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Monday, December 5th
TrueCar got its start in 2005 as an automotive digital marketplace that aims to make it easy, transparent and efficient to buy used cars. While you can use this service directly as a consumer, you'll also find that it's the platform behind many well-known auto-buying programs offered through businesses like Sam's Club, American Express, and Navy Federal Credit Union.
Basic search capabilities
From the main used car page on TrueCar, choose whether you'd like to shop by brand, body type, or price range. Once you've entered your zip code, you'll get a list of results that you can further narrow down by price, mileage, model year and more, and then sort your matches by price, distance from your location, mileage, year, or newest listings.
Many different types of used car sellers
Your listings will include vehicles sold by large dealerships, small car lots, and even internet-only used car services (like the three you'll find in our other reviews). While TrueCar doesn't exactly highlight who the sellers are, you can usually figure it out on your own from the listings - and you can use that to go directly to the dealership or website if you like.
Missing some details
This site isn't as robust as its rivals with respect to the details they offer. For example, while the vehicles are listed according to whether they're a good deal, overpriced, and so on, we didn't find those evaluations to be accurate. For example, on one car we liked, it was just $50 below the average list price and yet was still classified as "great price" . You also get very limited vehicle history here - just a summary of the accidents reported, title, and number of owners, unless you pay for a full report from AutoCheck.
Still a good service for doing research
On the other hand, TrueCar is still a good option if you're doing research before you buy a used car. From reviews and rankings to shopping guides and other articles, you'll find plenty here to help you along.
Not the best reputation
TrueCar has had a pretty sturdy reputation in the past. The company is both "A+" rated and accredited by the Better Business Bureau, with less than a dozen complaints filed there in the year leading up to this evaluation. But, some of their more recent reviews elsewhere aren't as positive. 75% of people who use TrueCar give it a "great" or "excellent" rating - but do the math and you'll realize that means that a fourth of their users say it's "average" , "poor" , or flat-out "bad" .
Refusal to honor price
We're not sure if it's a factor of the current used car market, but more than a few people complained that the cars they were matched with on TrueCar weren't available anymore by the time they went to the dealer (even within 24 hours of setting up the appointment to go in and buy the vehicles). Other people said that the dealers refused to honor the TrueCar price once they went to the dealership in person. It's concerning to us that many of this service's comments within the last six months use the words "waste of time" or even "scam" .
Just okay for buying used cars
When you're just trying to get an overview of the used cars in your area, TrueCar isn't a horrible place to start - and it's even a decent way to compare multiple sites for buying used cars all at once. But is it the best resource out there? Not really. Plan on having to take a few extra steps beyond what you find on TrueCar before you're able to actually buy your next vehicle.
No matter what, your first step should always be research. You should determine exactly what's going to fit your needs (or your wants!). Do you have a particular make and model in mind, or are features going to be king regardless of manufacturer? Whether you're all about safety or you feel the need for speed, it's well worth your time to dig into the details of price, reliability and availability, especially when used car inventory is at an all-time low nationwide.
Fortunately, there are many websites that help you do just that - and then make it possible for you to find your perfect new-to-you ride. Some of these platforms even let you buy your car online and have it delivered right to your house. Before you start worrying about the safety of such vehicles, rest assured that most companies selling used cars will include a detailed, independently-verified history report right in the car's listing.
You can see how many owners it's had, any accidents reported, and sometimes the service history detailing oil changes and other routine maintenance. Buying used cars online is a huge time-saver too: you don't have to make a long drive to a dealership hoping they'll have something on the lot that you'll like, and you can avoid a lot of the "pushy salesperson" experience.
Most sites that sell pre-owned vehicles also have tools for determining how much you can afford and prequalifying for financing - which is one less thing you'll have to do in person (assuming you don't take the 100% online route from the get-go).
Which site should you use for buying used cars? There are a lot of similarities among them, and among the highest-rated services you can choose fairly freely without worrying about missing out. But, here are some things to consider about any used car website you're looking at:
TopConsumerReviews.com has evaluated and ranked the best online services for buying used cars. We're confident that this information will help you get your next pre-owned set of wheels at a price you'll love!
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