Post it to your Facebook page, tweet it to your followers, one up it on Google, or even send it in an email. Hopefully if we stand together, no one else will have to deal with this kind of situation again!


As of Oct. 9th, we were able to pick up our car from the shop. The car is running like it should be again, and we were given a free pass on the deductible for having so many issues. We will see how long the car wants to behave this time.

More by this Author

Comments 56 comments

Old Poolman profile image

Old Poolman 5 years ago from Rural Arizona

Interesting hub that many can relate to from personal experience. Many states have Lemon Laws that may or may not be able to help you.

I would personally rather have a root canal than go car shopping. A trip to a car dealership can make for a horrible day for most everyone. I feel your pain.

I suspect this same situation existed back when people had to buy horses, and they dreaded the day the way we dread having to buy a car.

Great hub and good luck with your battle.

RealHousewife profile image

RealHousewife 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO

Good luck Stacy - I certainly won't be purchasing any vehicles from Car Max or refer anyone unless I hear they fix your problem. The old threat was "the rule of ten". If you piss one person off they would tell at least ten other people about it. Now it appears to be "the rule of oh at least 491 plus a couple hundred thousand.".

Fair is fair and they need to sell you a good car or fix yours. I, for one, am tired of being ripped off by car salesman and seeing it happen to others.

Austinstar profile image

Austinstar 5 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

Reminds me of the Seinfeld show where he bought the car that smelled.

It's always buyer beware when buying a used car. Make friends with a good mechanic and when you test drive the car, swing by and let him check it out. A shop will also do this for a fee, but that can get expensive. Sell the car asap and find another one. That sucks and I hope you find a better deal.

barbergirl28 profile image

barbergirl28 5 years ago from Hemet, Ca Author

@Old Poolman - Thanks for the encouraging words. I really hope this works out to our advantage. The hardest part is that we purchased the car in Wisconsin and are now living in California. While trying to deal with lemon laws are difficult enough, we had to add that into the curve. In addition, I know in Wisconsin, the lemon law does not apply to used cars. But, I have a few things up my sleeve. I was looking up lemon law lawyers and it said that if there was information withheld, that we could have a case. I would prefer to keep lawyers out until it is really necessary. I do however know that they told us after we purchased it, that the car had been in a minor accident. Funny, since the picture up top says they don't sell cars like that. Unfortunately, we had already spent 6 hours deciding, we were tired, and we had already signed the papers when that happened. I hope this doesn't go on too long, but we should see how it is running now. I guess we are getting the car back tomorrow and suppossedly the manager is still looking into what kind of deal they can make. But, out of sight out of mind, I doubt he is going to work too hard on it once we pick up the car!

barbergirl28 profile image

barbergirl28 5 years ago from Hemet, Ca Author

@Real - the problem with this hole situation is that typical lemon law - at least the way most people understand it before doing any research - is if a car has the same thing fixed 3 or more times, it falls under the lemon law. We have already had the airbag fixed 3 times (and the light flashed on again, but they couldn't find it!) and now we have fixed the vacumn leak in the engine I believe 3 times. They tried to tell us all of these problems were because we had put excessive miles on the car. Ironically, the car they loaned us was a lot newer (I believe a 2010) with 51,000 miles while ours only has 61,000 for a 2007. Gee - I think that is doing pretty good. I still wouldn't refer anybody to a CarMax even if they do fix our problems. They have fixed them several times already. They need to now stand behind their vehicle and exchange it with something of greater or equal value. And heck, the cars they have loaned us... I am not so sure I want another vehicle from them. One of them had the check engine light go on as we were borrowing it. See - bad car karma all around! LOL

barbergirl28 profile image

barbergirl28 5 years ago from Hemet, Ca Author

@Austinstar - Unfortunately because of the sheer amount of the loan, and only having 1 year into it, we won't get enough to roll over the loan. That means we can wait until the warranty runs out and figure out something then... or we can buy a new car without trading in and throw them back the keys. I also wonder if we call the bank with our issues if that would make a difference. I might have to check into that as well. The funny thing about this car was it ran like a peach when we test drove it... but it didn't take long before it was a POS. Sucks though, you should get so much better when you are spending that much money. I think I might just stick to the vehicles on craigslist... at least then I would be more understanding if they started having issues! :)

drbj profile image

drbj 5 years ago from south Florida

What a sad, depressing, expensive experience, bbg. Perhaps CARMAX stands for CARs with MAXimum problems. Good luck with your 'uphill' - in more ways than one - battle.

JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma

barbergirl, you have my sympathies! Dealerships and used car lots are, at best, a gamble. I've had the best luck with dependable cars from private individuals selling the "extra" car no longer needed because the child who drove it had gone off to a college with plenty of public transportation. Or the little old lady selling her deceased husband's car that hadn't been out of the garage for months before he died.

lishalove98 profile image

lishalove98 5 years ago from 1234

ok ???

barbergirl28 profile image

barbergirl28 5 years ago from Hemet, Ca Author

@drbj - That is a great way to say it. It reminds me of how people say Ford means Fix Or Repair Daily and Kia is Killed In Action. But I absolutely love love love your new way to say CarMax. We should be getting our car back this weekend. We will see if they finally fixed it... and hopefully they will be finding a solution soon.

barbergirl28 profile image

barbergirl28 5 years ago from Hemet, Ca Author

@JamaGennee - It seems to me that I have never had luck buying at a dealership, however buying a car from an individual can go eitehr way. I have had some great cars that way, and I have had some really bad that way. I once bought a Toyota from a private person. They fudged the paperwork and I wasn't familiar with what needed to be done. Needless to say, we gave them a donation of our money because we could never register the car. Then, we found out it had an exhaust leak to top it off. What a complete hassle. However, lesson learned. I just hope the next car we get isn't nearly as mentally exhausting.

barbergirl28 profile image

barbergirl28 5 years ago from Hemet, Ca Author

@lishalove - I guess I don't undersand your comment, so it is hard for me to respond. It isn't a good experience and I really hope this will either help fix the issue or warn others about dealing with businesses that don't stand behind their products.

CarMax Britt 5 years ago

I'm the PR Manager at the CarMax Home Office. I am sorry to read of your troubles. I've shared this with our Corporate Customer Relations team, but also hope you will call us at 800-519-1511 so we can look into this further for you.

barbergirl28 profile image

barbergirl28 5 years ago from Hemet, Ca Author

@CarMax Britt - Thank you so much for commenting and looking into this situation. I will have my husband call you since he has been the one dealing with this and the one that has been dropping the vehicle off every time.

Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

I see that you've gotten a response which is good. I just hope that CarMax Britt is able to do something for you. I will share this though :)as I have seen so many people get royally screwed by used car dealerships, new dealerships and mechanics as well.

dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

For better or worse I have usually bought my cars from private parties.If you know anyone who has worked as a car salesman it might be a good idea to take them with you shopping as they should know the tricks of the dealers. If not that then a mechanic. A lot of fix-it shops will inspect a car for about $50, last I checked. They may not catch everything but probably the major problems.

NMLady profile image

NMLady 5 years ago from New Mexico & Arizona

OK I will help you go viral.

Cos. take advantage of us and the only way we can counter-balance that is to TELL people & give them bad press. Then maybe they will be more careful/helpful.

That said, I will NEVER purchase a car from a lot again. We have purchased our last two cars from the Internet and a private person.

The Internet way is the easiest. It allowed me to bid cars just like a business would do. I got a great price. AND I told the Internet dept. sales guy that 'if we get there and the car is even a NICKEL above our printed out Internet price, we are walking....' 'cause I had that happen once...'oh they forgot to put these many costs on the total price.....'

We are still driving that car and it is nudging 200,000 miles. I have no intention of purchasing a car anyway but Internet.

The party we bought our little truck from was a guy who used the truck to deliver parts. It is a bare bones truck but does the job we need for our little garden, landscaping, and household jobs.

Don't you just hate the car buying system? I mean, you just know they are looking for ways to make you pay the highest price possible so they can brag to their buddies.

Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

dahoglund, 50.00, I think I had better move back to the states. Mechanics up here charge that to just lift the hood :)

profile image

vinsanity 5 years ago

I bought a car that had just had the oil pan fixed and sure enough two months later the engine seized up because all of the oil had leaked out of a broken oil pan...

profile image

marellen 5 years ago

What a horrible experience and I'm sorry that your family is going through this. We have a local TV station here in Sacto that deals with problems like this. I would see if you have the something similar in Riverside and give them a call. They will probably air this story and CarMax sure as hell doesn't want this kind of publicity. If you're buying a used car its always a good policy to purchase the extended warranty through the dealership or have a mechanic with you or somewhere you can have a mechanic check the car out. I really thought CarMax was a reputable place. good luck!

felicitylovespari profile image

felicitylovespari 5 years ago

My dad bought a 3 year old Jeep Grand Cherokee and he did really well with it. The Car Max down in Costa Mesa.

DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 5 years ago from Oakley, CA

UGH!! What a horrible mess! I'm so sorry you've been through that. Knock wood, we've never had problems with any of our vehicles that were not either simple fixes, or that we could not deal with ourselves.

I sypmathize, and I understand your ability to "get vocal" when receiving crappy service...I, too, am able to tell managers what I think in no uncertain terms, and have done so many times, on various customer service issues.

I will certainly contribute to spreading this around for you!

barbergirl28 profile image

barbergirl28 5 years ago from Hemet, Ca Author

@Just Ask Susan - I was pretty excited about getting a response. I gave my husband the number and hopefully he will get a chance to call them sometime today. I know he already sent a letter to corporate and he hasn't even got the notification that it was received. It is a messy situation, I just hope that they will fix it!

barbergirl28 profile image

barbergirl28 5 years ago from Hemet, Ca Author

@dahoglund - funny that you mentioned taking a car salesman with me to purchase a car. When I worked as a barber in Wisconsin, a good percentage of my clients were car salesman. They kind of taught me the tricks of the trade, but, with a lower economy, I was feeling pretty bad for them because the business wasn't nearly as lucritive as it used to be. Thinking back, I wish I would have brought them with. The car overall was worth the money spent... if it would have just stayed out of the shop. I think the problem with the car is something that they continue to miss. Especially since it is the same thing over and over again. That means they are fixing what has broken, but not fixing the reason why it keeps breaking. It is frustrating and I hope they can remedy the situation. It is just sad because while I normally don't trust car dealerships, I thought this was on the up and up since they had such a good reputation. Just goes to show - you always are taking a chance.

barbergirl28 profile image

barbergirl28 5 years ago from Hemet, Ca Author

@NMLady - Thanks so much for helping out a fellow writer. Glad to see all this support out there to help spread the word. I probably wouldn't have gone this far if they would have listened about 6 months ago. We were telling them they needed to replace the car and stand behind their product. It started feeling like we were getting the blow off - and so I took the additional step. However, I will give them kudos because they haven't been charging us the deductible. But maybe that is because it is the same issue over and over again.

I might have to check out the internet car buying. Never even heard of that before. I need to get a good dependable vehicle because buying a car is the worst thing ever.

barbergirl28 profile image

barbergirl28 5 years ago from Hemet, Ca Author

@vinsanity - I once did that to my mom's car. The oil pan got a leak in it and I got about a mile from the house and it blew up. That was a bad day, but at least it wasn't a mechanics fault. I hope they were able to remedy your problem. When that happens, it is a very expensive fix!

barbergirl28 profile image

barbergirl28 5 years ago from Hemet, Ca Author

@Marellen - We are very fortunate that we purchased the carmax care plan. It is only good until about 98,000 miles, which means we have a couple options. If they don't do something before them, we will be forced to either give the car back to the bank or trade it in. I was really hoping this car was going to be the one I drove until it died. Now, we are looking at replacing it already. Makes me mad because the only reason we went to the dealership in the first place was to get a nice and newer car that we could keep around for awhile with few problems. Oh how wrong we are! I guess that is the way things end up going.

I know in Wisconsin they had investigative reporting with the TV stations. If we talk to corporate and they don't start talking deals, the TV station might be the next step to go. We are taking it slowly. If we push too hard, they won't be willing to work things out anyway.

Like always - thanks for the support!

barbergirl28 profile image

barbergirl28 5 years ago from Hemet, Ca Author

@felicitylovespari - That is the hard part of this whole hub. CarMax does have some nice cars on the lot, and this is going to trash there reputation. What happened to us can happen at any car lot - sometimes there is just a car that is a lemon. The part that really infuriates me was they say they don't buy cars in accidents, but after we had signed the papers, they went and said... by the way, this car was in a minor accident. By minor, I usually think someone ran into a pole, but nothing at high speeds or setting the airbags off. But, the problems we are having with this car is showing this was not a minor accident, but a major accident. We have had the airbag light flash on more times than I care to count. That shows it has been deployed before. I could be wrong - it is speculation since research shows this is an issue specific to just our car.

