AutoBuy vs CarMax vs We Buy Any Car: We Compare

Short Answer: AutoBuy, CarMax, and We Buy Any Car each purchase used cars, vans, crossovers, SUVs, and trucks from private individuals. AutoBuy also buys boats and RVs. The companies’ appraisal processes and criteria are similar. However, CarMax is the only one that sells used cars itself and accepts trade-ins. All three companies require in-person inspections before making a final offer for your vehicle. Appraisals take about 30 minutes to an hour, and, after receiving an offer, you’ll have three to seven days to decide whether or not you want to sell. Below, we compare AutoBuy, CarMax, and We Buy Any Car — from accepted vehicles and how to get a quote to requirements to sell your vehicle and more.

AutoBuy vs. CarMax vs. We Buy Any Car

AutoBuy, CarMax, and We Buy Any Car are three automotive companies that buy used vehicles from individuals. While AutoBuy and We Buy Any Car purchase used vehicles to sell at wholesale, CarMax sells at wholesale and operates its own used car lots — meaning it also accepts trade-ins.

At each company, used cars are purchased on a case-by-case basis after an appraisal process. Below, we compare the selling process at CarMax to AutoBuy and We Buy Any Car.

Accepted Vehicles

AutoBuy accepts the widest range of vehicles compared to CarMax and We Buy Any Car. All three companies buy cars, vans, SUVs, crossovers, and trucks, including luxury vehicles and sports cars. AutoBuy also purchases boats, classic cars, commercial vehicles, fifth-wheel campers, fleet vehicles, motorcycles, motorhomes, and RVs.

How to Get a Quote

While you can’t get a fully-online appraisal at any of these companies, you can begin the appraisal process online and/or get a preliminary quote.

  • AutoBuy: AutoBuy does not offer quotes online, but you can schedule an appraisal online. To begin the process, submit your name, phone number, email address, and preferred AutoBuy location — along with your vehicle’s year, make, model, trim, VIN, mileage, and ZIP code.
  • CarMax: In most markets, you’ll need to visit a CarMax location to get a personalized offer, but you can check whether or not CarMax will buy your vehicle online. Enter the year, make, model, and current mileage of your vehicle to see if it’s eligible for sale or trade-in. You can also schedule an appraisal online. In select markets, CarMax provides trade-in offers online. CarMax representatives were unable to provide a list of the markets where this service is available, but we were told that the option will appear automatically on the CarMax website based on your location.
  • We Buy Any Car: We Buy Any Car gives free online valuations. You’ll need to enter the year, make, model, body type, mileage, equipment options, accident history, and condition of your vehicle. Keep in mind, We Buy Any Car may adjust the offer after inspecting the car. And, We Buy Any Car updates its online pricing tool every Monday, so if you wait until after the following Monday to bring your car in, the valuation may increase or decrease based on market conditions.

Appraisal Criteria

While companies like CarMax typically promise to buy any car regardless of its age or condition, each company has set criteria it uses to determine the value of a vehicle. In general, AutoBuy, CarMax, and We Buy Any Car consider the following:

  • Year
  • Make
  • Model
  • Mileage
  • Vehicle history
  • Condition of the vehicle
  • Current market conditions

AutoBuy, CarMax, and We Buy Any Car accept vehicles that are damaged, have mechanical issues, or aren’t currently running. AutoBuy will also buy vehicles with damage that is pending an insurance claim/check.

Appraisal Process

The appraisal process typically takes about 30 minutes to an hour. Your appraisal appointment at AutoBuy, CarMax, or We Buy Any Car will include an interior inspection, exterior inspection, test drive, and vehicle valuation (which may involve running a vehicle history report and market analysis). After the evaluation, your appraiser will give you a final, personalized quote.

You can choose to accept or reject the offer on the spot. Each company also offers customers several days to make a decision: five days at AutoBuy, seven days at CarMax, and three days at We Buy Any Car.

Requirements to Sell Your Vehicle

To sell your vehicle, AutoBuy, CarMax, and We Buy Any Car require that all titleholders show a valid photo ID and that you provide all keys/remotes and the vehicle’s title. Additional requirements are as follows:

  • AutoBuy
    • If you have a lien, AutoBuy may still buy your car but you’ll need to provide the name of the lienholder, your account number, the last four digits of your Social Security number, and cash or a cashier’s check for the balance due on your loan.
  • CarMax
    • You must show proof of current vehicle registration
    • Instead of the vehicle’s title, you can provide payoff information if you still owe money on the car.
  • We Buy Any Car
    • You must provide all available documents and owner’s manuals
    • You must provide proof of address
    • You must show proof of current vehicle registration
    • Instead of the vehicle’s title, you may bring a payoff letter if you still owe money on the car. We Buy Any Car will deduct the amount you owe from the sale price and pay you the remaining amount.

How to Get the Most for Your Vehicle

Quotes from AutoBuy, CarMax, and We Buy Any Car are typically non-negotiable. However, there are several ways you can prepare for the appraisal that will help you get the most for your vehicle.

Preparing Your Vehicle for Appraisal

Detailing your car will not get you a higher offer from any of these companies. Instead, you might want to consider getting minor repairs fixed; the better the condition your car is in, the higher your offer will be. Fixing issues like burned-out bulbs, dents, and/or worn-out parts may slightly increase your offer. Keep in mind that you don’t want to spend more than the amount a fix will increase your offer.

Additionally, be sure to follow each company’s sale requirements. If you fail to provide all of the vehicle’s keys/remotes, for example, the company may not buy your car or may give you a lower offer.

AutoBuy “We Pay the Max” Policy

AutoBuy will match offers from large used vehicle buyers, including AutoNation, CarDrop, CarMax, and HGreg. The competitor’s appraisal must include a written, cash-only offer and a full vehicle evaluation.

Additional Services at CarMax

While AutoBuy, CarMax, and We Buy Any Car all purchase cars from private individuals, only CarMax also sells cars directly to customers.

Buying a Vehicle at CarMax

CarMax sells cars, vans, crossovers, SUVs, and trucks, including luxury, diesel, and electric vehicles. Popular brands include BMW, Chevrolet, Ford, Honda, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, and Toyota. It does not buy or sell motorcycles (as previously reported).

CarMax has a seven-day return policy. You can return a vehicle for a full refund or transfer the down payment to a different vehicle; see our related article for details of the CarMax return policy.

Shopping at

You cannot buy a vehicle from CarMax online, but you can browse CarMax’s current selection online before visiting a lot. You can also place a free, no-obligation hold on any vehicle.

You can also get pre-qualified for financing at CarMax accepts applicants with bad credit and does not base its financing decisions on your credit score alone. See more about CarMax’s financing requirements and credit approval policy in our related article.

Vehicle Transfers at CarMax allows you to search by location, and some vehicles can be transferred between CarMax locations. CarMax’s website marks which vehicles are non-transferable in the search results and the vehicle’s detailed listing.

If you request a transfer, you are under no obligation to purchase the vehicle but you may be required to pay a store-to-store shipping fee. Costs vary depending on the shipping distance but are usually around $150.

Trading a Vehicle at CarMax

Because CarMax is the only one of these three companies that also sells directly to customers, it is the only one that offers trade-ins. If you want to sell your current vehicle and buy a new one from CarMax, you can follow the appraisal process as described above. Once you have an offer, you can apply for a trade-in and CarMax will put the value of your current vehicle toward the purchase of a used vehicle from one of its lots.

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