Ever wish you could sell your Tesla online as easily as you can buy one?
Online dealerships like CarMax have heard our plea for car-buying ease and tell us that they have stepped into the gap and solved our problem.
It looks so simple: get an online offer at the click of a button, answer a few quick questions, and BAM! CarMax has your Tesla’s quote right there on the screen.
But there are a few things CarMax doesn’t tell you about your Tesla’s “hassle-free offer.” We’ll cover those problems with five reasons not to sell or trade your Tesla to CarMax. Then, we’ll share a better alternative for getting the most money for your time when selling your Tesla online.
Reason #1: You’ll Make Less Money on The Sale
CarMax definitely has something right when they talk about convenience. But how much are you really willing to pay for convenience when it comes to selling your Tesla to CarMax?
As a dealership, CarMax exists to make a profit by buying and selling cars. That’s pretty much business 101 right there. CarMax’s profit comes from selling your Tesla at a price you could be getting in a private sale.
At least, that’s how it works at a basic level.
What you may not realize is that CarMax’s valuation on your Tesla is not just based on a service like KBB or Edmunds; they also factor in whether or not they want to sell your Tesla on their lot or send it to auction off to yet another dealership. More than half the cars that CarMax buys go straight to the auction lot, where CarMax can’t be sure of a selling price. That uncertainty pulls cash straight out of your no-hassle CarMax offer…often to the tune of several thousand dollars. This is especially true if you try to sell an older Model S, Model X, or Roadster with CarMax, as only the latest model years tend to end up on the lot rather than the auction.
Bottom line: selling your Tesla to CarMax means less money for you if you have a newer Tesla and a LOT less money for you if you have an older Tesla.
It’s also not as no-hassle as they claim, which brings us to our next reason:
Reason #2: The CarMax Hassle Factor
While it’s true that the online CarMax quote on your Tesla is as easy as clicking a few options and submitting your VIN, that quote is actually still up for negotiation.
Except, in this case, negotiation means that CarMax can adjust their offer price after you drive up to the lot. To be clear, CarMax gets to negotiate; you don’t.
Did we mention the in-person offer acceptance clause yet? You have to have your car inspected by CarMax at one of their locations for the offer to mean anything. Meaning, of course, that you have to be close to a CarMax location to really take advantage of their convenience. Otherwise, you’re looking at a road trip that may end in CarMax offering less for your Tesla than you were expecting from their online quote.
And all the paperwork of a private sale that you were hoping to avoid? Guess what! You still have to bring most of those papers with you in order to walk away with a CarMax check.
To sum up, selling your Tesla to CarMax means you will still have to travel to the dealer, find out from a salesman if your quote is as good as they said it would be, and locate most of the same paperwork as you would in a private sale.
Want to know another reason that you probably won’t get a great offer when you sell a Tesla with CarMax? Hint: it’s a major (and expensive) perk in a Tesla that CarMax doesn’t care about. Read on:
Reason #3: CarMax Can’t Really Give You Credit for Unique, Tesla-Specific Software (That YOU Purchased)
Cutting-edge software is part of what makes Teslas unique, but your software’s value is a gaping hole in the quote algorithm of online dealerships like CarMax. They don’t include the value of EAP and FSD, or care which Autopilot hardware your Tesla has. None of it matters for their offer.
The thing is, CarMax really can’t rely on Tesla allowing them to transfer software to their buyers. Tesla has reportedly stripped software from dealership sales in some cases, and trends in how they interact with dealerships suggest that they will continue to do so.
Your Tesla’s software only has value to you in a private sale. You paid for your software, and you’re the only one who can offer it to your buyer, so why take the loss from selling your Tesla to CarMax?
There’s another gap in CarMax’s algorithm that you should be aware of, and we’ll look at that gap next:
Reason #4: Rare Tesla Options are Not in the CarMax Algorithm
Just like their blind spot when it comes to your Tesla’s software, CarMax’s inexperience with Tesla options that have high value to the Tesla Community will prevent them from giving you a fair valuation for your Tesla.
There are a few key areas here that are worth mentioning:
- Rare Paint Colors: Signature Red or discontinued colors like Obsidian Black or Silver Metallic are hard to find and have extra value for collectors.
- Founder’s Series: These are the limited production run Teslas. If you’ve got one, you know what it cost you ($$$).
- Free Unlimited Supercharging: While this is one of the coolest features on an older Model S and Model X that has real-world dollar value when it comes to charging up your Tesla, Free Supercharging only transfers in a private party sale. As with Teslas that have EAP and FSD, a quote to sell your Model S or Model X with Free Supercharging to CarMax will never give you credit for this perk.