However, I am glad your dad was able to find a good vehicle out there. For the most part, I do enjoy the way CarMax is set up - from financing to selecting your vehicles to the salespeople that do not follow your every move as you are looking. It might be awhile before I trust CarMax again, but if they rectify the situation, I might give them a second chance. As of now - I will find a different car buying solution.

barbergirl28 profile image

barbergirl28 5 years ago from Hemet, Ca Author

@DzyMsLizzy - Thank you for your support and for spreading the word. The situation has been frustrating. We got our car back last Sunday and we drove it last night to a friends house (half a mile away) and it is starting to do the shuttering thing again. Problem is, if no lights come on, they won't fix it. But, looks like it won't be long before the light comes back on! So, hopefully the situation is remedied through it.

I know when it comes to poor customer service, I have a tendency to get very vocal when they aren't doing a good job at it. Maybe it is because of my experience in customer service type business. I make them very well aware that if they don't improve their service to benefit the customer, I will be that squeeky wheel that they won't get away from! :)

Heather McMillan profile image

Heather McMillan 5 years ago from Hampton, VA

I am sorry for you plight. I plan on looking for a new car in a few months and I will not be going to CarMax after reading this. It is disgusting how much trouble you have had an instead of just fixing the problem or letting you out of the deal/giving you another car they just keep wasting your time on the same problems. I personally hate dealing with car issues as well as buying a new car. My only saving grace is my dad and brothers are my mechanics, so they come with me when I go to look for a car. Regardless of how much I may like the look of a car, if dad says its got issues, I don't buy. Needless to say, he will be coming with me again, an we have one dealership to scratch of the list. Sure hope you will get a resolution that is in your favor. An I plan to let anyone I know to stay clear from CarMax as well.

barbergirl28 profile image

barbergirl28 5 years ago from Hemet, Ca Author

@Heather - Thank you so much. I really appreciate it and I am glad that I can throw this warning out so others don't end up in the same deal. Buying a car sucks for the most part, but when you buy a car and spend that much money on something and have nothing but issues, it is even worse. Glad you have your own mechanics though... that is a definate great thing to have on your side! Good luck on getting a new car!

RealHousewife profile image

RealHousewife 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO

I just tweeted it out:) lol Keep it going!

barbergirl28 profile image

barbergirl28 5 years ago from Hemet, Ca Author

@Real - Thanks so much. I hope this gets read a lot more times than what I have in my stats. Sometiems it is important stuff like this that often times gets looked over! :)

Raven 5 years ago

I bought a car from CarMax. Want to hear my story? Tough.. here it goes. After an entire year my car is running great. I have had zero issue with it. Wanna know a trick? Don't buy american cars. Your husband lined up a nice Japanese car, which mine happens to be, and you passed it up. CarMax charges a premium for their cars, thats a fact. But, you can be sure they didn't get their cars from some person that drove said car into a river or flipped it a million times. Thats the point. Your car is having so many issues because of the type of car it is. Do all American cars have issues like that? No. But, they aren't made as reliable as the imports. Another thing... You talk about how loud this other car is, yet you don't even mention the make or model. From the looks of your story you know little about cars. As far as I am concerned that car probably was supposed to sound like it did. Speaking from experience I have heard some moderately loud cars that I have also heard other people claim to be "extremely loud". The point is.. this discredits your whole story. All you people sit here and talk about how you are gonna spread the word how bad CarMax is. Your opinions don't mean anything to them. There are millions of other people with well working cars that will tell good things about them. What word you should really be spreading here is research your cars better. Also, don't blame the middle man. Last I checked there is no brand of car by the name of CarMax. And I promise your CarMax didn't sabotage your car before it was in your hands. I hope the best for your situation, don't get my wrong. I am just sickened by your story and the people commenting on it. Luckily once I post this I will never think about it again. Take care.

barbergirl28 profile image

barbergirl28 4 years ago from Hemet, Ca Author

@Raven - I am glad that once you posted your comment you will never have to think of this again. The car that was too loud for me was a Dodge Calibur. Not my type of car and I will probably never buy it. But then again - I am not the type that would buy a muscle car either. Not my choice. This story has nothing to do with the "lack of knowledge" I have in picking out a car. Unfortunately you are very right to the fact that I have had bad luck. I have often times researched my cars and have asked people about their luck with the cars they have had. That is how I try to make my decision. That being said... even if a million people have loved the car, there might be one person that has bad luck. There is a reason there are lemons out there. However, I will buy American. Why - because I am American. But I am not going to get into politics over here. The fact is, when we went to CarMax asking for help ... they twiddled their fingers. They have posted comments and have become aware of the problem and have publicly extended their sympathies for our bad luck. Yet - when it came right down to it - they never followed through to really stand behind their product that they sold. Sure - there is no car out there that is branded as CarMax - however they have been branded as a company that takes pride in what they sell. This car that we bought - a Crysler Sebring - has issues that aren't associated with any other Chrysler Sebring in the same year. This is specific to the car.

