By on July 11, 2017

car salesman in car dealership with key, Image: Kzenon/Bigstock

It’s a fairly bizarre story, and although you can read the whole thing at Slate, I’ll give you the rundown right here: TrueCar was the brainchild of a “professional disrupter” who specialized in founding companies that added an unnecessary level of Internet-ness to existing processes — think eToys or Pets.com. TrueCar had a lot of initial success before “going through the Swirl,” which is how TrueCar refers to the near-collapse of its business a few years back. The company’s founder had to ask the board for a raise so he could keep his Aston Martins, which emotionally damaged and triggered him to the point that he had to go to counseling.

I know, right? Just when you think that there’s nobody out there less likeable than a dealership principal, along comes a guy who needs therapy because he got a massive raise. But wait, it gets worse. After therapy, TrueCar’s founder “pivoted” towards helping dealerships make more money, because somehow that would be even more disruptive. The cynic in me thinks this 43-year-old billionaire just finally figured out what most teenagers learn with their first lemonade stand, and what pretty much all automotive journalists learn after their second press trip: if you have a choice between screwing over the people you talk to every day or screwing over some random person off the street, the smart business move is to prefer the interests of the former over the interests of the latter.

To make this as plain as possible: TrueCar is a “consumer service” that helps dealers maintain profit. So, there is absolutely no reason you should ever waste a moment of your time with TrueCar. At least, that’s how I personally saw it prior to last week, when I used TrueCar for the first time. Not that I wanted to use TrueCar, mind you. I just had no choice, because my mom made me use TrueCar.


Maybe that’s overstating the case. My mom didn’t come to my house and make me use TrueCar for the purchase of my new truck. For the purpose of keeping a tight focus on the numbers and not on the vehicle, I’m going to make up a name for my new truck, and that name will be “Canyonero Half-Ton 4×4 Bill Blass Edition.” But my mom did talk me into joining USAA several years ago, and my overall positive experience with the company led me to select them as my lender of choice for my Canyonero purchase.

I was impressed by the speed with which USAA qualified me for a rather outrageous auto loan. If I had known how easy it was to get loans like that approved at 11:45 p.m. on a Friday night via the Internet, I would have just gone ahead and bought a Viper last year when it was on my mind to do so. And the rate seemed… okay-ish. About 1 percent above what I figured I could have gotten from a plain old bank. But the convenience of dealing with USAA and my general dislike of common-carrier banks made me willing to accept that 1-percent bump. There was just one problem. In order to get the “discount” that made USAA’s rate a 1-percent bump instead of a 2percent bump, I had to use the “USAA Car Buying Service,” which is another way of saying TrueCar.

Right there was when I should have cut bait and walked away. To begin with, there was exactly one Canyonero Half-Ton 4×4 Bill Blass Edition in central Ohio with the tow package and the Gigantor engine. I knew where it was and I’d gone to look at it already. The dealership in question was about 40 miles from my house, out near the BMX track where I met my first real girlfriend way back in 1986. The sticker price of the Canyonero was $58,500, give or take a couple of bucks. The dealership had an “Internet Sale Price” advertised: $51,800 or so. I was pretty sure I could knock a couple of bucks off that without TrueCar’s help. And looking at the USAA/TrueCar site didn’t assuage my concerns. I had to “build a vehicle” with them and give them my home ZIP code.

So I built exactly the Canyonero I wanted and gave them the zip code of my high school girlfriend, which was also the ZIP code of the one dealership in central Ohio with the right truck. Approximately three minutes later, TrueCar came back with two dealerships that didn’t have anything close to the truck I wanted, plus the correct dealership. They sent me a certificate. I was told to print out this certificate and have the dealership sign it — otherwise, I wouldn’t get my massive TrueCar discount. Which was…

wait for it…

$3,877.

Compared to the $6,700 the dealership was willing to offer me just for being a member of the highly select and exclusive group known as “The Internet,” $3,877 seemed a little soft. But wait! Maybe that doesn’t include rebates, which were included in the Internet Price. No such luck. The TrueCar certificate broke down my savings: $1,500 in rebates and $2,377 in Guaranteed Dealer Discount.

