Traditional car dealer pricing games

Most car dealers won't give you a straight answer about price. If they lower the price of the car, they'll just inflate your financing, or lower the value of your trade-in.

At CarMax, we don't play games. But because most car dealers do, here are a few things to look for when buying a car that will help you avoid traditional car dealer games.

Online car dealer buying games

Beware of online car-buying services. There could be extra charges and hidden fees; what you see isn't necessarily what you get.

Beware of online car dealer services that...®...
show one price online and another, higher price when you get to the lot. has the same low price you see at on the car when you get to the store.
act as "middlemen" to area car dealers, charging them a brokerage fee. You pay the "middleman" mark-ups. lets you skip the middleman so you pay less and avoid mark-ups.
only offer no-haggle prices until you get to the car dealership. has low, no-haggle prices clearly marked online and on every car.
make you play traditional car dealer pricing games on your trade-in and financing. doesn't play games. Our low, no-haggle prices also apply to our financing and extended service plans.
quote features and options that aren't on the car when you arrive at the car dealership. allows you to browse actual cars that are already at CarMax locations.
Pricing games

Beware of a price that's too good to be true. When you're comparing pricing, make sure you look at everything.

Beware of the traditional car dealer who... At CarMax...
avoids being up front about price (i.e., "I have to check with my manager"). low prices are clearly marked on every car, no hassles, no haggling.
inflates your financing rate and terms if they offer you a low price on the car. you view your financing options directly from our financing companies on screen, while you and your Sales Consultant find the rate and term that's right for you.
sells you a poor-quality vehicle (like one that's been flood- or frame-damaged). we won't sell flood- or frame-damaged cars.

Used vehicles are thoroughly inspected by our technicians and come with a 5-Day Money-Back Guarantee and a 30-Day Limited Warranty (60-Day in CT, MN and RI, 90-Day in MA, NJ and NY). See any CarMax store for written details.
Trade-in games

Beware of inflated trade-in values. They may mean you're paying more for the car you're buying than you should.

Beware of the traditional car dealer who... CarMax...
won't buy your car without selling you one. will buy your car, even if you don't buy ours.
changes the price you pay on the car depending on what you'll accept for your car. will appraise your car separately from our sales process, so you get the same offer whether you're buying a CarMax vehicle or not, good for 7 days.
Financing games

Just when you think the negotiations are over, you may find out the finance manager is a commissioned sales person too. Beware of changing rates and terms.

Beware of the traditional car dealer who... CarMax...
plays with your rate and term to fit the monthly payment you expect. lets you view your financing options on screen directly from our finance companies, so you and your Sales Consultant find the rate and term that's right for you.
gives you a high financing rate and charges you a fee if you switch to another finance company. gives you 3 days to change your financing, penalty free.
sends you to a "finance manager" who earns commission based on how much you're willing to pay. lets you choose the best finance plan for your budget.
makes you wait while playing around with your financing. offers fast, online financing with most approvals in 15 minutes or less.
Sales commission games

Beware of pushy salesmen. They're pushing you to those higher priced vehicles for a reason, and it's not to help you.

Beware of the traditional car dealer who... At CarMax...
pays salespeople commission based on the profit on each car they sell. Sales Consultants are paid the same no matter which car you buy (excludes CA employees).
tries to sell you a car that's too much for your budget. Sales Consultants are trained to give you friendly, courteous service and help you find a car that's right for you.
maximizes profit and commission by basing your finance terms and trade-in offer on how much you are willing to pay for the car. prices are clearly marked on every car and there's never any price haggling or games.
uses tag-team sales tactics and "back room managers" to help get the highest total price from you. you work with one sales person from start to finish, even for your financing.
And don't forget

Finally, check your paper work to make sure all the factors add up to the monthly payment you were quoted. Ask yourself:

  • Are you getting everything you want and nothing that you don't want?
  • Is the price, including financing, what you were expecting it to be?
  • Did you get a fair value for your trade-in? Would they write a check for that amount even if you don't buy from them?