Does TrueCar New Car Pricing Work?

I haven’t bought a new car since 1998 but am about to and want to avoid as much smarm as possible as well as predatory prices. I bought a report on the car through Consumer Reports, which also gave me the names of two local dealers who have “agreed” to TrueCar pricing, and I even have a personalized certificate saying the car should cost me “X”. Has anyone else gone this route, and did it work as planned? I am not a negotiator and break out in sweats just thinking about it.

I think “TrueCar” pricing is just a marketing ploy. The best thing you can do is just do your own research and walk away if the price does not suit you. Most people can’t do this and car dealers use this to their advantage. I never trade in a vehicle which is another thing most people find difficult to do.

Patience and knowledge is the key here. Check out for some price ranges. Check out Costco, Sams Club may also have a car-buying program. I am sure other web sites can give pricing. Check out your local paper, usually the Sunday paper has lots of car ads and prices to give you a base line to work from. Let your head handle the deal, not your heart. Do not fall in love with a car, you will lose control of the negotiations. Lots of dealers have lots of cars. Do not be afraid of politely shaking the sales persons hand as you say good-bye and walk out the door. My son was buying a new car and the dealer said ‘are you going to let $800 get in the way of you buying this car?’ My son said ‘no but it looks like $800 will keep you from selling it’ as he started to walk out. The dealer gave in when he saw he was serious about leaving. Bring in ads from other dealers and make sure the salesman sees them. You have the money, you have control over the deal.

Answer the question for yourself. Negotiate without a TrueCar pricing then see what it gives you after the fact by asking if you can " sit on the offer" a day or two. If you do it in reverse order, it can be another tool to drop it lower, which may mean you weren’t as good as you planned, or it will show you that you have good buying instincts if you do better.

I agree with @missleman. Avoid trade ins. But if you are incapable of selling your own car, be destined to over pay. A lot of people want to give up negotiating and selling to someone else. When you do, “you will pay dearly” for it. TruePricing means nothing if there is a trade in involved. The dealer can work the numbers to make anything look good with a low trade in value. That is one of the down falls of pricing services.

I’m not sure but guessing Costco’s program and TrueCar are going to be largely the sameish? This is going to be the wife’s car, and after exhaustive online research and butt-in-seat looking, she likes Prius V in level 4 or 5 trim (wife has mobility issues and needs a power seat). We weren’t even thinking hybrid, yet it’s the best thing we’ve found in wagons. But in a city of over a million peeps, there are a grand total of maybe 5 Prius 4’s, and they’re all silver or battleship gray. Sooo, we have to play the “we’re at your mercy” game with the dealers to get the right car (not in stock) while still trying to get a fair price. Will check Edmunds and report back as this progresses!

The internet salesperson at the dealership will probably give you truecar pricing or very close. When. I asked for a quote on a forester it was within $50 of truecar and edmunds. You might try a couple dealers

Anything with the word “true” in it is immediately suspect! Agree, just a marketing gimmick.

All great input! There will be no trade. The wife’s 95 Tracer Wagon has a “fatal” rear suspension failure due to rust, and while still drivable, ain’t long for this world. We’ll be donating it to a charity for the tax deduction.

When I did it last week to buy my mustang, it shot out my info to a couple of dealerships. I was able to talk too all of them and start a bidding war over email.

You can see new cars on line at dealer web sites. They often have prices listed. Even if they don’t, you can request a price via email. If you don’t like the price, negotiate or don’t respond. I got an Internet price from a Chevy dealer for my daughter’s 2012 Cruze LS. I knew it was a good price because I checked pricing on Edmunds.

I’m ALWAYS skeptical of programs like that. 99.99999% of the time it’s pure marketing hype to make the consumer THINK they are getting a fair price. Yet in truth they are there to maximize profits for the dealer.

Knowledge is the best weapon you have to negotiate a good deal. Many sites like and others give you an idea of what other people are paying for that vehicle. Do the research.

Quoting @mrtudball

"All great input! There will be no trade. The wife’s 95 Tracer Wagon has a “fatal” rear suspension failure due to rust, and while still drivable, ain’t long for this world. We’ll be donating it to a charity for the tax deduction."

Is the unibody frame rusted, or is it just rusty broken springs? The Escort/Tracer line is famous for this issue. A lot of them have needlessly landed in salvage yards for it. I bought a Tracer a few years ago because a new car dealer had told the owner it was unsafe to drive off of his lot. She bought a brand new car from that liar. I gave her way more than the dealer offered. We were both happy.

