Back in 2007, I went to my local Volkswagen dealer with a friends and family certificate in hand expecting to get a good deal. My now husband and I spent SEVEN hours at the dealership that day as the salesman kept trying to get us to agree to different terms and once we were finally ready to sign the paperwork we were met with a barrage of upsell options. While I left with a car, I felt a little like I’d been run over repeatedly with the new Rabbit that was now in my possession. It was a long and trying day, and I recently found the paperwork and realized that we got the exact opposite of a deal, even with the alleged friends and family discount. Oof.
Fast forward to February 2015 when our son was born and we realized that a two-door hatchback probably wasn’t going to cut it anymore. (The most harrowing moment of my career as a new mom? Getting my newborn baby out of the hospital and into his convertible car seat in the back of my two door car. That’s not an experience I recommend!) Instead of rushing right out to get a new car, however, we dealt with our car’s shortcomings as we did some research into what our next car should be. Ultimately we decided that the Nissan Rogue was the car we wanted so then we turned our attention to finding that car at the right price.
Using TrueCar to Get Your Dream Car for Less
I’d seen a lot of commercials for TrueCar, which alleged to help you get the best price for your car by showing you dealerships that had the car you wanted that they would sell to you at the “TrueCar” price. In other words, these dealerships had entered into a partnership with TrueCar to offer the cars they have in-stock and on the lot at a guaranteed TrueCar savings. As you can see above, some dealerships may offer the car you want at an exceptional price, while others may offer it at a great price, a good price, or even above market. Regardless, with TrueCar you’ll learn the local new car pricing before you ever step foot in a car dealership. The graph above is based on what others in your market actually paid for the car so you can quickly see whether you are getting a good deal or not. (My condolences go out to those people paying above market value!)
To be perfectly honest with you, I don’t love the next part of the process. While TrueCar is free to use, in order to get the dealership information you basically have to sign away your life. Or at least your phone number and email address. Even though TrueCar only gave me the information for three dealerships that had my preferred car available at an “exceptional” price, over the past 48 hours I have received countless phone calls from dealerships resulting in 28 voicemail messages. My phone has been ringing off the hook and I can only hope the craziness is going to stop soon.
Phone calls aside, the information TrueCar provided to me was invaluable! It gave me the names of a couple of local car dealerships, allowed me to view which cars they had in stock, and told me how much the car would cost. As you can see above, TrueCar let me know that Mid-City Nissan had the car I wanted in stock while Autobarn Nissan was only “looking” for a match. I ruled out the Autobarn based on this because I didn’t want to wait for a new car to be delivered.
TrueCar Eliminates Haggling
Once I had narrowed my search down to one particular dealership (Mid-City Nissan) I was able to bring in the price quoted to me via TrueCar and receive the car at that price… no haggling required! I repeat that: No. Haggling. Required.
I went to the dealership last night at 7 p.m. and walked out at 8:58 p.m. with the keys to my new car in hand! The MSRP for my car was approximately $26,000 but thanks to TrueCar I paid quite a bit less than that, even after taxes, titles, and all of the miscellaneous fees were included. I left my husband at home to watch the baby and tackled purchasing the new car by myself and never once did I wish he was there with me. I felt like a boss.
The difference between buying a car last night and when I bought one back in 2007 was like night and day. This time the process was quick and painless and I never felt like the dealership was trying to take advantage of me. They honored the TrueCar price and never tried to get me to add any extra insurance or premiums to the car. It was as straightforward and painless as could be. (Of course, I also have to thank Mid-City Nissan for being awesome, too.)
Is TrueCar a Good Deal?
I know I don’t usually talk about cars, but I had such a great experience using TrueCar that I wanted to tell you all about it in case any of you will be in the market for a new car anytime soon. Most of the TrueCar reviews I found online were from car professionals, so I thought I’d share a non-car person’s perspective. We won’t be purchasing another car for a good long while*, but if we were I would definitely be checking the prices with TrueCar again! We got a great deal with TrueCar, but of course, you will want to take the time to do your research. If TrueCar tells you that you’re paying too much, you might want to look elsewhere or expand your search to include other vehicles.
When shopping for our car, I compared prices on lots of different sites and took rebates and any dealer discounts into account and TrueCar always had the best price. There’s a good chance that this worked so well in my favor because here in Chicago there are at least 25 Nissan dealerships within 25 miles of my house, and I have to imagine that the competition is fierce to attract customers. I cannot guarantee that the service would work quite as well if you live in an area with fewer dealerships.
Updated to Add:
We actually did purchase a new car in December of 2016 because we needed something larger for our growing family. I did use TrueCar again, at a different dealership, and had a similar experience, although this time we used TrueCar to purchase a used car. The dealership still honored the TrueCar value with no questions asked.