TrueCar.com is the online home of TrueCar, an online service who says their goal is to provide consumers with access to price transparency and upfront pricing on new and used automobiles.
How Does It Work?
As most people who have ever purchased a new or used car are aware, there is always the ability to negotiate price of the car you are trying to buy, to at least some degree. Some prices are negotiated by trading in your old car, and some prices are negotiated simply by haggling over the price.
The goal of TrueCar is to help people who are planning on purchasing a new or used car see the prices that people in their local area are paying for that exact same make, model, and year of car, so they can use this information in their price negotiation.
Their website claims that they have created “an intelligent, data-driven online platform” that is powered by proprietary data and analytics – meaning that they are the only platform that has access to these data and analytics – in order to transform the car buying experience for their customers.
If you become a registered user of TrueCar, their website says that you can take this information to one of their registered dealers and present it as a “Guaranteed Savings Certificate” which can be applied to the price of the car you have chosen. The website says that TrueCar and their certificates save the average user $3,279 off the cost of a car.
And though customers may think this seems like a service that would upset car dealerships, TrueCar says this isn’t the case. Their service lets them point informed, committed buyers in the direction of dealerships that they have partnered with, making it a mutually beneficially relationship.
At this time TrueCar does not charge their customers any fees for their service. Instead, they are able to collect fees from the Certified Dealers who are connected with their service, and in some cases they also receive fees from automobile manufacturers and third-party service providers.
Because this company does not charge their customers any fees for their service, they also do not provide a Refund Policy for their customers at this time. They do accept fees from the dealerships they partner with, but these dealerships will need to speak with their account representative in order to have their situation addressed.
Customer Service Contact Info
Customers who would like to contact their Customer Service team with any questions, concerns, or complaints can do so by phone at 888-878-3227, by email at [email protected], or by submitting them directly to their website through their Contact Us link.
The reality of TrueCar appears to be very mixed. Looking for general reviews online actually shows quite a few negative reviews, but customers who take the time to read through them will see that nearly half of these negative reviews are from people who have never actually used TrueCar, but who believe they can explain why it is a scam anyway.
Once these reviews are filtered away, however, there are still a significant number of people who claim to have had poor experiences when trying to use TrueCar information to purchase a new car. Some customers claim that they offered a lower price than TrueCar suggested right at the beginning of the negotiation, meaning that if they would have begun the negotiation with the TrueCar information they actually would have paid more money for their car.
Other customers have said that the information they found on this website was simply wrong or out of date or that the dealerships they were pointed toward actually wouldn’t honor the price discount that TrueCar said they would.
However, there are many other customers who have said that the TrueCar information truly helped them in their negotiation and made a difference to their car buying experience. The bottom line appears to be that since this service is free, customers should treat it as one of many resources they can use to buy their new car; not the only resource.
Competitors and Alternatives?
There are many other websites which try to assist customers with their purchase of used and new cars, including Consumer Reports and Edmunds.com, so customers who are looking for different or additional information to what they find on TrueCar will be able to find other sources.
If you have any experience with this company or their products, please leave your TrueCar reviews below.
134 ‘TrueCar’ Reviews
My experience with TRUECar was not a positive one.
1. I used TRUECar too soon, before we decided on exactly which model we wanted. Unfortunately, three dealers now had my phone number. And dealers who have your phone number do not use other means of communication, no matter how hard you try to carry on a discussion over email.
2. TRUECar gave me MSRP and average actual purchase price of a given model (in my case, for a Prius V Model Three, $29,320 MSRP and $28,251 average price paid). But when I click on "View Pricing on Local Inventory" it shows me two very different numbers (again for Prius V Model Three, $28,060 MSRP and $27,163 average price paid). So TRUECar has trouble presenting a consistent view of its own numbers.
3. The certificates it gave me were a joke--above MSRP or "visit your dealer".
* "Your Guaranteed Savings Certificate is for no more than $304 above MSRP for any in-stock 2017 Toyota Prius v Three."
* " Your Guaranteed Savings Certificate is for no more than $1,059 above MSRP for any in-stock 2016 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid XLE."
* "Savings data not available for this vehicle. Visit your dealer to get available savings."
Without TRUECar's help, I got $3700 below MSRP.
4. TRUECar only applies to in-stock vehicles. You can see that if you read enough of the fine print, but I didn't notice it. Since none of the dealers had exactly what we wanted, TRUECar was not useful unless we compromised on something.
5. The second time through TRUECar web site with a different model, it notified dealers more quickly than expected. I thought I was still entering information when I started getting calls from one of the dealers.
True car is an ESTIMATE ONLY. A guideline. And not accurate. DO YOUR HOME WORK. I don't care how smart you are or think you are, this is not a game in which you win. You only can hope to not lose to badly.
