Because all CarMax vehicles are used, CarMax customers should consider an extended service plan, also known as an extended car warranty, which can protect drivers from the cost of expensive repairs as their cars continue to age and accrue miles. The CarMax warranty, MaxCare®, offers extended vehicle protection with multiple options that can be purchased with any CarMax vehicle. But what does it cover? Is it worth the investment? How long does the coverage last?
Below, we review MaxCare and explain why we think you’d be better off choosing an extended service plan from a different provider – namely, one of best extended auto warranty providers from our 2022 warranty study.
CarMax is a used-car retailer headquartered in Richmond, Virginia. The company is the largest used-car retailer in the United States, with over 200 locations across the country. CarMax is also notable because it allows customers to purchase vehicles online.
CarMax is generally well-regarded. Recently, Fortune ranked CarMax on its list of Top 100 companies to work for in 2020. The company has been in business for over 60 years and holds an A+ rating on the Better Business Bureau (BBB) website.
When you purchase a vehicle from CarMax, you can also buy an extended warranty directly through the company. The CarMax warranty is called MaxCare.
CarMax Extended Warranty Coverage
CarMax tends to sell used cars that range from one to eleven years old, meaning roughly half of the vehicles will no longer be covered by their original new vehicle warranty.
All vehicles sold by CarMax come with a Limited Warranty at no extra cost. According to CarMax, its Limited Warranty lasts for 90 days or 4,000 miles and covers “all of your vehicle’s important systems and hundreds of parts inside and out.” Extensive details on the limited CarMax warranty aren’t available on the company’s website, so you’ll need to contact a local CarMax to fully understand what it does and does not cover.
Regardless of how well the limited CarMax warranty protects your vehicle, the term length is only 90 days, which is a mere fraction of the time you’re likely to own your vehicle. That’s why CarMax offers MaxCare, an extended service plan program.
CarMax Extended Service Plan: MaxCare
Relatively early in the car buying process at CarMax, you’ll likely be presented with the option to purchase a MaxCare extended service plan.
Added CarMax warranty protection is an appealing option, especially since shoppers leave the lot with a used vehicle, and some may have chosen less-reliable, affordable models in an effort to save money.
Before a CarMax representative offers a MaxCare service plan to you, it’s important to know the facts. Understanding MaxCare plans can keep you from being swayed one way or the other by a CarMax representative who’s simply trying to make the sale. Here’s what you should know:
MaxCare Service Plan Details
|Covered Systems||The parts MaxCare covers include the engine, transmission, drivetrain, electronics, electrical systems, steering, suspension, cooling system, and climate control.|
|MaxCare Cost||Your CarMax warranty cost can be added to the amount you’re financing, so you can pay for it over time (with interest). Or, it can be paid for in full upfront.|
|Deductible||Each time you bring your car in for a repair, you’ll pay an agreed-upon deductible. The lowest possible deductible is $50. In most states, this deductible is reduced to $0 if you have your vehicle serviced at CarMax or a certified RepairPal facility.|
|When to Buy||You can only purchase MaxCare at the time of your CarMax vehicle purchase. The vehicle may still be under its factory warranty at this time, depending on its age and mileage.|
|Transferability||MaxCare coverage is transferable if you sell your car, but restrictions apply.|
|Roadside Assistance||MaxCare includes 24/7 emergency roadside assistance up to $100 per occurrence. However, replacement items aren’t included. For example, if you have a flat tire or run out of gas, you pay for the tire replacement or the fuel.|
|Rental Reimbursement||CarMax will cover your rental car up to $40 a day for 7 days while it’s in the repair shop.|
|Repair Facilities||You can use MaxCare at any repair facility certified by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE®).|
|Direct Payment||MaxCare will pay the repair facility directly.|
We recommend asking for a sample contract before you purchase a CarMax warranty. That way, you can read about the coverage yourself and ask questions as needed.
Unlike CarMax’s straightforward car pricing system, MaxCare extended service plan costs and term lengths aren’t disclosed online.
It’s important to note that MaxCare is sold by CarMax but is a contract with an independent third-party service plan administrator. This means CarMax dealerships aren’t responsible for any issues or problems you have throughout the course of your service plan’s term.
Here’s a sample of what the MaxCare extended service plan won’t cover:
- Regular maintenance services like oil changes and tune-ups
- Aftermarket accessories like GPS, radar detectors, and radios
- Maintenance parts such as batteries, air conditioning refrigerant, engine coolant, drive belts, and brake pads and shoes
- Modifications outside of those made by the manufacturer or its representative
- Repairs made to meet government emission standards
- Damage from collision
- Damage from negligence or misuse
- Suspension work, tires, wheels, catalytic converter, manual transmission work
- Painting, bumpers, alignment of body parts
CarMax Warranty Reviews
CarMax is a key player in the auto industry. The company has upward of 200 stores nationwide, making it the largest used-car seller in the country, and it’s known for a hassle-free, no-haggle buying process.
While car buying blogs often encourage shoppers to negotiate the price of a used car, all CarMax prices are non-negotiable. The price you see listed on the vehicle is exactly the price you’ll pay. Not to mention, all CarMax salespeople are paid on a flat-commission basis, so they have no incentive to sway you one way or another with regard to the make or model of the car you’re considering. This straightforward approach tends to earn CarMax positive reviews among consumers when it comes to the purchase process.
