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20 User Reviews

5.4

Overall Score

LAST UPDATED: October 20th, 2021

TrueCar.com is a car buying site based on the premise that technology and big data can help address one of shoppers’ biggest complaints when buying a car: price transparency. 

The internet company was founded in 2005 by Delaware automotive-tech entrepreneur Scott Painter and several business partners. The idea of TrueCar.com was born out of Painter’s initial company Zag.com, which was looking to expand its back-end automotive buying services to compiling updated vehicle pricing data for consumers.

Today, TrueCar offers more than one million used car listings and over 450,000 pre-owned vehicles in stock. It offers a more reliable customer service experience for car buyers. (In other words, data and analytics could now be presented in an easy-to-digest form).

Keep reading our TrueCar review for pros and cons of working with this auto buying program, plus TrueCar reviews from real consumers. 

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The Good

  • Pricing Service
  • Easy to Purchase
  • Zipcode-Based Report

Pricing Service

Getting a good price is what matters to most shoppers. For new car buyers, TrueCar members got an average savings of about $3,000 off MSRP. However, this is harder to quantify when it comes to used car purchases which often depend on many more factors, however the statistics that TrueCar offers can help understand the buying process much better. 

The TrueCar pricing options include a way to help consumers understand trade-in values for their current vehicle, so that they have a more informed buying experience. 

Easy to Purchase

Those looking for their next new or used car appreciate a way to make their purchase with less hassle. Truecar.com strives to give consumers exactly that experience. 

Before buyers walk into a dealership for a test drive, they are prepared ahead of time on more than the sticker price or suggested retail price. They can see the true car price data from recent car sales. They can see what consumers in their area actually paid for the same model. Knowledge is power, especially when it comes time to actually talk to a salesman and buy a car.

Zipcode-Based Report

Put in your zip code and the make of the car you want in order to generate a TrueCar price report. You will be led to select a number of other options in order to fine-tune what type of vehicle and accessories you are looking for. 

Once your price report is generated, you get more than average price vs invoice price. It shows a proprietary TrueCar price curve with an easy-to-read pricing curve of under-value, fair-priced, and over-market value prices as well as multiple factors affecting that pricing. 

Truecar.com will also connect you with affiliated automotive dealers in your area that sell the vehicle you have selected. 

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The Bad

  • Phone Calls
  • Limited Model Availability
  • Site Navigation Trouble
  • Savings Certificate Issues
  • Serving Two Masters

Phone Calls

A lot of auto buying sites require that you put in personal details before you are shown a deal, retail price incentives or, in this case, before you are emailed a price report and certificate. When we were solely just researching, entering data to get an example price report, a phone number is required to complete the form, and within an hour, we had gotten multiple phone calls. 

Just be aware that this is a possibility when you are shopping online for a car. Dealers’ digital sales teams want to get your contact info, and you will get several phone calls, with most car finder sites. TrueCar isn’t alone on this. 

Limited Model Availability

TrueCar.com claims that you can search for a vehicle and get upfront pricing so you never have to overpay. However, there are a few makes and models that are not available on the website, so if you are looking for those cars you are out of luck. To avoid frustrating consumers, the website should have more options to choose from.

Also, be aware that your credit score may change the monthly pricing data once you get to the dealership, whether it is a certified TrueCar dealership or not. 

For the vehicles the site does feature, users should know that prices are subject to change; however the price report data is still a good resource. It shows cost trends over time and detailed information on the car or truck model selected, as well as info about monthly payments if users are looking for an auto loan or dealer financing. 

The report helps to see how much negotiating room you have on the vehicle's overall purchase price.

Site Navigation Trouble

The TrueCar website is a bit tricky for car shoppers to navigate through. There are no clear navigation tabs and you have to scroll down the page to find features to click on. Many of the features you will want to access are hidden from plain sight until you start exploring.

Savings Certificate Issues

The TrueCar fair market vehicle pricing reports are extremely clear and easy to understand.

Be aware that the guaranteed savings certificate may not be applicable in all states. Some customers have complained that car dealers have not honored price quotes listed on these guaranteed savings certificates because they are vehicle-specific, down to the model options. This can sometimes be seen as false advertising. 

We recommend that a TrueCar price estimate be used for educational purposes as a starting point when looking for your next vehicle. 