So what’s the point of using TrueCar? Well, from TrueCar’s perspective, the point is that the dealer will pay them if you buy the car using their certificate. But while that’s very helpful to TrueCar and its recovering Aston-addict founder, it doesn’t do much for me. You could also argue that a $3,877 bird in the hand via a “guaranteed certificate” is better than a $6,700 savings on a website. After all, the dealer can always change the deal on you. I suppose that if you are an utterly feckless individual whose tolerance for confrontation is limited to shuffling into a dealership and staring at the floor while you hold the certificate in front of you with both hands, then maybe it’s worth giving away almost three thousand dollars. As for me, however, I’m dirt-poor trash from Ohio and out here in flyover country we don’t have emotional support animals or coffee shops named after fonts or people who cuddle for money and we damn sure don’t just hand over three Gs when there’s no reason for handin’ it over, you hear?

Unfortunately for me, there was a reason for handing it over: I wanted to deal with USAA for my loan. But as I sat there and added up the cost of the extra interest plus the TrueCar “deal,” I started to feel like Lando Calrissian when he finds out that Princess Leia doesn’t get to stick around and stay with him among the clouds. This deal was getting worse all the time!

This is what I did: I took the hybrid approach. I worked my deal on the truck without discussing financing. (That’s always a good idea, even if your credit score is lower than the crank horsepower rating of a 2013 Corvette Z06.) Then I walked in and talked to the F&I guy. I explained that I wanted to get the USAA rate and that I was willing to pay him TrueCar’s markup over and above the deal I’d just worked. I was totally satisfied with this, and so was he.

There was just one dissenting voice in the room: my eight-year-old son. Since he really likes math, I’d involved him in all aspects of the purchase, along with giving him strict instructions not to tell his mother that I was just wandering into a dealership and buying a $59,000 truck on a whim. I don’t like getting the calls that start with, “Your son just told me you bought a new (PRS guitar/titanium 29er/bright-green literbike/Brioni sportcoat/extra box of fries at Burger King),” because I dimly sense they are bad for my future ability to complain about college tuition. It’s also important to get him in the habit of not telling women every little thing that comes into his mind, and I’m sorry to say that but it’s true. Anyway, he was satisfied with the deal on the truck but he couldn’t understand why I was willing to pay more money just to deal with USAA. The total cost of doing so was about $1,950 once we added it all up. “You should just do the cheapest thing,” he said.

“You have time to run a loan for me?” I asked the F&I guy. “Make sure you mark it up a bit since we just wasted twenty minutes talking about this TrueCar crap.”

“Happy to do it!” he chirped. “I can save you… twenty-six dollars a month.” Done. Just about fifty minutes after we walked into the dealership, we left with my new Canyonero Half-Ton 4×4 Bill Blass Edition. It turns out my new auto loan provider is also my mortgage bank, so I don’t even have to set up another account. On the drive home, I had to laugh a bit. I’d gone in with a plan to “use the Internet to my advantage” in the modern car-buying sense. I’d gotten my loan done up front. I’d sold my wife’s Tahoe over e-mail instead of trading it in. And I had a “guaranteed price” from an Internet disruptor. In the end, however, I wound up cutting my own deal and using the dealership’s paper, just like people did in 1995, 1975, or even 1955. The only thing that got “disrupted” was my time and effort. Maybe I should go to counseling over it.

In the meantime, however, here’s some counseling for all the buyers out there: You probably don’t need to pay TrueCar anything if you want a decent price on a new car. That advice is free — and unlike TrueCar, it might save you a few bucks.

[Image: Kzenon/Bigstock]

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124 Comments on “Buying With TrueCar Would Have Really Helped Me… Pay More for My Truck...”


