Truecar Review

How Does Truecar Work?

By now, most people have heard of Truecar, but do you know how Truecar works?

Well, TrueCar is an online platform that connects car buyers with certified dealers.

So that’s it? Not quite!

What is Truecar?

The truth about Truecar is that it is just a digital Car Buying (Auto Buying) service that connects Car Buyers with its network of Car Dealers to purchase a car.

Their claim to fame is that by giving you access to dealers’ sales data, they can help you get a fair price on a car.

Now you’re probably wondering: What is a “fair price“? 

And you are not alone because the truth is that “Fair” is actually subjective, meaning- Its definition is going to be different for literally everyone. 

For the purposes of Truecar, however, fair is typically defined as being average or comparable to other dealers’ advertised prices. 

-So, when that comes to your Truecar “True Price,” getting a fair price actually means you will receive something between the lowest and the highest price most people are paying for your desired vehicle, NOT A DEAL!

Myths About Truecar

Truecar Pricing System

Unlike a CarGurus or AutoTrader, Truecars pricing system claims to provide its users with a price analysis by using data sourced from real car sales in your area to tell you if a dealer’s price is low, high, or fair.

This unique feature is marketed as having the ability to help eliminate the traditional negotiation process associated with car buying, which is historically the biggest pain point of any customer to have ever shopped at a car dealership.

But does it actually work? Does Truecar really show you what others are paying? See: “The transparency of Truecar Pricing” section further down in this article.

Truecar Review- Video Version

Truecar Reviews From Real Customers:

I ran a few searches across several review websites and compiled a few key points made by real Truecar customers that created reviews about their experiences. Here is what I found:

Positive reviews about TrueCar:

  • TrueCar provides a digital automotive marketplace that makes it possible to buy used and new cars, research car values, or list your own car for sale online1.
  • TrueCar gives consumers more confidence to buy by providing them with more information2.
  • TrueCar claims to promote transparency in car buying3.

Negative reviews about TrueCar:

  • TrueCar is a ruse by providing a lower auto quote at a connected dealership. Once you get to the dealership, the price is higher. TrueCar does not send alerts4.
  • TrueCar may not be interested in getting you the best price3.
  • Some customers have reported that TrueCar’s quotes are not always accurate and may not reflect the actual price of the car4.

The Truecar History You Probably Didn’t Know (But Should)

In 2012 Truecar was put so far into a corner that it nearly had to close up shop. 


A third of their 5600 car dealerships canceled their subscriptions practically overnight, which in large part led to a loss that year of 75 million dollars. 

The reason for all of those dealer defections?

The Truecar business model was overwhelmingly helping car buyers and driving down dealerships’ margins.

In fact, they did such a good job of driving down the price car buyers paid that they simply became unbearable for most dealerships. 

As if that wasn’t bad enough, Truecar was also going after dealerships in their advertising, putting a bad light on the businesses that paid their bills, not very bright!


In 2012 Truecar was a strong advocate for car buyers and lower prices, and their effectiveness at lowering those prices caused dealers to strike back with a vengeance.   

The question you, as a car buyer, should ask is: 

What has Truecar changed about the service that has put them back in the good graces of the dealerships?

The Transparency of Truecars Pricing

As we discussed above, paying the Truecar price is relegating yourself to average pricing,

which on the surface, does give someone the feeling of being fair or even better than they could get on their own.  

But here’s the kicker:

Truecar averages are based on MSRP (Manufacturer’s suggested retail price).  The problem with that is that MSRP is a price almost no one pays unless you are buying a limited-availability or high-demand vehicle.

It gets better:

These “savings”, or discounts from MSRP, also include cash rebates and incentives that almost everyone is entitled to no matter where you buy the car! 

So, the next logical question should be:

Who Sets The Truecar Price?


Car dealers set the TrueCar price; in fact, I’ll tell you something that most car buyers forget in the face of good marketing:

Car Dealers Always Set Their Prices!

What Truecar actually does is take what the dealership says they wish to make in profit on a certain vehicle, then at your request, they deliver those figures to you in the form of a price.  

The bottom line about Truecar Pricing:

There isn’t anything special, unique, or exclusive about Truecar Pricing or similar Auto Buying Service models. 

You are simply paying a combination of:

  • What the dealer has declared they want to make on a car
  • The prices others have recieved for that vehicle in your area (Consisting mainly of Rebates and Incentives you get either way).

Can You Negotiate on Truecar?

Yes, you can negotiate prices on Truecar; however, remember that Truecar’s own policy states that prices offered on their site are not guaranteed. So, if you negotiate with a dealer on Truecar, the price could still change when you arrive at the dealership.

Tip: You’re better off negotiating directly with the dealer at the dealership.

How Does Truecar Make Money?

Truecar makes money from fees paid by the Dealership, but only when someone actually purchases a car.  Truecar Dealer Fees are generally:

  • $299 for a New Car
  • $399 for a Used Car

This type of payment system is a bit hard to keep track of, especially when you factor in how clever dealers can get to claim that a buyer didn’t really come to them through Truecar (To avoid the fee), but this is why Truecar has agreements with dealers to gain access to their books-  So the transactions can be verified.  

Is Truecar a Trustworthy Site?

Yes, Although they practice what some perceive to be deceptive marketing techniques, Truecar is, in fact, a legitimate business and does work with certified dealerships.

TrueCar’s Dealer Network

TrueCar partners with a network of over 15,000 certified dealers across the U.S. These dealers are committed to transparency and price competitiveness, which aligns with TrueCar’s mission of making car buying simple, fair, and fun.

When a user requests a TrueCar Price Report, they are connected with up to three local certified dealers who have the car they are interested in. This allows users to compare prices and choose the dealer that offers the best value.