Serving Two Masters

One issue with TrueCar is that it is operating a sales and marketing website, so in a sense, the site is a middleman, connecting shoppers to auto dealers. However, the site is getting an incentive to connect them, or trying to serve two masters, as seen in Forbes

This is common in the car finder industry and you will notice that when you look into a buying service like Authority Auto, the company is sure to mention how it doesn’t take financial kickbacks from car dealers when new car sales go through, to make sure that they stay objective by avoiding dealer partners.

It makes one wonder if TrueCar is really finding consumers the best sales, or whether they are finding consumers the best price, at affiliated TrueCar certified dealers, minus their finder's fees, per a pre-arranged agreement with those marketing partners. 

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The Bottom Line

Customers appreciate a company that can help improve the car shopping experience while helping to get a good price.

The TrueCar website is an industry standard to which most buying programs compare their average consumer savings. This includes CarBargains, the car buying service from nonprofit Consumers’ Checkbook, which reaches out to local dealers for bids to get the lowest price within your local market. 

We love that TrueCar data is able to offer pricing resources to help improve the car buying experience. TrueCar.com’s assets will give you all the data you need to buy your next new or used car at a fair price.

In terms of aggregating car listings and showing dealer inventory, TrueCar serves this very basic function; however, it fails to translate that data into “easily digestible" content. Aside from well-rated apps, its features don't seem to be anything special. The same features can be found at competing sites with more features.

The real question: Is TrueCar reliable? 

Well, getting a TrueCar price does help people save money during the car buying process, but it may not be the most savings possible. 

We recommend using Truecar.com's tools to help research what a vehicle is worth. The site’s true value lies in its automobile pricing data and local stats. However, do your research and do not depend on a TrueCar certificate to be guaranteed savings for your car purchase because it is possibly subject to change. 

What do you think about TrueCar’s products and services? Has it helped you get a good deal on a new or pre-owned vehicle? Let us know about your experience with a quick review below. 

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Star Rating

2.4

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20 Reviews

Review Breakdown

5 grade

15%

4 grade

15%

3 grade

15%

2 grade

5%

1 grade

50%

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CyberJoe Escondido, CA

TrueCar is merely a lead generator for dealers. Often, the car or deal listed doesn’t exist. It’s the old bait and switch trick. It’s a waste of time if you’re serious about purchasing a car. I can see why other companies like AmEx and USAA have cut ties with them. TrueCar might help you find dealerships when searching for a car but that can be accomplished with Google maps.

1 month ago

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CheckThe Block Cincinnati, OH

I bought a car from a Lexus dealership using True Car. The price was as advertised and in fact I paid $500 less than the offered price. True Car listed my car price as an excellent price and I'm not convinced that their Fair/Good/Excellent price ratings mean much. But I found it a useful site. I wouldn't recommend using True Car information alone when you buy a car but I think it is helpful.

11 months ago

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Morgan Tennant Shelley, ID

TrueCar is a great resource to find a new vehicle. They have reasonable list prices and I feel like I get honest information from their website.

3 months ago

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Sam Weiss Plainfield, NJ

If The company was trying to balance the concerns of dealers and the consumers. They would create a registration for the Dealers Fees when signing up for a account to sell their cars. I'm no Steve Jobs, but I am sure any county college kid could do some Contract work to set it up. I read now, So when I see two out of Ten dealers selling the same Make, Model, Year, packages and options, with in 10000 miles of each other At a 20% less cost than the other Eight. I know they have some bs coming. The thing is I shouldn't have to Get my Truecar price, that you send with a $200 dollar discount in Bold print, with the "You have just been made and Exceptional offer!"..... Then scroll down to see fees for items that dealers refuse to explain, and this was all today from just two dealers, the first was funny: Documentary Service Fee $795 LoJack $695 Um didn't they just close shop on 15 March 2021? Cash $995 This was as funny as it was threatening, like a grade school bully PDI $995 United Auto Workers of America, overtime holiday pay would be a little more cost effective Transportation $895 how far do the transport a trade in (mostly). Second dealer Doc Fees $1000 CPO Warranty $2995, I called they directly told me that it was mandatory, Which I am grateful that they didn't try to lure me out to Long Island or where ever they were. Both examples were present in your format, after I had to surrender my email, phone number, and continued calls after my letting them know I won't buy from you. As a Vet and your prior Affiliation with USAA I gave it a shot, maybe they caught on as well, but you aren't doing anyone any favors. It's just the Snake Oil Salesmans True Mega platform. Sam Weiss has never been a paying customer of TrueCar, you have no value to a consumer

