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
I took truecar quotes to different dealers and all of them said they did not have the car.They tried to sell me a different car. I called true car to let them know that dealers tried a "bait and switch" but they did not care.
My advice is to call the dealers before hand and ask them if they will sell at that price and if they have the said model. Saves you time driving around.
Went to TrueCars.com last evening after seeing a commercial for them. In order to get your 'certificate' you have to give your name, email, address and phone #. IMMEDIATELY I was bombarded with emails from several dealerships. This morning, I began getting more emails and phone messages from dealerships and even got 3 emails from 3 different people at the same dealership! These guys must really be hungry, Anyway, I think this is a scam because I checked out other local dealerships and their 'Internet' price is very close to what TrueCars offered. Don't waste your time with TrueCars.
I used TrueCar to get the best possible deal. TrueCar gave me price quotes from 3 dealers closest to my zip code. I visited with the lowest-priced dealer and drove a car. Loved it. They did not have the exact car I wanted in stock, and refused to do the deal if they had to trade with another dealer. I changed my zip code on TrueCar.com a few times to get pricing from every participating dealer within 25 miles from me. (never use your real phone number on your account, unless you like being barraged with calls - use your real email address, though, so you can get info from TrueCar - you can always use your delete key when the dealers barrage you with emails)
Then I called every local dealer and asked if they would sell the car I wanted at the lowest TrueCar price I found. Most dealers declined to do a deal at that price, which reaffirmed I was getting a great price. The lowest TrueCar dealer quote was much lower than most dealers would go. I just had to find one who would match the quote out of a dozen dealers in my area (Chicago suburbs)
I found another dealer who had the exact car/options I wanted, and we started the paperwork, but they tried to sneak in the $795 destination fee outside of the certificate price. I showed them the TrueCar certificate, which explains that the destination fee is included in the price. They would not do the deal. This told me they were a sleazy bait-and-switch dealer, and I was getting a great quote from the other dealer.
Finally, a third dealer I spoke with was willing to locate/trade for the exact vehicle I wanted, and honor the other dealer's certificate. They were 25 miles away, but worth the trip. I can still have the car serviced at the dealership closest to me.
I can see why dealership owners hate TrueCar, because it forces them to either match the best deal, or lose the sale to another dealer. There is almost no opportunity for funny business and games.
Here is the best-case scenario. This assumes you have already driven this model and have decided what options you want. You're ready to buy,
1) Use TrueCar.com to find the best price in your area from all nearby TrueCar dealers - including all incentives.
2) See if the dealer with the best price has the exact car you want in stock and available for sale. Most dealerships list their inventory on their web sites. Write the stock number on the TrueCar certificate.
3) Walk into the dealership and present the certificate. You're done.
If you are considering cars in dealer stock with different sets of options, run the TrueCar pricing for each situation.. The dealer cannot play games with the options if you have a certificate for the exact options for a car on their lot.
The certificate is the key to avoiding any games. They have to honor it or risk getting dropped from the TrueCar program.
Lastly, don't get suckered into any dealer add-ons, like pinstriping, door guards, fabric protection, rustproofing, UV protective coating, etc. These are major profit areas for dealers, marked way up. You can shop around for these things elsewhere at much better prices. Do your TrueCar deal and drive out of there as quickly as possible.
So, I tried to get some quotes on the Hyundai Sonata
Two dealership certificates were available. I clicked on one and read the fine print which said that it expired on 9/03/2013 (today is 9/05/2013)
So I called truecar and questioned as to why the 'savings' shows as expired. The Rep stated that those savings may no longer be valid. I questioned as to then why do they appear on the site. She said the site was updated every Thursday.
I asked... "So you are telling me that the information on truecar is not valid ...correct?" She wouldn't answer the question.
I got a quote for a 2013 Honda Accord Sport, $21404. Spreen Honda of Redlands said that will honor because they "still had the car in the lot." This is when the true colors of the dealer started to show. I am too tired to detailed exactly what happened, but I can tell you that there was still room for negotiation. Unfortunately, I gave up and agreed on a price.
This what I didn't do and should have done: walk with the qoute on hand and a pre-approved check. Things may have gone a little bit better.
This website is a complete joke. All they do is provide the same pricing info you can get at many other sites. You give them your email only to receive numerous unwanted advertisements from delaership. Then the sales reps wont honor the "guarnteed saving" certificate. I got a Truecar certificate for a savings of over $4,000. They didnt even come close to offering that much. they have every excuse why they cant offer the price stated on the certicate. And they dont even have the car you want on the lot to start. Its a total bait & switch tactic that is so unethical that the website should be closed down immediately!!!!!!!!!!!
Please dont waste your time with this site. email a few different dealerships you want a quote from & let them fight for your business. i worked great for me. I got a price $1,000 below the factory invoice.
It's obvious that the car dealerships do not respect this program, and only involve themselves to gain leads.
I recently researched pickup pricing using Truecar.com, and with disappointing results. Let me explain.
When I conducted my search I was away from home on a business trip. I live in Florida, but was working on a project in Boston, so immediately I started getting calls from the dealers in the Boston area. Come to find out that the genius who programmed the Truecar.com system thought it would be a good idea to detect where you were "physically" when you made an inquiry and have the local car dealers call you.
After about a month I got that problem fixed, and tried again. Ok, so I'm forgiving.
The next time I found that the car delears in Tampa, Fl were not serious about the "price guarantee". They just wanted my to have my e-mail address, so they could fill my mail box up with advertisements.
I approached several of the dealerships with my price guarantee, and they all polite, but were not intending on meeting any kind of pricing agreement.
This is a joke! Don't waste your time.