If you are on a budget, like most people, then you need to know BEFORE YOU WALK IN, exactly how much money you can spend every month for the next 5-6 years. INCLUDING TAX & LICENSE.
Whatever you are told the sales price is, figure the T&L in your area and add that in, because it can change your monthly note by $30 more a month.
True Car is a guideline. A marketing ploy to get you into the dealer. You will never pay the True Car price because it is a lie. All rebates, by law, come AFTER you factor in Tax & License.
The question you need to ask is: WHAT PRICE AM I PAYING TAX & LICENSE ON? When True Car shows you what you "should" pay for a new car, it reflects ALL the rebates and discounts to give you a net price and that IS WRONG.
Forget every number you are told. Know the number that you can afford and the car you want and then fight like hell.
Said they would not give out my email until I granted permission; first lie. Then, when the email pricing came in from actual local dealers, their pricing was thousands more then TrueCar advertised, second lie. Will not offer opportunity for a third!
If I could give truecar 0 stars, I would. Its a sham that costs dealers $400 per used car and $300 for new cars. It gives the dealer a lead and even if you buy a different car, the dealer still has to pay them. That cost me money!!! Truecar didnt save me a penny never use them for a lead
eight dealers, NONE would sell at TrueCar price. ALL tried to switch me to a more expensive model. Sell their stock!!!!
Truecar nor Edmunds can give any buyer the true cost on a vehicle purchase unless they can do one thing. They must be able to run a credit report on every single buyer that is searching. Car purchases aren't based on MSRP or Dealer Mark Downs. They are based on credit worthiness. Example Dealer advertises vehicle for 20,000.00 3K less than MSRP customer A has 700 Beacon Score and several TRADE lines. This customer will receive a better rate and term based on his or her score. Customer B looking for same exact vehicle same features with 625 Beacon and No Trade lines will get a less than favorable term and rate and thus spend more for the same vehicle out the door. Ultimately all the numbers given buy Truecar are subjective from dealer to dealer. Some dealer price cars on volume some based on local or product availability. These platforms are marketing and scam people with huge ad budgets. The average car buyer is generally uneducated about the entire process thus always paying more than they should. The best way to purchase a car is to do your homework on all the dealers in a certain. Look at the reviews from past customers sometimes cheap is always the best. Look at the service department reviews also this is a huge factor one should consider. And always before you go shopping know your credit score and try to negotiate your financing in advance through your own finance lender. This will give you the ability to leverage that information at the dealership in your favor. The other thing is to always negotiate price before you tell the dealer you have a trade if you have one. But TrueCar and Edmunds are hacks. Every person that says they got a better deal says that because they were caught up in the hype. Haggling is always the best way to get the best deal.
What a scam. There was no car waiting at the dealer. It's just a way to get you in the door of a select group of dealers that paid to join the club. The dealer I went to was only interested in up-selling me on a car that cost 10k more. bait and switch?????
Did anyone really think that dealers could go from making several thousands of $$$ on a car...to just giving you a car "at cost" over night? LOL!!! Of course, it's a lead generator! The only one making money by using TRUECAR is.....TRUEcar! Dealers provide a valueable service and the overhead and vehicle selection they offer costs millions of dollars to maintain!!! They deserve to make money on you....and you don't deserve to know the cost of their inventory anymore than you deserve to know what that can of soup or that Shirt or that bouncy ball costs from Walmart (which you would never think of negotiating the price with). Most dealers make about 5-10% on a car. When's the last time you shopped at Walmart? They have products that are marked up thousands of a percent!!!!! Did you DEMAND to see their invoice? Did you negotiate their PRICE? Well, why not? Why are they allowed to keep their costs secret and fixed....but, car dealers cannot??? Hmmm....
If websites like TRUECAR and others like it start to gain traction, then it will ruin an already hurting industry. But, why should you care? You're just entitled to the "lowest price", right? You're just "entitled" to the best deal, right? Well, Imagine this....what if you had to reveal to the world your pay. And what if.....a website came around that exposed your salary or commission and let people know that you are available to work for FREE just to make them happy?. HOW WOULD YOU FEEL? I hate stick and move "charlatans". So far....TRUECAR is making millions on you and screwing the car industry a little bit at a time. And in the end, you the consumer, will suffer.
If this is the future of car buying....I want NO part of it. The end result is a monopoly where just a few stores would exist. If there's not enough profit in the sale...most stores will fail. In fact, why have dealerships? We could just order cars from the factory direct online, have them deliver your car to your house by an autonomous robot and let them make all the profit....which should lower car prices. Right? But then.... Truemanufacturer.com would start. Where does it END?