  • avatar
    FormerFF

    Last car I bought, after coming to terms with the sales guy on price, I go into the F&I office. He asks me how I was going to pay for it. I said I was thinking of cash, but asked him what he could do for me. I fill out the credit app, he runs it, the answer comes back, 2.24%. Good enough to make me only put a third down.

    This was in March 2014. If you have good credit and the F&I guy perceives you’ve got other options, quite often you never have to leave the dealership for your financing.

    • 0 avatar
      mikedt

      I usually find out what my credit union is offering rate wise and just tell the finance guy if he can beat that I’ll do the financing via him. He gets his kickback and I save money, everybody wins.

    • 0 avatar
      arach

      I just bought a used car, and was going to pay cash, but decided to ping a bank called “Lightstream”. I had heard of them before, and they came back with 1.9%… on a USED car. How can I turn down 1.9%?

      I always heard dealers can sometimes “beat it”. The dealership couldn’t unless I went with Hyundai Financial, but I’ve read so many horror stories about Hyundai Financial I balked.

      So I took the cash that I was going to spend on it and I bought Tesla stock.

      Worst investment of my life!!!

      (OK I made up the tesla stock piece, but the rest is true. I put the money into Betterment and so far I’m up $962 while my interest payment was $418. After taxes that puts me right about up $400 for the year over paying cash.)

      • 0 avatar
        jlbg

        I wish more people would understand how that works and why a loan can be a good thing. I see people paying making massive extra payments toward their mortgage (at a 3.x% rate) because they “don’t like debt”. Uhg. If they had put that money into the market, they’d end up way ahead in the end.

        • 0 avatar
          dawooj

          I used TrueCar back in 2010 to purchase a car. At least back then, it offered a better rate from a dealership further away from home than the quote I got from a local dealership on my own.

          I tried again last year, but like you, I quickly found out it was much better dealing with the online sales rep of a dealership close to home.

          To get the lower price, I had to use the dealer financing, but I quickly refinanced with Lightstream.

        • 0 avatar
          jack4x

          It’s especially egregious with a mortgage since for many people that 3.X% is really 2.X% after interest deduction. You can almost get that in a CD, let alone an index fund.

        • 0 avatar
          TW5

          @jlbg

          You don’t end up way ahead when your wealth is in speculative equity instruments, and your basic necessities and tools are encumbered by liens. That’s how you end up in a bread line because you really needed to help your financial advisor buy his new vacation home in Cabo.

          When you work in a technical capacity in the finance/accounting industry, you discover that most conventional investment wisdom is actually just another TrueCar scam foisted upon the public by unwitting journalists with little technical expertise and by financial gurus who are not willing to accept the limited means of the common man. How do you think Dave Ramsey built an empire on seemingly terrible advice? It’s because his bad advice actually works for the common man who’s net hard assets (or total net assets) do not cover the liens on his real/personal property. Even Ramsey’s cringe-worthy disregard for the tax code seems to help people survive their suicidal spending tendencies.

          The worst lie of all pertains to the “benefits” of 0% financing. It should be illegal to advertise a loan as interest-free. Interest is being collected and reported to both investors and the IRS, not sure why regulators let manufacturers and banks pretend otherwise when making representations to consumers.

          • 0 avatar
            Wheatridger

            For the car I’m buying, the zero percent requires a purchase price $1000 more. I consider it prepaid interest at a discounted cost. My credit union guy explained how a 66-mo loan would charge $1650 in interest, so zero percent was a better deal.

            I may be signing off on this deal within hours. Is there anything else I should know, or are you arguing semantics?

          • 0 avatar
            TW5

            @ Wheatridger

            For the purposes of the consumer, perhaps it is just semantics, and I should just let it be. However, the reality of the situation, whether semantics or GAAP or IRC, is that the market rate of interest is simply capitalized into the principal balance, and then amortized over the life of the loan. Whoever holds the note is recording interest income every time a payment is made.

