555 Jamil Rd * Columbia, South Carolina, 29210 * (803) 750-0856 * www.carmax.com *
We just had our Isuzu Trooper checked out for our cross country journey we’ll be taking later this week at AAA Car Care Center in Columbia, South Carolina and found bad news. Leaking head gasket that could run between $700 and a couple of thousand to repair, water in oil – possibly the intake, right outer CV Boot was busted and both the upper and lower ball joints had play in them, both of which would cost about $1400-$1600 to repair, and the air conditioner would need about $150 to get it to pump cold air again. At 170,000 miles that would of been a few thousand, and unsure of how long it would last or if it could get us across the country. So obviously, time to get another vehicle – one that could make the journey. We asked the rep at AAA if they had a suggestion of where to go, and he personally said he had a friend who worked at Carmax.com and they seemed reputable. So we thought we’d give it a try. Since we’re leaving in a week, we’re pressed on time, and Carmax not only would sell us a car at a no-haggle straight-forward price, but would buy our vehicle as well, and transfer the tag for us – simply in and out process. We certainly could have gotten more for our Trooper if we sold on Craigslist, but tallying up the cost of waiting for the vehicle to sell within a week, dealing with showing it to numerous people, haggling, etc would be more time consumption than we have. Same with going around from dealership to dealership. Then we’d be car-less looking for another car on Craigslist and having to either rent a car or use public transport with a baby. Nothing seemed appetizing in that manner, nor along our timeline. We also needed a vehicle that could easily handle the journey across the US, had a strong engine that could pull a trailer if we needed to get one, and had room for the stuff we needed to move across the movers wouldn’t be moving. Our little Trooper couldn’t pull anything over 2,000 lbs and with its issues, was a death trap thinking it could.
We drove over the Carmax, parked, and headed on into the lobby. Everything was clean, sparkling, large gallery, and friendly staff. We were offered to go look around until a sales rep was available. We pretty much looked the lot over for vans and trucks – finding a few we liked, but wasn’t really in our preferred price line as we’re the type that go for “Cheap” used car price deals you can find on craigslist, not Kelly blue book values or higher. We definitely was discouraged with the prices. So we were about to leave when the sales agent Kelsey found us, and started to show us around the insides of the vehicles we liked, the perks, told us about their 5 day return policy no questions asked, their 30 day warranty that supposedly covers anything from breaking, and their policies, and that they could evaluate our Trooper while we waited and come up with a price for it we’d get in the next 7 days regardless of whether or not we’d be buying a vehicle from them. It would take 30 minutes he said, and that it did. Interestingly enough, they gave a clear “Ok” on the engine and other mechanical issues, stating the dash needed repairs, and the front door needed repairs. Given what the other mechanics said, we were a bit surprised. It also needs a new paint job and alot of work, so wasn’t expecting being offered much, and wasn’t. I doubt they’d be reselling this one. We probably could have sold it for more on Craigslist, but given the time restrictions we have for our move, not really practical and be more costly than its worth. Plus having to register a car, stand around at the DMV all day and pay additional taxes and fees on another vehicle is another day away from packing up for the move. Carmax could transfer our tags to the new vehicle automatically in 10 minutes, and it would cost about $30. We were told by two sales reps at Carmax, the price on the window included taxes, but that wasn’t the case. Turns out the price we got for the trooper just covered the sales tax addition for the vehicle we bought, and so we therefore walked off the lot for $30 more than the window decal price.
We were stuck between a really cool van that had a roof rack, seats that folded down into the floor board, on dash navigation, and towing capacity of about 4,700 lbs or a 2007 Ford Explorer that had a towing capacity of 7,200 lbs, already had a tow bar, a roof rack, on-dash navigation, dvd player, automatically folding into floor board third row seats, (though second row didn’t fold into floor board) and everything else we needed for this journey. The Ford Explorer was substantially more affordable, so we went with that. We discovered that one on the web site with the rep and when going to test drive it, discovered that the person test driving it before us had decided to buy it and it was no longer available. We were disappointed. But then the rep said we could test drive it to see if its the kind of vehicle we wanted, so out for a test drive we went. Since we were paying cash for it, the rep somehow made it no longer “sold” and removed the “sold” tag from the rear-view window and said if we wanted it we could have it. Test drive went well, no noises, smooth sailing, good alignment, did a couple figure 8’s in a shopping lot, and gave it the speed test, and everything working. We figure if something was going to break, it would do so in this next 30 day journey we’re about to take, and it has a 30 day warranty. They did however very hard sell on the extended warranty to cover it to 150,000 miles for close to $2,000 with a $300 deductible. Given this vehicle was 111,000 and we’d be putting on about 10,000 miles on this journey alone within the 30 day warranty, I couldn’t see the sense in paying a couple of thousand to extend a warranty for just over 25,000 miles. Maybe I’m making a mistake, but right now the bottom line was saving money and we feel that if anything goes wrong, it will be in the next 10,000 miles over the next 30 days which Carmax claims will fix at their centers, which they claim are all across the country.
It took nearly the day (4-5 hours) to shop and process paperwork, transfer items from vehicle to vehicle, and process the sale. That was surprisingly long given it was a cash deal. But everyone was friendly, helpful, and non-pressured (except during the extended warranty offer). So far so good, we’re happy with the vehicle, and think we made a wise purchase. Next step is to have a mechanic check it out during the 5 day no questions return policy, and make sure its a gem as we hope to have. We’ll post updates here as our experience with car-max runs its course. Experience 8/24/13 – Sales and Purchase Rating: 5 stars out of 5.
That sunday we took a drive down to Charleston to visit our niece. After our day at the beach, the engine light came on. Vehicle was running fine, and nothing visually could be detected, but figured with the 30 day warranty I should go check it out. On monday, we dropped by AAA Car Care for a check over since we had 5 days to return this vehicle to Carmax no questions asked. AAA gave us the engine codes of concern, either a engine misfire or a catalytic converter issue. On to Carmax, they scheduled us for Wednesday to check it out, Carmax free of charge. I dropped it off on wednesday, and everything went smooth – they found that a catalytic converter was malfunctioning and had to send it off to the muffler shop. They hooked me up with a free rental car from Enterprise so I could get around with my chores. Unfortunately I still had to pay the $36/day insurance for the rental because my insurance (Allstate) only transfers over liability. That was a bit crappy since it was going to be about 2 days. It was fixed on Friday and everything free of charge, just as the Carmax warranty promised. So far, so good … I’m very pleased with Carmax. The experience at the service desk, how attentive they were, and how they saw to the issue quickly was top notch. The Enterprise rental guy however seemed to claim alot of calls come from Carmax for rentals while repairs are being done, but they do have alot more cars than any other used car dealership, so didn’t think much on that. Experience 8/25-8/29/13 – Service and Operations, Repairs, Warranty. Rating 5 stars out of 5.