How to File a Lawsuit Against CarMax

Buying a car can be a rewarding experience. But it can also quickly turn into a nightmare if you later discover the car had unreported mechanical issues, or the car dealership failed to honor a warranty.

What should you do in this situation? If attempts to work the issue out with CarMax or another car dealership lead to repeated dead ends, consider filing a complaint or even a lawsuit against the company. This article will explain how to file a lawsuit against CarMax.

Reasons to Sue CarMax in Small Claims Court

Small claims court is a quicker and more cost-effective place to file a lawsuit against a car dealership than a regular court. However, the maximum amount awarded in small claims court is usually $10,000 or less, depending on your state.

Some common reasons you could consider suing CarMax in court include:

  • The vehicle isn’t Quality Certified. Hundreds of drivers who bought cars marketed by CarMax as being “Quality Certified” - meaning they received a 125-plus point inspection - complained of many issues, including problems with the engine, transmission, and power steering. It could be a bad car, a lemon!
  • Mechanical issues. The car you bought quickly developed severe mechanical problems.
  • No title. After the purchase, the dealership didn’t provide title documents, and you’ve had no success obtaining them.
  • Accident history. You were told the car had no history of accidents, but you later discovered it had been involved in one or more.
  • Failure to honor a warranty. CarMax declined to pay for repairs even though you purchased warranty.

Options Before Filing a Lawsuit Against CarMax

If possible, try to exhaust every outlet before taking a car dealership such as CarMax to court.

Contact CarMax Directly

First, contact CarMax directly by sending an online message, calling your local CarMax dealership, contacting the company’s customer service line, or even sending them a message on their Twitter handle, @CarMax. Make your case to them; you might be surprised about the outcome.

File a Complaint with the Better Business Bureau

File a complaint against CarMax with the Better Business Bureau. The BBB may be able to assist you. You can also review other complaints drivers made to the BBB about CarMax and learn whether the company responded to them.

File a Complaint to a Government Agency

If you can’t resolve the issue with CarMax directly, consider filing a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission or your state’s consumer protection agency.

Send a Demand Letter

Many states require that the consumer file a “demand letter” to a car dealership before filing a lawsuit in small claims court.

A demand letter is a formal request that outlines how much money you believe you’re owed and why. Also, include your contact information and mention that you plan to sue if the dealership doesn’t respond. Give the dealership between 7 and 14 days to respond before filing the suit.

Filing a Lawsuit Against CarMax

It can be frustrating to buy a new or used car that quickly develops mechanical issues. If you think you’ve been deceived by CarMax, try and resolve the issue outside of court. But filing a suit in regular or small claims court is an option if everything else fails.

Online small claims filing services will make filing extremely easy. Their software breaks down how to fill out a form into simple steps. They take care of mailing and filing for you, so all you have to do is check your email and dashboard for updates to your case.

The Basics of Small Claims Court

If the other party doesn't respond or refuses to pay, you may need to go to small claims court. Usually, small claims courts handle cases valued at $10,000 or less, though this varies by state.

In small claims court, you will need strong evidence that the other party owes you a debt. Provide copies of the initial agreement or contract, receipts, text messages, emails or other documents referring to the case.

Usually, a small claims court hearing will take place 30 to 75 days after you file a lawsuit. If the other party doesn't respond, you may automatically have the court rule in your favor and enforce the debt.

How Much it Costs

So how much will you spend by suing in small claims court?

  • Court Filing Fees: The amount you will pay to file a small claims lawsuit depends on how much you are suing for and where you are suing. You can expect to pay between $30 to $400 to file the lawsuit. If you cannot afford to pay court fees, you can ask the court to waive the fees.  ‍
  • Serving Costs: Once the lawsuit is filed, you must notify the other party that you have sued them. This is called "serving." Serving Costs can range from $20-100 depending on the local area.

The Benefits of Small Claims Court

  1. Court filing fees are cheaper in small claims than in other courts.
  2. The process is faster in small claims than in other courts, as your hearing will usually be scheduled 30-70 days after you file the lawsuit.
  3. Lawyers are generally not allowed in small claims, which helps keep the costs of suing low.  

How to File a Small Claims Lawsuit

  • Prepare and File the Court Paperwork - If you end up in 30-40% of cases where the demand letter doesn't work, you can prepare and file the court paperwork for small claims court next. The upside is that you can typically do this yourself and don't need to send much evidence with your filing. You just need to know the name of the party you're suing, the amount you're suing for, and answer some basic yes/no questions.

Again, you can do this yourself, or use Dispute's Small Claims Filing platform, which includes online paperwork prep, live online notarization, and online filing.

  • Serve the Defendant - After the court accepts your paperwork, you have to serve your court paperwork to the defendant to notify them they're being sued officially. This is also another point where people will often realize they should settle before going to court. This is the one step you aren't allowed to do yourself. To avoid bias, the court requires you to get someone else to serve your case and file a proof of service in court (a simple statement that they swear they served the defendant). The free way to do this is to get a friend or family member who isn't part of the case to help you. The hassle-free professional way to serve court papers is to hire a process server and let them take care of it.

Taking the First Step in Your Lawsuit

If all of this work seems complicated or daunting, rest assured that it's easier than it initially seems. 2.7 million small claims court cases are filed annually in the US, which is only growing as more people realize how easy it is to enforce their legal rights in court.

There's no rush. But when you're ready to sue, you can get started with a simple demand letter online. Please get in touch with us if you have any additional questions.