            Technically, 0% financing allows the manufacturer to charge interest upfront, and the debtor can never escape it. Early payment achieves nothing b/c the future present value of the interest is capitalized at inception. In some ways, 0% financing is actually worse than a traditional note, though it depends upon future fluctuations in interest rates. That’s why manufacturers keep the terms short and they rarely offer 0% or below-market financing.

            However, you may need to read the fine print out your credit union. I believe they have flexibility that banks do not have regarding the imputed rate of interest, though I doubt they are able to offer a genuine 0% rate.

          • 0 avatar
            joeaverage

            Stock market tanks, your job lays you off and suddenly you can’t make your car payments or worse your home payments.

            In short order you’re walking and homeless (living in a motel, couch surfing, moving back in with your parents).

            No, count me in with the bunch that aggressively pays down my debts so I can return to aggressively saving money (investing money – where my car and roof aren’t so reliant on market performance).

            With my debts paid I can make ends meet with a minimum wage job or two.

        • 0 avatar
          Peter Voyd

          For those expecting to pay an Expected Parental Contribution (and maxing their retirement savings), paying down the mortgage loan balance can be an ok way to make some assets non-reportable.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    I’m a Costco member, I’ll give them a crack at putting a deal together for my next purchase.

    I will say that I do often wonder if all of these “car buying services” are really just ways of packaging the same deals in 10 different ways for various audiences.

    • 0 avatar
      phlipski

      Last car I bought I tried using both Costco and USAA. I ended up getting the best deal by just playing 3 dealers off each other via email/phone. As much as I absolutely LOVE USAA for my general checking/banking needs – their loan rates are not competitive.

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      Costco is just another vehicle for Truecar, like USAA. Two years ago, I built the exact same car using USAA, Costco, and Truecar. Although they all use the same system, the prices were slightly different, with USAA having the best price and Costco the second.

    • 0 avatar
      srh

      I think the car buying services are for my mother (and everyone’s mother). My mom went into a Subaru dealership looking for a moderately spec’ed Forester and ended up paying over MSRP for the luxo-touring-whatever edition, to the tune of low $30Ks. She’s not stupid, just ignorant of the process and non-confrontational.

      She’d have been much better off working the deal through Costco or Truecar or whomever. Or buying an airplane ticket for one of her sons to fly home and buy the car.

      But for anyone willing to put in minimal legwork, better deals can be found.

      • 0 avatar
        docoski

        Bought a new GTI in March. Locally they didn’t have any in the trim or color combination I wanted (guess I’m a pain in the rear). By using True Car’s regular site, USAA, and Costco, and searching in a metro area within 100 miles, I had “savings certificates” ranging from roughly 5% off MSRP (about half of dealerships) to about 10% off MSRP (about the other half) and one outlier that offered 12% but their internet sales was not terribly communicative. I forwarded on this certificate to a dealer that called me with a car I wanted but offered only 5% and negotiated to 12% + $50 or some paltry amount to be most discounted, turns out they beat CarMax’s trade-in on my old car by 20% FTW! Pretty happy with the car.

    • 0 avatar
      zip89123

      A friend of mine has purchased her last three vehicles, all Ford’s, using the Costco auto buying program. It’s an easy no haggle experience, and sometimes Costco kicks in a rebate card. I’ve used it to purchase very expensive jewelry. For big ticket items like vehicles & jewelry, nothing beats a Costco Executive membership which pays for itself the first you use it for either of those two items. For vehicles, the deals vary monthly, so check often. As for the ridiculous store lines, that’s another matter :(

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      Cars, Autotrader, or Cargurus can beat just about any price…and no paid membership required.

      • 0 avatar
        Wheatridger

        That’s been my resource for a long time. Only works for browsing and locating vehicles, though. The rest is up to you. Car buyers clubs and brokers will rarely find you the best possible price; they won’t take the time for that, but they will simplify the paperwork and expedite the process. No uncomfortable face-to-face negotiations at dawdling dealerships, and no surprises.

        After asking my friendly “Car Guy” auto broker first, I beat his deal by about $5000 on a $32,000 MSRP car. All it took was long hours on those big three sites, where I searched nationwide until I found one in Baltimore. I’m in Denver. If all goes to plan, it’ll be shipped here next week.