CarMax itself has an A+ rating from the BBB, but keep in mind that all its services are wrapped into that grade. Selling extended service plans is just a small part of the CarMax business. Because the MaxCare service plan is a contract with a third-party service plan provider, you will be working with a different customer service group when using MaxCare.
Several reviewers have noted difficulty with the MaxCare claims process, expressing frustration about claims denial.
“I bought the extended warranty, but even with that I had to fight them to cover [repairs], even when the vehicle had maintenance done on it regularly. It took almost two months to get the vehicle back.”
– Norcross, GA customer, via BBB
Our Take On CarMax: 2.5 Stars
The MaxCare warranty offers only one level of coverage and customer complaints indicate that the claims process is poor. If you buy a used vehicle through CarMax, it may be convenient to purchase a CarMax warranty, but we think there are better options for coverage. Before deciding on MaxCare, consider other third-party vehicle service contract companies to make sure you’re getting the best deal.
Advantages of Third-Party Warranty Providers
During our research of leading third-party extended warranty providers, we found that there’s a lot to like about these vehicle service contracts. For example:
- Third-party providers normally have at least three coverage levels and several contract options. For example, CarShield and CARCHEX have at least 15 contracts each.
- Many third-party providers are brokers, meaning they’re getting contracts from more than one administrator. This can lower the cost of your contract, as there’s more competition between brands.
- You can pay for your extended warranty over a few years or a few months. Some companies like CarShield offer month-to-month contracts.
- Pretty much all third-party providers include roadside assistance, towing reimbursement, rental car reimbursement, and other benefits. The trick is to compare how much they reimburse you and over how many days.
- Most third-party companies (and MaxCare) allow you to use any ASE-certified repair facilities. This can include national chains, independent shops, and dealership service centers.
Top Recommendations For Extended Car Warranties
In our research, it came down to these three best extended car warranty providers. When shopping for extended warranties, the best thing to do is call around and get quotes customized to your specific vehicle. That way, you can compare each company’s prices and get a feel for customer service.
Endurance: Best Coverage
We ranked Endurance as Best Coverage because it scored well across all our categories: coverage options, trustworthiness, cost, customer service, convenience, and additional perks.
Endurance has six levels of coverage, with the first five being extended warranties with varying levels of coverage to protect against mechanical breakdowns. The last Endurance plan, EnduranceAdvantage™, is a combination between an extended auto warranty and a maintenance contract.
Warranty plans come with a one-year Endurance Elite Benefits that gives drivers identity theft protection, total loss protection, up to $5,000 in repair loans, collision discount, key fob replacement, tire repair, and access to the Endurance Protect App.
CARCHEX: Best For Used Cars
CARCHEX is another reputable third-party extended car warranty company that’s been in the industry for over 20 years. The company offers five levels of coverage that are further broken down into a total of 21 warranty contracts. Coverage ranges from comprehensive protection that’s similar to your manufacturer’s warranty to basic powertrain protection for your engine, transmission, and related parts. This customization alone makes it more flexible than a MaxCare extended service plan.
We chose CARCHEX for the Best for Used Cars award because of is its reputation for providing a positive experience throughout the shopping process. We like how the CARCHEX sales teams take a customer-centric, consultative approach. The representatives will gladly answer all your questions along with providing a quote customized to your vehicle.
CARCHEX’s reputation has also earned the company a long list of endorsements and partnerships from trusted companies in the industry, including SiriusXM, RepairPal, Kelley Blue Book, Edmunds, CARFAX, and more.
Here’s a closer look at some of the finer details and differences between CARCHEX and MaxCare.
|Coverage Options||Minimum of four plan options for every prospective customer||Customizable coverage from multiple providers, levels of coverage, and specific plans|
|Deductible costs||As low as $50, or $0 for service at CarMax or a certified RepairPal facility in most states||As low as $0|
|When to Purchase||When you buy your CarMax vehicle||Anytime, including if the car has high mileage|
|Repair Facility||ASE-certified facilities||ASE-certified facilities|
Olive: Best Online Warranty
Olive is an upstart extended warranty company hoping to pull the industry into the modern era. Based on the provider’s 4.7-star average customer score on Google Reviews, the plan appears to be catching on.
The provider’s chief calling card is its simplicity. A digital-first interface simplifies the process of filing a claim, while below-average rates make payments easier to bear. Add on Olive’s lack of a waiting period before filing a claim, and the company appears ready to shake up the extended auto warranty space.
In an effort to provide accurate and unbiased information to consumers, our expert review team collects data from dozens of extended auto warranty companies to formulate rankings of the best providers. Companies receive a score in each of the following categories, as well as an overall weighted score out of 5.0 stars.
- Industry Standing: Warranty providers with a history of strong business practices and endorsements from experts receive the highest scores in this category.
- Coverage: This rating is based on types of extended warranty plans available, coverage terms, and added benefits like roadside assistance.
- Cost: Our research team reviews sample quotes for a variety of plans and vehicles. Companies with lower prices per year of coverage receive the best scores.
- Transparency: This score takes into account contract transparency and the availability of a money-back guarantee.
- Customer Service: We comb through customer reviews and perform our own shopper analysis to get a sense of the responsiveness and helpfulness of each warranty company.
*Data accurate at time of publication.