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True Car Review

Friday, June 21st

2024 New Car Buying Site Reviews

True Car Review 3 Star Rating

True Car

3 Star Rating
  • "A+" rated and accredited by the BBB
  • Service refers you to local dealerships and online-only sales platforms
  • Used as the engine behind well-known car-buying services like Sam's Club and Navy Federal Credit Union
  • Good for doing research on cars and the buying process

In 2005, TrueCar hit the internet as an automotive digital marketplace. Consumers use this site to buy new and used cars, and it's the force behind many established buying services offered by companies like American Express, Navy Federal Credit Union, and Sam's Club.

Great for doing vehicle research

Our favorite use of the TrueCar platform is research. From reviews and rankings to loan and lease calculators, there's no shortage of tools here that can help you figure out what you really want when buying new cars.

DIY or let them choose?

Once you have a make and model in mind, click on the Shop New section and click on the brand. You'll see all of the available models from that manufacturer with helpful reference images and starting prices. Select the model you're looking for and enter your zip code. Then decide if you want to build out a vehicle with specific features and trim level or if you want TrueCar to show you a popular default build. Either route you choose, you'll land on a page that shows you the average dealer offer on the car.

Best New Car Sites

Register to connect... or not

Here's where things get a little tricky with TrueCar. If you want to "see offers on local inventory" , you'll have to create a free account (and confirm it via email, so no fake info allowed). If that's not your favorite thing to do, you might be able to sleuth out the vehicles near you: scroll down and see "top matches near you" and click on the photo. Lo and behold, at the top of the listing you'll see "Dealer Profile" , and more often than not, that'll take you to a phone number. There's also a "connect with dealer" button, but once again that will require registration with TrueCar.

Reputation on the decline

In the past, TrueCar was our preferred choice for buying cars - new or used. This company still maintains an "A+" rating and accreditation from the Better Business Bureau, and there were fewer than a dozen complaints registered there in the year prior to this updated review. We're sad to say, though, that a lot of their more recent feedback from site users is on the negative side: a full 25% of their reviewers give TrueCar a rating of just average, poor, or even bad. Why? Common issues include dealers who don't honor the TrueCar pricing and cars becoming unavailable in the time between setting an appointment and driving to the dealership. People have started to use the words "waste of time" or even "scam" when describing how they feel about using this service for buying new cars.

Not horrible - but not amazing anymore either

You won't risk anything by using TrueCar to get started on your car-buying process. The research tools are decent and can help you narrow down what you want to purchase, and if you're willing to create an account you can find out more about the cars available near you. Beyond that, however, you can't really count on this platform to show you a guaranteed price on a car that's actually going to be on the lot by the time you go to see it.

What's the Best Way to Buy a New Car?

Gone are the days of heading blindly over to the nearest dealership, hoping to find something you'll like and being largely at the mercy of the salesperson who greets you at the door. Now, most people do extensive research online before ever setting foot on the lot - and that's assuming they're not having the vehicle delivered directly to their home, sight unseen. Today's new car-buying experience is vastly different from what it was even ten years ago.

So, what are the ways you can put online car-buying platforms to good use? Your first step is to gather information. What makes and models do you prefer? Which cars have a stellar track record for quality and safety? How much should you expect to spend to get your must-have features? The best sites will give you all of that knowledge and then some.

The Best New Car Buying Sites Compare New Car Buying Sites Compare New Car Buying Site Reviews What are the best New Car Buying Sites Best New Car Buying Site Reviews