  • avatar
    redapple

    Jack
    Good Read.
    Truecar is a starting point. Then, depending on demand for the car, go lower for your price.
    I Truecar -ed a CRV EX. Then, I contacted my local Honda dealer, Henessey Honda – Woodstock (great dealer- wont hose you. Bought 2 Accord EX V-6 from them). They were $2000 less than the Truecar scam machine.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    At *most* dealerships, the F&I guy/gal just wants to make a living like everyone else in a square fashion. If you are honest with them, they will be honest with you and work to get the best rate they can for you. This is their job after all and yes they make money doing it, but if you get a 2% loan for 6 years on a depreciating item seems to me you should give them a high five for a job well done.
    As a side note, USAA has convinced their customers that paying more is better for them (the consumer) than they would using another firm offering the same product more efficiently than any other company on the planet.

    • 0 avatar
      sirwired

      I wonder where I could find a dealership where such an F&I person works? Because every time I go through the process, I get the hard sell on the (overpriced) extended warranty, the (pointless and oversold) paint protection, the (overpriced) gap insurance, the (overpriced) wheel/tire coverage, etc.

      • 0 avatar
        87 Morgan

        sirwired. Set the expectation with him/her prior to heading to their office and you will be fine. More often then not, they have standardized pricing set by the dealer as a starting point for the VSC, GAP etc.
        Gap, at this point is not overpriced FYI, industry loss ratios are grossly out of line to the point that some providers of the product are coming to the conclusion it is no longer financially viable to offer it. If you believe the pending drop in used car prices that many predict the loss ratios will just get even worse.

      • 0 avatar
        saturnotaku

        State Farm has a captive finance arm that does auto loans. This is what my wife and I used to buy our ’16 CR-V. The rate was a full percentage point lower than what we were being offered by the dealer and included gap insurance.

      • 0 avatar
        nrd515

        That’s my experience with most of them. I’ve almost walked out twice due to the guy being so arrogant that I wanted to slap the smile off his face. The worst guy had me so angry that I went and told the salesman either he goes or we do. He went, and the replacement guy was very pleasant to deal with. The original guy tried to make the deal into a lease, and had an extended warranty rolled in. He’s still there 17 years later, grayer and heavier, but still a total dick, according to a friend who dealt with him in May. The last two cars I’ve bought had moderately pushy F&I guys and I told them both to “Back off”, as I could feel my anger building. Both did, and it went fine from there.

  • avatar
    Jean-Pierre Sarti

    my buddy uses the truecar price as an out the door price point when negotiating.

    what do y’all think about that strategy?

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      Depends. Since I always finance with my credit union I’m focused on the “out the door price.” I also pay the tax and title upfront because I refuse to finance the taxes for the life of the loan.

      I always say the biggest thing is being satisfied with the deal. My wife’s last purchase the salesman gave roughly x2 the trade-in value of her vehicle to make the deal happen. If that made him more comfortable than coming down on the actual price of the vehicle, so be it.

      I was still happy with the amount being financed.

  • avatar
    ajla

    When do we get more about the Gigantor engine?

  • avatar
    SearMizok

    I have used TrueCar to get an idea of what the numbers should be, or could be, but then I make the best deal I can directly with the dealer, usually by email so I have time to consider the dealer’s counter-terms on my own time and not be rushed into making any hasty decisions.

  • avatar
    S2k Chris

    TrueCar is a good sanity check/first round. Since I’ve bought a lot of Honda/Acuras in the last few years, and generally popular models that aren’t under heavy discounts, there isn’t a lot of arbitrage to be had.

    I’ve also walked in with my pre-printed USAA check and said “happy to have you beat this rate” and they usually do.

    • 0 avatar
      a5ehren

      Yeah. I used the pre-TrueCar USAA program for my wife’s Mazda 3 5 years ago and it worked out great.