I am glad that you have had good luck. But the point of this article is... this is a customer service issue. PERIOD. If they would have stood behind what they sold - there wouldn't have been an issue! Yet - we had the same issues fixed over and over again. So what does that show you. Maybe it isn't the company; maybe it isn't even the car; maybe it is their mechanics... but like I said, this was more of an issue with their customer service. I am sure majority of their cars are worth the extra money - mine however was not. Glad that you didn't have the same experience and I still hope others will read this to be warned. If they do deal with CarMax - they might not be getting the satisfaction that they so boast about.

Me 4 years ago

Looks like you are commenting on the car type. Chrysler has a terrible reliability record. Looks like a questionable car choice.

barbergirl28 profile image

barbergirl28 4 years ago from Hemet, Ca Author

Actually it is more to do with the service for not being able to fix the issues with the car... and when it comes to questionable car choices, it really comes down to who you talk to. After all, they can't all be bad. If they were, then we wouldn't see any cars on the road. However, CarMax did a lot of finger twiddling while we waited for them to resolve issues on a car that had obviously been in an accident and fixed to last a short time. They suppossedly don't sell cars like this. While some may have good experiences with the company, I will stay away because bad car choice or not, with their thorough inspections to make sure they sell top notch cars, that car should not have passed. Then, their inability to fix the car, followed by not standing behind their company motto of only selling the best. If they would have stood by what we were told to expect out of them as a company - this article would have never been written - even with all the problems we had on the car.

As I have clearly tried to state - this is a customer service issue and has very little to do with the actual car type. Some people are Ford buyers, Some by Chevy's and Some by Cryslers while others buy foreign. To me - that type doesn't matter - but the customer service does!

Chuck 4 years ago

I have bought from CarMax twice and both vehicles were very good and lasted a long time with very little problems. The best thing to do is to research automobile brands and models on the internet and view customer ratings for the different brands. I have known people that owned The Chrysler Seibring and it was a poorly constructed vehicle back a couple of years ago. The new ones may be better now. I would recommend a newer Ford product, Toyota or Honda; just my 2 cents worth.

barbergirl28 profile image

barbergirl28 4 years ago from Hemet, Ca Author

@Chuck - Thanks for your 2 cents worth. There are plenty of people out there that have had good luck with Car Max... that being said, there are plenty of people out there that have had good luck buying used cars off people on Craigslist. This article has very little to do with the actual brand of the car... but is pointing out how little they stand behind the products they sell (if this car is known to have issues why would they sell it and how could it pass what they call their vigorous test!) So, the short and sweet - When we bought the car, I was pleased with the whole experience... in fact, I said it was probably the only place I would ever buy another vehicle again. That being said, it was their follow up and how little they did to stand behind their certified used vehicle that was in the shop a week from when we bought it, and continually ended up in the shop. Which (by the way - a week is too long to exchange it and get your money back and because we drove so far, we could not get back within the 5 day time frame) Yes, we bought a bad brand car that has occasionally had issues, but what car doesn't... the thing is, their customer service was less than ideal! So, if your interested in a good company with good customer service that stands behind what they sell - not the place to go.

In Riverside 4 years ago

We also bought a car from Carmax in Riverside. After 4 months we found out all four tires were bad ( 8 years old) and in need of replacement. We called Carmax and they told us - we would have to replace them ourselves ! We had to pay for them ! We went over to Firestone for tires and they said all four tires could have blown at any moment - the tread looked good but each tire was so old that it was an accident waiting to happen.

What a rip off from Carmax of Riverside.

barbergirl28 profile image

barbergirl28 4 years ago from Hemet, Ca Author

@In Riverside - I am sorry to hear of your issues with the tires... that is just horrible. Especially knowing that they stress how they check and recheck all their cars to ensure you get the best possible vehicle for your money. While I dint' buy my car from Car Max in Riverside, my car did get fixed by them several times. That being said, they gave us loaner cars. Almost every single one would be returned with the check engine light on. I don't trust their mechanics for as far as I can throw them. Not to mention, one of them was so huge they actually broke the driver's side seat. Was not impressed with them before - definitely not impressed with them when my leather seat is crushed!