New Car Buying Site FAQ

Just like any other product you can buy online, you'll find a much bigger selection on the internet than if you try to go store-to-store, or in this case dealership-to-dealership. Other reasons to shop for a car online are to save time, avoid the haggling and negotiations of salesmen (sorry, not sorry), minimize the pressure to buy, and do everything at your own convenience. Buying new vehicles online is more popular than ever before and companies are jumping on board with making it as easy as possible for customers.
Make sure the company you're buying from has a good Better Business Bureau rating, high customer reviews, and is a service you've heard of before. It may help to call in and talk to their customer service team to get information about their processes as well. Beware of prices that seem "too good to be true" , try to buy as locally as possible, and trust your gut. Do research online about the car company you're interested in buying from and you should get enough information to make an educated decision.
When you're buying from a dealership that sells new cars, they are going to have salesmen and customer service experts on standby to talk whenever you need. All it takes is a quick phone call and you can go over details about the vehicle you're interested in. They may be able to walk you through the buying process online if you run into some hiccups and want to make sure you're doing everything correctly. When it comes to making a big purchase like a car, don't hesitate to reach out to the seller to talk things through!
Technically there are instances where you'll be able to return a new car to a dealership, but we don't recommend it. Make absolutely sure you're happy with the car you purchase online because dealerships either won't take the car back, or they'll charge a few thousand dollars in return fees. Either way, you'll be out a lot of money! This is also the case for buying a vehicle in person. Cars are not something you can easily send back!
One obvious reason to buy a new car is because it will be more reliable than a used one. You never know exactly how a used car was treated or if it's bound to start having issues. New cars come with factory warranties that cover the cost of labor and repairs if you run into a problem in the first couple years of owning it. New cars have hardly any mileage on them, so they will last a lot longer for you than a used car would. They will have new oil, factory-fresh tires and brakes, the latest technology, and you can buy them in any make, model, or color you want.
One of the perks of getting a brand-new car is that it already comes with a warranty. Usually, it's something like 36 months or 36,000 miles, whichever comes first. This covers parts and labor costs for normal usage. The exact warranty may differ slightly between makes and models of cars and the company you're buying from. You'll have the option of purchasing an extended warranty which would cover bumper-to-bumper issues for a period of time after the manufacturer's warranty is past. Some people choose to do this for peace of mind.
The first thing you should do when buying a new car online is to set a budget. You'll find so many beautiful makes and models with seemingly endless options for upgrades, so you want to know how much you can spend (or how big of a loan you can qualify for) before you even start looking. Do research on the car you're interested in to see if it gets good gas mileage, what other customers have said about its reliability, check crash test ratings, and what type of warranty it comes with. You might consider test driving some vehicles before pulling the trigger on purchasing it online. Take your time comparing vehicles online since you won't have the pressure or time constraints of looking around at the dealership.
Most dealers will deliver the car you purchased right to your house. How convenient is that? It will feel like Christmas morning when that shiny, new, fresh vehicle gets dropped off. If you buy from a dealer that's close by, you might be able to avoid some shipping costs or fees by picking it up directly from them. This allows you to stop and talk to the employees if you have any questions before driving your new car home.
Compare the Best Reviews

Continued from above...

Next, use a car-buying site to figure out what cars are in stock near you - or nationwide, if you're willing to make a trip to pick it up or if the dealer offers delivery (usually for an extra charge). Use all of the available tools to narrow down your options by color, price, desired technology, miles per gallon, or any other criteria you've prioritized. When you click on a specific vehicle's listing, you can typically see which dealership is selling it and how to get in touch. You may even be able to see ratings from previous customers to determine if the dealer has a good reputation.

Finally, it's time to work with the dealership to make your purchase. At this point, most shoppers will head to the lot to finalize the deal: setting up financing if needed, bringing in their trade-in when applicable, and driving away. But, look at the vehicle listing closely and you may find you have the option to have the car brought right to you. Why not?

There are quite a few websites offering to help you find your new car. How can you tell which one to use? Keep these factors in mind:

  • Resources. Any website can try to sell you a car, but does it give you the information you need to make an informed decision? You might want to look at videos of test drives, comparisons between your two top picks, or articles that help you decide on a budget.
  • Transparency. How much detail can you get on any particular car? Does the site clearly tell you where the vehicle is located and which dealer is offering it? Are you able to make direct contact or do you have to use a form on the website and wait for a response? Can you see a car's pricing history?
  • Reputation. What do people say about their experience with using a particular car-buying site? Did it help them find legitimate vehicle listings or did it result in tons of spam emails and phone calls? Has the Better Business Bureau rated the company?

To help you in the search for your new set of wheels, TopConsumerReviews.com has evaluated and ranked the best options for online car-shopping. We're sure that this information will save you time and get you connected with a vehicle you'll love to drive!

The Best Reviews of New Car Buying Sites