      For my next car (2 years-ish) I plan to just use it as a starting point and try to get a better deal on my own.

      • 0 avatar
        cimarron typeR

        I like to search autotrader /cars.com for the lowest price model listed on their site w/ options I desire, that low price is your reference low, as this represents every single discount and concession a dealer is willing to take.It works fairly well and doesn’t involve filling out a web form.

        • 0 avatar
          gtemnykh

          Yep why this isn’t a wider understood tactic among the car buying public befuddles me. That and not being willing to drive a few hours to get a massively better deal. A tank of gas and 4 hour’s time is not worth $1000+ to you?!

        • 0 avatar
          Dan

          I haven’t had a lot of luck with that. The lower range of cars.com pricing (for new cars) is typically arrived at by including the entire panoply of niche rebates which normal people don’t qualify for, and without knowing exactly what those are there’s no way to tell where the dealer concessions stop and the $500 amputee discounts start.

          The $995 doc fee and $1195 destination are almost invariably left out as well, but “does not include freight and doc” is easily quantifiable while “includes all available rebates” isn’t.

          • 0 avatar
            Wheatridger

            Yes, you have to watch out for that. But every new car dealer adds a destination fee to the sale price, don’t they? As we speak, I’m waiting for a written quote to back up what I’ve been offered online and over the phone. I’m comfortable at home, not stuck watching the clock in a stuffy office. If I don’t like the bottom-line number, I don’t even have to take the effort to walk out the door. I just won’t sign the papers. I’m new to this game, but I feel like it gives the buyer some advantages.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    “As for me, however, I’m dirt-poor trash from Ohio and out here in flyover country we don’t have emotional support animals or coffee shops named after fonts or people who cuddle for money and we damn sure don’t just hand over three Gs when there’s no reason for handin’ it over, you hear?”

    Lol, well done. But if you’re buying a $59K truck to tow a race car and can swallow all the attendant costs of that pursuit, you ain’t dirt-poor nothin’.

    • 0 avatar
      FormerFF

      Racing makes you poor. So do hookers and blow. However, unlike hookers and blow racing is worth the money spent.

    • 0 avatar

      Me thinks a $59k truck is the Midwestern version of a comfort animal. Each to his own, I guess…

    • 0 avatar
      Toad

      In my corner of the South having a racing habit seems to be a very effective way to keep from becoming wealthy. It is common to see a contractor/home builder/small business guy who starts to do well decide that he needs a race team and the attendant truck/trailer/tools/cars/etc. Pretty soon the money that could have been saved or invested is flying out the door until one little economic speed bump sends the business, bank account, marriage, and race team into the ditch.

      In my humble experience the race car/team may be one of the greatest destroyers of wealth ever created (right up there with cocaine, pleasure boats, and anything marketed as “collectible”).

      • 0 avatar
        chaparral

        You’re looking at it backwards. Funding the racing team was the whole point of doing all of the work of building and running the business.

      • 0 avatar
        S2k Chris

        “In my humble experience the race car/team may be one of the greatest destroyers of wealth ever created (right up there with cocaine, pleasure boats, and anything marketed as “collectible”).”

        Not to be sexist, but I think the words you are looking for are “younger women” “affair” and “resulting divorce”.

      • 0 avatar
        healthy skeptic

        @Toad

        In my corner of the Bay Area, I’m convinced it’s private school. $10-12k per child, per year. From K-12.

        I think the rule of thumb for private school is the one-Lambo-per-child rule. If you can afford to walk into a Lamborghini dealership and write out a check for one car for each child you have, by all means, send your kids to private school. Otherwise, you’d probably get more out of your money with hookers and blow. Private school isn’t even collectable.

        Okay, I’ll shut up now.

      • 0 avatar
        formula m

        What’s with all the cocaine hate?
        I just like the smell of it

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      If he would have traded the old truck on the new he could have only paid taxes on the net difference.

      Not unless JB through them the Accord and it’s excellent residuals?