The Process of Buying a Car through TrueCar

Buying a car through TrueCar is a straightforward process. Users start by searching for the car they want. They can filter their search by make, model, year, price range, and other features.

Once they’ve found a car they’re interested in, they can see a price report that shows what others in their area have paid for the same car. This report includes the MSRP, the invoice price, and a range of recent transaction prices.

If the user decides to proceed, they can request to be connected with up to three local certified dealers who have the car they want. They can then compare the prices offered by these dealers and choose the one that offers the best value.

The Variety of Vehicles Available on TrueCar

TrueCar offers a wide variety of vehicles, from new and used cars to trucks and SUVs. Users can search for the exact make and model they want, or they can browse by category to see what’s available.

TrueCar’s large inventory is one of its main strengths. Whether you’re looking for a budget-friendly used car or a brand-new luxury vehicle, you’re likely to find what you’re looking for on TrueCar.

The Security and Privacy of User Information on TrueCar

TrueCar takes the security and privacy of user information seriously. They use encryption to protect sensitive information, and they have strict policies in place to prevent unauthorized access to user data.

However, it’s worth noting that when you request a price report, your contact information is shared with up to three local dealers. This is necessary for the dealers to provide you with their best price, but it does mean that you may receive calls or emails from these dealers.

How To Get The Best Price On A Car In 2023

Let’s just cut to the chase:

To get the best price on a car, the way cars are sold as of 2023, is to find a dealer that needs to either:

  • Clear out old/bad inventory (And I mean old and bad!)
  • Hit a Sales or Volume Incentive for the Month, Quarter, or Year.

It’s just that simple and just that difficult.


Negotiating New Car Prices
(Leverage Required)

In an industry where the success or failure of a new car dealership is no longer truly measured on the margins of a sale, is it any wonder that Truecar can so easily secure and then distribute sales data?

So, if Truecar Dealers want you to know their prices, what don’t they want you to know?

They don’t want you to know:

  • When they have to hit sales volume quotas
  • When they are on the verge of a bonus
  • When they have a car that is a duck taking up space on the lot.

Dealership Volume is important to a dealer because, for example- If they don’t sell enough cars one month, they may not get the most desirable vehicles from the factory the next month.

Dealership Bonuses probably don’t need much explaining, but there are times when selling just a few more cars can mean the difference between a few hundred thousand to a few million dollars more for a store.

-If selling a car at a significant loss nets you a few hundred thousand dollars, would you do it?

Dealership Inventory can be your friend if you happen to like a car that has been taking up space on the lot.  As we discussed above:  The dealer could be paying interest on financing to have that vehicle sitting idle while at the same time being limited in ordering something more desirable to put in its place.

The Takeaway

Do you want to know something all of these opportunities have in common?

-You will never know when they are a reality at any given dealership.  This is why having time to shop for the vehicle you want, being patient, and timing your contract for the end of the month, quarter, and year is important.  

Note:  Timing isn’t any more of a guarantee of success than Truecar pricing; you could go to a dealership in the final hour of December 31st and be treated no differently than if it were already January. 

A strategy of patience and timing is merely designed to put you in a place where the dealer knows where to find you when they need you the most!

Who should use Truecar?

I have always said, and will always say, that services like Truecar have an ideal consumer, someone that truly benefits from what they provide.  That is why the perfect car buyer for the Truecar service is one that absolutely hates, with a passion, the mere thought of even asking for a discount.  

And make no mistake:

This type of car buyer is out there, and there are more than you think.  And do you know what?  There is nothing wrong with that. 

Many people are just fine knowing that they didn’t get the best price because what truly mattered was knowing they didn’t get the worst price.

What worries me is that people looking for bargains are pulled in, by design, and in doing so their inevitable bad experiences are contributing to an industry already suffering with consumers on Trust Factor.

But when your business is Lead Generation, you need more clicks.

Frequently Asked Questions:

1. Does Truecar Include Taxes

No, Truecar does not include the Sales Tax or any other State or Govt Taxes in their pricing.  The reason for that, of course, would be very simple:

It’s just too difficult to calculate all of these taxes.

According to the Truecar FAQ, this list here is what is also not included in their services:

  • Dealer Installed Options (Addendum) 
  • Title
  • Licensing
  • Documentation Fees (Doc Fee)
  • Other State and Govt fees
  • Dealer Locate Fees for out-of-stock vehicles
  • “And any other charges or Fees allowed by law

2. How To Delete Your Truecar Account

I noticed a lot of Car Buyers asking how to delete a Truecar Account, and the answer is:  There is no way to unsubscribe from Truecar.  To permanently delete your account would require that you contact Truecar directly and request (In Writing) that your account be deleted from their back end.

3. How To Use Truecar To Negotiate Car Price

The Bottom Line:  You can’t use Truecar to negotiate a car price because Truecar doesn’t offer a special discounted price on a car. 

Think about this-  If you contact a dealership that uses Truecar or Costco, they will often ask you if you are a member of Truecar, USAA, or another program like Costco. 

If these services offered insider discounted prices on cars, why are the dealers trying so hard to give them to you without even being asked? 

The answer is simple: 

These services are unique forms of marketing and advertising for car dealerships.

4. Does Truecar Lease?

As a matter of fact:  Yes, Truecar does also offer car leasing services.  No surprise, however, it’s essentially the same process as if you were buying a car at Truecar.

5. Does Truecar Deliver?

Yes, Truecar does offer pricing for eligible vehicles, which is calculated automatically on their website.

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Steve is a former licensed car dealer located in the State of Florida.  He has many years of experience buying, selling, and working on cars mechanically and started Autohitch to help buyers and Sellers navigate the complex lands of Car Buying.