- The Model S with a Panoramic Sunroof: Okay, the Pano Sunroof might not qualify as a value-added rare option to some, but we think it adds to the cool factor of your Tesla.
Speaking of online dealerships and the Tesla community, here’s our next reason:
Reason #5: The Tesla Community Suffers a Bit When You Sell to CarMax
Teslas are still in high demand! You have a Tesla. What does that mean for middlemen like CarMax? Buying your Tesla and selling it as high as possible is a no-brainer.
For used Tesla buyers, though? They are now stuck paying a premium price to enter the Tesla community unless they can find a better deal through a private sale. Which, of course, they are very much willing to do.
One of the big benefits of used Tesla sales is that buyers who couldn’t previously afford a Tesla are ready and eager to pay for one at a reduced price, even one that sits a little above market value. Your Tesla could be sold at a better return to you and a lower price point for the buyer through a private sale. Win-win. You get the satisfaction of knowing that you boosted the Tesla community effort through your sale, and your bank account gets the satisfaction of a larger check.
Bonus Reason Not to Sell Your Used Tesla to CarMax
If you’ve made aftermarket modifications to your Tesla, CarMax (and most other online dealerships) will not give them the credit they deserve. In fact, CarMax’s algorithm can reduce their offer if aftermarket mods were made regardless of the money and time that went into them.
If this is your Tesla’s situation, you are much better off putting your efforts into a private sale.
Aftermarket modifications shouldn’t be a negative factor. At Find My Electric, we give you the freedom to explain your modifications and how much they add to the value of your Tesla.
But more on that in a minute. Let’s take a last look at CarMax and the other service they offer for your Tesla: a trade-in.
Why You Shouldn’t Trade Your Used Tesla in to CarMax
If you’ve read this far, you already know that the CarMax algorithm can’t give you credit for software purchases, doesn’t take into account rare options, won’t acknowledge your aftermarket mods, and doesn’t value lowering the price of entry for the Tesla community. But let’s suppose that there is another factor that might sway you into driving out to the CarMax lot: the tax break for a trade-in.
Supposedly, you could manage tax savings on your next vehicle if you trade in your Tesla to CarMax instead of selling in a private sale. But that valuation ignores two very important facts that we’ve already touched on:
- CarMax is giving you a lower value for your Tesla than you should be getting, all things considered.
In other words, you get less for your Tesla.
- At the same time, CarMax will only be trading you a vehicle from their lot with prices already jacked up for profit.
In other words, you pay more for your next car.
Bottom line: even with tax savings factored in, you probably won’t even get close to a better deal with a trade-in on your Tesla at CarMax than you would in a private sale, and your trade options are limited.
This is especially true if you are trading in an older used Tesla to CarMax for a newer Tesla (think Model 3 or Model Y). You’ll get an auction lot low offer for your Tesla and pay a sales lot premium for theirs. Not a great combination (for you, anyway…great for CarMax, though!).
Selling privately allows you the freedom to take your money anywhere and buy your next car without limiting you to CarMax’s premium-priced stock lot.
Which brings us to…
The Best Alternative to CarMax for Used Teslas: Find My Electric
We don’t keep a car lot, send cars off to auction, or make you drive all the way to our headquarters (please don’t, actually, that would be awkward for everyone). What we do is help Tesla owners like you sell your car through our online listing platform.
Find My Electric wants to empower you to make the best return for your investment in your car by giving you an online sales platform that you control. Here are three reasons why you should consider selling your Tesla with our help:
1) You Are in Control of Your Selling Price
At Find My Electric, you get to set the rules on the value of your Tesla, not an algorithm. You are the one who knows what you paid for your Tesla, and you can negotiate directly with your buyer on a peer-to-peer basis. What we do is provide the structure, listing moderation, and image hosting necessary to drive prospective buyers from all over the country in your direction.
2) You Can Decide the Value of Your Tesla’s Features
If you’ve got software, mods, and rare Tesla options and features that buyers are after, we provide listing options and filters to help your prospective buyers find your Tesla more quickly.
If you need some ideas on how to adjust your price for these options, we’d be happy to help. Feel free to reach out!
3) Your Listing Gets Seen by the Best Buyers
We are big supporters of the Tesla community; that’s why we built this Ultimate Tesla Marketplace! At Find My Electric, we want to see Tesla owners have the best online listing experience possible while strengthening the community through private party sales.
You deserve top dollar for your Tesla, but you don’t have to go it alone when it comes to selling your Tesla online. Check out our Free and Featured Listing Packages to get started!