Lance 4 years ago

Did you conduct any research on candidate vehicles, and their component failure rates before stepping on the lot? Because it's plausible, and in the Sebring's case absolute, that you bought a vehicle with known issues.

barbergirl28 profile image

barbergirl28 4 years ago from Hemet, Ca Author

@Lance - Actually, before we went down to the lot we had a completely different vehicle picked out. The Sebring wasn't even in our sight at the time. However, after a 2 and a half hour drive (this was a special trip) to go look at the car we wanted, the car drove horribly. Therefore, we set our sights out at the other vehicles in the lot. We should have just left at that - that was on us. Especially since we didn't have any research done on the car we choose. However, that being said, after CarMax's promise of exceptional quality vehicles, I didn't really think it should have become that big of a customer concern! I was wrong. But, the car isn't what irks me about this whole thing... things sometimes just aren't what they are meant to me. CarMax could have remedied this situation by good customer service. If they would have taken the time to value their customer - this situation could have been avoided.

Margaret Scarboro profile image

Margaret Scarboro 4 years ago

Nice article!

barbergirl28 profile image

barbergirl28 4 years ago from Hemet, Ca Author

@Margaret Scarboro - Thank you - I really want to get the word out about how sometimes these places aren't what they seem!

profile image

Enginerd84 4 years ago

I am actually disappointed that this article was on the first page of Google when I searched "How to Buy a Car at Carmax".

Based on your article and the statements given in the comments, you did not follow ANY of the cardinal rules of buying a car. That is why I am most disappointed that this managed to get a spot in the top 10 on the search.

As mentioned before, of all car manufacturers save perhaps some European ones, Dodge/Chrysler in the 90s and early to mid 2000s had the WORST record for their cars. The company was built around trucks and minivans and only after the oil price spike and recession did they finally go bankrupt and start to get their act together. Maybe they are finally starting to build reliable cars since they have been taken over and recapitalized, but their reputation had gotten so bad that they no longer even promote their top selling Ram trucks on the Dodge website. They have begun marketing those completely separately.

The reason I think nobody should give this article much credence is that you went on to the car lot, didn't like the car you went to see, and instead bought another one that you had not researched at all. Carmax does not exclusively sell any one manufacturer, they sell EVERY manufacturer. Their technicians are not going to be very familiar with any one vehicle, unless it is perhaps a Camry, Corolla or Honda Civic as those are some of the most common vehicles in America.

I agree to a certain extent with Raven, especially regarding Japanese cars. They are the most reliable you can find. Should have bought a Camry or Accord instead. Perhaps their customer service was not ideal and perhaps their technicians missed a bunch of problems, but I think that in this case the buyer is as much to blame as the dealer for the problems experienced. Never buy a car without doing a ton of vetting. Never drive off the lot with a car the day you first test drive it. Never.

Save buying a house or a boat or very expensive jewelry, a car is the biggest purchase a person is every going to make in their lifetime. Ignorance about what you are getting is the worst thing you can suffer from in this situation. The guy selling you the car is not going to inform you, for the same reason as the technicians being unable to fix the problem. He sells hundreds of different models, he is clueless about any one in particular.

barbergirl28 profile image

barbergirl28 4 years ago from Hemet, Ca Author

@Enginerd84 - I am sorry that you are so disappointed about finding this on page one of Google, but thanks for letting me know. That in itself makes me happy because I know it is getting exposure. I never once admitted to knowing anything about cars. Therefore, I could do a ton of research and probably still buy a lemon. However, the Sebring was a car that I have seen around and talked to others about. They had no problems. But, I am not a trained mechanic and as long as the car looks nice and gets me from point A to point B, and fits my family, that is what I look for. I trust that companies want my business and will go the extra mile to get it. Mind you - I did not go to CarMax because I thought they were shady... I went because they stood by their cars and guaranteed us a good car buying experience.

However, you have misunderstood the whole purpose of this. It has nothing to do with the type of car it is... or even how to buy a car. It has everything to do with the customer service of the situation. This should have been remedied. We even called the finance company and it wasn't until we decided to give the car back to them and stop dealing with it constantly being in the shop that they made any attempt to become the middle man in this situation. That being said, this is not about researching the proper car to buy... this is about customer service. I do appreciate your comments, but I am not interested in the history of all these different cars. I am interested in a company that stands by the product they sell... even if they aren't the ones that made it. BTW - the car that we bought - didn't have any specific problems listed... this was all very car specific. That means it was the one car... out of all the same make models and year... that was having these issues. Therefore, it was a lemon. That is what it really came down to. I did my research and I was very well aware of the type of cars Sebrings were before I purchased it, which is one of the reasons I was ok with buying that car.