7 months ago

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John Gibel Las Vegas, NV

First off, I never bought a car through TrueCar, but after the experience I did have with them, I'm certain I never would. I registered with TrueCar a few weeks ago to research on a couple models I'm considering in 6 months when my current lease expires on my Genesis G80. When I registered, TrueCar clearly states that dealers would NEVER see my actual phone number. That is TOTAL BS, because in addition to dealers texting me thru the TrueCar portal, I received dozens that texted me directly. In addition to the texts, I received MANY dozens of phone calls and messages directly from the dealers, which is kinda hard unless they shared my name, email and phone number. In the Cleveland area there is are many dealerships that our owned by the same company, G*^5#y Auto Group, I was absolutely inundated with calls from salesmen that worked for this group of dealerships. Each location they own had at least 3-4 sales staff texting, calling, emailing me all day and night, over and over. I understand this is not a actual fault of TrueCar, but be aware that signing up with them opens you up to total harassment from dealers. If you look at the "positive" reviews here, it doesn't exactly sound like people saved a ton of money, if any. And in most cases, if you do research on your own through Kelly and other reputable websites, you can do just as well or better. Car pricing is complex and not all about invoice. There are many factors involved, including the time a car has been sitting on a lot, or even if the car has too many options that no one is buying, find out if a car has been driven as a demo, or used by the manager as a car to drive back and forth to work. Those are the cars you are going to get a great deal on. I also got sales calls from car brands I was not even interested in. In the end saving a few bucks if anything is NOT worth the hassle of the TrueCar service, which is nothing more than a company that SELLS sales leads to dealers.

11 months ago

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Don Boren American Fork, UT

I like this service because it's easy to enter your search criteria. Most posts have plenty of photos so you can see what you are buying. I like that it gives you an idea of where the price of the listing compares with other similar cars in the area.

2 years ago

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Eric R. Issaquah, WA

I searched for a particular make, model and trim. Of the six cars listed by six dealers I contacted, all had been sold and were no longer available. They all had others at higher prices though. What a sham.

5 months ago

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randomprophet East Brunswick, NJ

I'm rating them one star for the scammy way they allow dealers to hide the fees they charge in addition to the display price of the car. BE VERY CAREFUL! Every dealer I checked is hiding $1,500 or more in fees ON TOP of the display price. It's a scam and sleazy but Truecar seems to support and encourage it.

7 months ago

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Mark Lew Los Gatos, CA

Truecar is only as good as the dealers on their service. Our experience was a high pressure bait and switch. The price quote (even with the VIN) on Truecar was ignored and the dealer tried to add a $5,000 markup on a Hyundai listed as at MSRP on Truecar. We ended up buying the car for $500 over the Truecar quote because they tired us out with the typical 2 hour "negotiation." I would never recommend the dealer we dealt with (and forget about Hyundai in the future).

10 months ago

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Paul Teti Philadelphia, PA

Found just what I was looking for on their site, drove down to the dealer (an hour and a half from my home) to be told that they sold the car. Got back home checked the site and that car was in fact not listed, however they listed a car the same: make, model, year, color and milage (it was a used car) for $1,000 less. SO obviously the dealer doesn't have either of these cars and is using it as a bait and switch to get floor traffic. DO NOT USE TrueCar.