Both springs are available from at least one local supplier for $57. Expect to spend an easy morning installing them if you have a few tools including a floor jack and jack stands, and mediocre mechanical ability.

I just wonder what the True price excludes. Does it exclude destination fees, dealer prep, ADP, etc.

I never trust such programs unless I know where and how they obtain their data.
When I was in college, I had a prof that impressed upon us how critical it is to know the credentials of the authors of our textbooks. I view these types of services the same way. If they won’t tell me up front where they got the data and how they processed it, than it must be junk.

I think it was 6 months to a year ago that the founder was written up in Inc magazine. I just can’t remember and throw the magazines away shortly after looking at them. He started out getting a lot of dealers to go along with the pricing scheme and then the dealers revolted due to losing too much money. Somehow he was able to pull it out of the red and continue on again with dealers participating again. I don’t remember the details but it certainly is reasonably legit. I believe AARP also used it for shopping tool.

Essentially though it is just a guaranteed price that would short cut a little going from dealer to dealer for a specific model etc. at a rock bottom price. Of course the add ons and trade-ins are something else again that you are on your own on. Doesn’t mean the dealers are necessarily the ones you want to deal with either and since the great recession, only in major metro areas will you find competing dealers.

I just use Edmunds or something to get a good idea of the trade value and new car price to use as a guide to see how close I can get to that figure, then wrap it up the same day. I really hate the whole car shopping exercise. So whatever floats your boat. But if you want to wring every nickel out of the deal, you have to work at it.

My wife “volunteered” my service to help a family friend who is a single woman in her late 60s to shop for a new car. Since I subscribe to Consumer Reports, I used its service in getting prices. She had originally decided that she wanted a Honda Accord. We sat down and figured out the equipment that she wanted and the model she wanted and submitted the data. We got two prices, but neither price was from our local dealer. However, the price at the local dealer was about the same as the online prices we received. However, after driving the Accord, she decided to test the Honda Civic and that was the car she purchased. She got a very good reduction off the sticker price as a trade-in for her 1990 Honda Civic. Her trade-in had a salvage title and was rusted around the back fender wells. The motorized seat belt n the passenger side had quit working, so she had merely cut the belt. I hated even riding to the dealer in that car. The salesperson at the dealer claimed he had customers lined up to buy her old Civic. I am sure that her old Civic went to the recycling yard. Outside of the typical dealer b.s., the price was quite good. I think the dealer took the trade-in so that he wouldn’t have to admit the price he could really sell a new Civic. There were two reasons I was glad the local dealer sold the car: 1) she needs a dealer that is close; 2) I didn’t want to ride 20 miles in the old Civic to the one dealer where we got a price.
All in all, I think she did well at the local dealer. I was glad she went for the Civic instead of the Accord, since the Accord has a CVT transmission. The only downside is that the two dealers where I did get the price keep sending me emails about buying a car.

I’ll go against the flow (a little). Truecar is a legitimate organization, in that the price you get will be honored by the dealers that say they’ll honor it. That’s why Consumer Reports uses them. Will it be the BEST possible price? Who knows, that’s where additional work comes in. But Truecar is more than a worthless marketing ploy.

Maybe there’s a hungry dealer 100 miles away. Look outside your metro area. How often do you buy a new car? Not much, right? So, if you have to travel a bit to get a deal, it’s no big thing. Any dealer will be happy to do your warranty work.

One dealer around here will not list the price on the internet,I told the salesman what I thought of the process and have never been back,I despise these manu sites that claim they will show you a price when you submit your information,then you get phone calls from a half a dozen different salesman,some outside the area and I despise these irksome packages you have to buy to get an option you want

Pricing services appear to me to be generalizations on percentages that car buyers may have available with a little research from published material from the manufacturer. They also don’t take into account the individual stock that a dealer has on hand and the financially sensitive information on the solvency of each dealers. Dealers make much of their profit on selling used cars, service and financing. If things are going real well for them in these areas, they may be more likely to move stock a little quicker and with more incentives or better trade in offers and offer more Flexibility in pricing. It’s that way in general retail and no outside agency can or should have access to that information.

Sales people have general boundaries and if they want to exceed then they often do have to consult the sales manager. I bought a used car at a local dealership and while unsuccessfully negotiating a lower price, the owner, who was a former student in class and athlete of mine while coaching, came over to me and we started shooting the bull about old times. During the conversation, he told the sales manager…"just take Mr. (…) offer what ever it is. He does his research and is not going to pay any more regardless. "

We continued to talk about old times while the sales person prepared the paper work. So what pricing service is going to account for that ?