profile image

Enginerd84 4 years ago

I know what the article was about which is why I expressed my disappointment that it was on the first page of the search. Since you want to highlight customer service, your questions:

1. The amount you spend on a car has no bearing on the number of times you have to get it serviced. I dont believe any car is really a "lemon" if it has been manufactured in the past 10 years. Cars get termed a "lemon" when they keep having problems, but this is almost always more the cause of not being fixed correctly the first time than anything else. All of the issues you had were repeat problems, so it seems they must have never really been fixed right in the first place or else they would not continue to happen. You could get a brand new car for $15k or a used car for $15k and you might suffer the same fate, the price you pay for a car has nothing to do with the number of problems. A friend of mine has a fully loaded BMW 335xi and says it is in the shop constantly. That car cost 3 or 4 times what you paid.

2. Nobody determines how many miles should be put on a car each year but you. Cars are built for endurance and are meant to be driven 365 days a year 1 mile a day or 50 miles a day. I have a 5 year old car with close to 120k miles on it now. Anyone that tells you that you are driving a car too much and that is causing problems is insane. If you were told you were driving it too much you should have asked to see where in the sales contract it says X miles per unit of time that the car cannot be exceeded without major mechanical breakdown.

3. As used cars go, they do have a process where they check out the car to make sure it does not have any noticeable defects. However, back to my previous point, these are not guys that are professionals when it comes to every single car that they sell. Their "Certified Pre-Owned" car is in no way the same as a Chrysler dealer selling you a "Certified Pre-Owned" car because the Chrysler dealership is going to have someone looking at the car that has worked on a ton of those same or similar models. Carmax does not. Also, the term "Certified Pre-Owned" in the English language means about the same thing as "Pre-Approved" for a credit car. All that really says is they "certified" that someone owned the car before they sold it again. Anyone with decent vision can "certify" a car as "pre-owned". Just like the bank has "pre" approved you for a credit card. You arent approved yet cause they haven't checked your credit history. Thus, you are "pre", i.e. before approval. So dont put a ton of credence in the "certified" pre-owned cause it really is not saying much at all specific.

4. I actually think this one is kind of funny based on my background. I used to work for a company that sells satellite televisions. I worked in technical support and fielded calls all day from people with problems. More times than you know have I heard the "I didn't go to work today waiting for the technician and I lost $X hundreds of dollars, who is reimbursing me for that?" When you own things, have kids, basically live a life as anything but a homeless street beggar there is a good chance something is going to go wrong eventually. The more things you own, kids you have, etc, etc the greater the chance that you are going to have unexpected things happen. Do you bill your kid for getting sick and having to stay home with them all day instead of going to work? If the car was really costing you lost wages that amounted to more than what you would have lost bailing on the car, why not bail on the car instead of sticking with the aggravation?

5. See above. Based on the story the car was never fixed in the first place. In my reading on the internet about Carmax, people love the sales process, but hate the service department. This is true of most places that both sell cars and fix them. Buying a car is fun and can be exciting, getting it fixed sucks. Most extended warranties that you buy allow you to get the car fixed anywhere (or at least at a Chrysler dealer for instance) because they figure out the problem and then call the warranty company for approval to fix the problem. If you have an extended warranty on the car you should check into this because if you arent satisfied with where you have been taking it there will be alternatives that still cost you nothing since you have an extended warranty.

Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

I read this late in the day and am glad for your encouraging update. I also found the comments interesting, especially the one from Enginerd84. Why shouldn't a person drive a car off of the lot the first day you test drive it? Will it change that much on the 2nd day? I really don't understand his reasoning. This is the first article I have read about CarMax. I thought that they checked cars from top to bottom before selling them. Discouraging to read about your experience. Not exactly like their ads on television. Up and interesting votes. Tweeted.

barbergirl28 profile image

barbergirl28 4 years ago from Hemet, Ca Author

@Peggy W - This article has proved very interesting. Some people have thanked me from warning them about this company, while others have called me stupid for not doing my homework first. The real thing is, they promised to sell you a quality vehicle and they did not do that. They are false advertising, at least in my opinion. This hub actually had Car Max contact me through Twitter and even in the comments on this hub. However, when I tried to get a hold of them by the means they instructed me to, I got sent in the same exact loop. I am so glad I no longer have to deal with this car. We even called the bank we got the loan through to see if they could do anything about it. Funny, they said they wouldn't but when we stopped paying them they finally wanted to help us. People are selfish and only want what is best for them at the time. So helping us with an issue was never a priority until it negatively affected them. In this case, all parties are wrong! It really is just kind of sad!