10 months ago

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MB Newnan, GA

Truecar advertises itself as a solution to the sleazy car buying industry, where the price is never what it seems (anmd always more). Truecar, as much as I wanted to like it more and see it as a better alternative, is nothing more than another means for dealers to falsely advertise. The goal at Truecar, like any car search site, is to find a car we like in our price range. I saw a car for $10K that I liked. Seemed great. I knew there would be a dealer fee on tops of that price. When speaking to the dealer, they said that it would be $2000.00 down. I figured they were talking about financing, and I planned to put down more than $2K, so that was no problem. It was only after taking the test drive that I finally understood that the price of $10K was actually $12K, and that the price listed was after you gave them the first $2K - well, they could have listed any price using this scam. "It's only a $5000 price. Oh, that's after you give us $7K. You're good with that, right?" My complaint with Truecar is that it allowed the $10K price to show up as part of their searches. The dealer was the scammer, but Truecar helped to pull off the scam. With a name like "True - car," you think that would matter, but it does not seem to. Second, dealers all add the dealer fee and the electronic payment fee, as if they are fees (often another $1400 in cost), when they are really just profit. I have no problem with dealers making a profit, but the entire industry uses this scam to make the prices seem lower then they actually are. Some dealers would argue that if they listed the full price, their cars would never be seen in the searches where price matters. They are victims of their own sleazy industry. Truecar helps this scam grow by advertising the dealership's price without the dealer fees. Truecar does offer a means to get a final price right there, when you choose a car, but their search shows the car prices without the dealer fees - without the extra profit - which should just be part of the price, and not an extra scam later, so Truecar does nothing to try and offer its customers a real price in their search tool, which again, to me null and voids the claim of True in their name, from my perspective. They are not different. Truecar could have done what it advertises and offer the buying public a better and more honest way to buy a car, but it is nothing more than a search engine that offers the same things as every other search engine - fake prices. Sorry. I wish it were better.

1 year ago

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Scott Scottsdale, AZ

I have used TrueCar twice. Once to purchase and this week to sell. I did not complete either transaction and found it to be a frustrating waste of time in both instances. In the sale the price when I arrived at the dealer was $1895 higher than the TrueCar promise even though I confirmed the price (with no add ons) on the phone with the dealer before I traveled an hour to the dealer. TrueCars response to my compliant was that some dealers do not comply and there is nothing they can do about it. In the case of the sale, TrueCar does not identify the (in my car) 4 offers they claim at the "certified price". The one dealer that contacted me consumed another hour of my time over the phone getting all the same information about the car only to offer $1500 less (and below KBB's lowest $ value) without even inspecting the car in person. TrueCar in no way eliminates the consumer abusive sales tactics of poor dealers. As mentioned in the lead in description, TrueCar serves two masters - but really only one. They are a site to drive customers to selected, participating dealers who pay TrueCar and to give dealers an advantage over the customer. There may some convenience for the consumer if the process works right and the dealer is scrupulous but unlikely. A critical customer who does some research will find that they probably are not getting a good deal although they may feel they have since they are at a great disadvantage to both TrueCar and the dealer as far as market information is concerned. There is no way TrueCar improves price transparency. If fact one should be very suspicious that they and others actually conspire to favor the dealers and likely are a factor increasing consumer prices and depressing consumer resale values. Buyer beware. Use only if you are OK with giving up 20 to 30 percent or more and are willing to chance that you will be treated fairly.

1 year ago

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Jeff C San Diego, CA

Bait & Switch on written price and not responsive to complaint. First time I ate a $250 price switch (started at $995). This time I'm not taking it and it was $1700 over the $34,789 quoted price. Fool me once!

9 months ago

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Customer Saratoga Springs, UT

This company doesn’t have as much current information on vehicles as Autotrader and Car Gurus. They’ll message you information but really they just want to sell you something that they don’t necessarily have available.

1 year ago

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Lori Fletcher Saratoga Springs, UT

This is a great place to research cars with plenty of options, but found that by the time you call the dealer the car was always sold. Not sure the cars listed get removed from the dealer in time.

1 year ago

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Thomas P Auerbach Wheaton, IL

I got the bait and switch from the TrueCar dealer and ended up paying $1600 more than TrueCar quote. TrueCar gave no support with my grievance. TrueCar works for the dealer, not the consumer.

1 year ago

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Robb H

They are not responsible for their affiliate dealers. I had an unfavorable experience with Import Auto Brokers of Marietta, GA

1 year ago

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Mark Delgrosso

I got a great price, paid with other local people did and the dealer honored the price.

1 year ago

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afayman

Tied in to dealer representatives with best online pricing. No haggling necessary.

1 year ago

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Cim Carver Cheyenne, WY

I just used this site for the first time not too long ago. I like how it takes the mystery out of wondering if you’re getting a good deal or not.

1 year ago