@Enginerd84 - I am sorry I didn't respond back to you 3 months ago. I was not notified of your comment until I saw Peggy write on on here. I will say one thing is certain: When buying a car, CarMax had the best "buying" experience. They were the easiest when it came to get all the paperwork done and test driving and the staff was friendly. The service department was also friendly. I may be blaming the middle man here for a bad car, but all I really wanted was for them to stand by what they sold, especially since they stated up front that they don't sell "lemon" vehicles. I understand things occasionally need to be fixed or you have to take time off work to deal with life issues. However, repeated offenses I don't find acceptable. This was what we were going through and I am sure anybody else would have felt the same way if they went through this. They couldn't fix the issue and they should have come up with a solution. Instead, we bailed on the car because our warranty was about to be up and without that warranty, we would be losing more than just time and missed work, the repairs were coming with a substantial price tag. I am glad to be done with the headache though. And I will continue to warn people about CarMax. And I know there are some that have had nothing but good luck with them. My brother-in-law bought a couple vehicles from them.

suzyframe 4 years ago

Thanks so much for sharing this information! I have been looking into used cars colorado springs co and how they might be able to assist me with the help I need. Can you tell me where I can find more information! I have been doing some research and have found this website helpful as well:

barbergirl28 profile image

barbergirl28 4 years ago from Hemet, Ca Author

@suzyframe - Good luck finding more information.

cur1yone 4 years ago

I just purchased a car from Carmax a couple of weeks ago. On our test drive there was a noise that the salesman said was ice coming off the tires. I was skeptical, but loved the car and figured it was maybe the stocks in need of repair. We purchased the vehicle with intentions of bringing the car back in within their 30day warranty. Day 19 of owning the vehicle we bring it in to investigate the noise and low and behold the transmission was shot and the brakes were rusted and pitted. Shouldn't the brakes and transmission been checked when they did their Certified Quality Inspection? What else was missed on their“inspection"? Now I don't want the car but they are saying I can't give it back because it's past their 5 day money back guarantee. Didn't they misrepresent the car to me? What can I do?

barbergirl28 profile image

barbergirl28 4 years ago from Hemet, Ca Author

@cur1yone - I am sorry you had to go through this. Unfortunatetly, we got stuck with the car and kept having to bring it in for repairs. We were fortunate that it was under warranty.... but it was our only vehicle which meant it was a lot of lost time bringing the car in and out over and over again. Spread the word so others don't fall victim to the same scam. I think it is shameful. We had no other option than to just give the car back to the bank. We couldn't deal with it anymore. However, it also ruined our credit because of that decision. :(

JojoDVM 3 years ago

Im curious what kind of a response you got from their "customer care" representative who contacted you here...Luckily, I did not purchase a vehicle from them, but instead took one to sell to them...a nice Jeep Rubicon who's only flaw was needing a new set of tires...I am just tired of paying for more vehicles than I can drive...they made a decent offer, not overly impressive, but was still enough that I didn't want to haggle with tire kickers and list it myself...I didn't take a ride with me and their offer is good for 7 days, so I thanked them for their time and left...upon getting back in my jeep I noticed all the station presets were gone the same as when you disconnect a battery...I thought perhaps they were indeed as thorough as they claim to be and had load tested the battery or checked the alternator perhaps...went home and parked it...about 6 hours later went to leave and it was dead...not a little dead, so dead there was not a flicker of light from anything...I suspected mebbe they failed to get a battery cable snug since the battery is only a year old and had no issues the hood...cables are snug but the cap over the cells is off and barely hanging on under teh battery clamp...guess what my battery no longer has any of? acid...I refill with water having no acid at home and manage to charge it...let it run in the driveway for 45 mins...4 hours later completely dead again...battery is shot...Carmax's answer? well we don't check that, but I can ask the appraiser if he saw anything with the battery...HUH? if you don't check that, what in the world would he have seen? I'm currently waiting for the call back to see what amazing piece of information they have for me regarding the appraisers "non-checking assessment" of the battery...I don't expect much more from their customer service rep. but I'd like to be surprised

barbergirl28 profile image

barbergirl28 3 years ago from Hemet, Ca Author

@JojoDVM - Wow... well I have bad news for you. Their customer service did nothing for me. I have no faith in their service department and frankly one guy actually broke our seat when we took it in for repair. We ended up walking away from the car after we financed another one. There was nothing more that we really could do.

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.

    Click to Rate This Article