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    Even though I know we weren’t talking about the vehicle, my guess is that you selected some well-equipped variant of the Silverado with the 6.2-liter upgrade and 4WD.

    And, yes, guaranteed price funnels will usually cause you to leave a few dollars on the table. $3900 is particularly paltry for a truck, since those tend to be massively discounted versus their sticker prices.

    • 0 avatar
      a5ehren

      Agree. On a big-ass truck where they’re throwing 15+% on the hood as a matter of course, Truecar isn’t going to work very well compared to rolling your own deal.

      On stuff that is already priced somewhat efficiently (Accords, etc) you can save some time in exchange for leaving a few hundred $$$ on the table for the dealer.

    • 0 avatar
      87 Morgan

      59k for a gas Silverado? Seems a bit much. I think a Duramax is more likely.

      Unless, said truck is a GMC Denali with every option checked.

    • 0 avatar
      carguy67

      “… my guess is that you selected some well-equipped variant of the Silverado with the 6.2-liter upgrade and 4WD”

      Does this mean we’ll see Jack on a ‘Real People’ commercial? I’ll bet he can rock a man bun!

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    Anyone who sees a $3900 TrueCar discount on an American full size pickup as a good enough deal to print out the certificate and bring it to the dealership hasn’t done research as cursory and thin as scanning the Sunday paper ads. I can just imagine the suppressed glee from the salesman assigned to such a customer. Blood in the water.

    • 0 avatar
      a5ehren

      Eh, those people were probably paying MSRP a few years ago. I think *on net* it is a decent thing for consumers, but savvy negotiators are always going to be able to do better.

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      My parents have a long-time friend who is a salesman at a GMC/Cadillac dealer. So when my buddy was looking to buy a new half-ton a couple years ago we went to him to see what GM had to offer. He knows we are car/truck guys and just told us to have a look and let us know if we want to drive anything, and to assume that the price will be $10k off MSRP.

      He ended up custom ordering a Ram instead. That also ended up being about $10k off MSRP.

  • avatar

    When I bought my Fusion, it was a year-end closeout and the dealer’s internet price was at least $500 below what a number of car websites said was the “invoice” price and $1,500 below the “target” price, with all rebates.

    A few days after buying it, my wife and I saw an add for TrueCar, so I priced out my car on their site. TrueCar’s “target” price was about $2,000 more than what I paid and abut $1,000 more than what the other sites listed as the target price. I haven’t looked at TrueCar since.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Maybe it’s just me, but it seems all modern wealth is created by a combination of stupid sh*t and fraud.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      There are folks out there that just hate car-deal shenanigans. Does that make them “stupid”? Meh.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I make a more general observation (SNAP, Theranos etc) but in a non-flippant response, yes. Buyers do not understand the concept of leverage, and sales psychology has shown the bullsh*t new dealers pull enables them to sell their wares. If more thought were put into the process by the buying majority, the tactics would have to change and more than likely the process becomes more intelligent. We’d probably also have much better finished product from industry as well.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Agreed, Truecar is basically worthless unless a) you have no idea how to read a dealer’s website, and b) you like getting a half a billion emails from dealerships. Truecar works splendidly for that latter item.

  • avatar
    npaladin2000

    I used TrueCar back before “the Swirl” as they called it. It was OK. At least it was convenient. But now? Yeah, it takes about 5 minutes of work to do better than TrueCar. Especially if you’ve got a supplier discount with anyone anywhere, and those are even beatable with some work…more work.

    Grinding > Supplier discount > TrueCar > MSRP.

    • 0 avatar
      Land Ark

      Grinding > Supplier discount > TrueCar > MSRP > The price of a used version of the new car you want at CarMax

      • 0 avatar
        notwhoithink

        “Grinding > Supplier discount > TrueCar > MSRP > The price of a used version of the new car you want at CarMax”

        Even that isn’t written in stone. You’ve left off the employee/friends and family discount, which fits in somewhere between “grinding” and “supplier discount”, usually. But in any case, you always have to do your research. Even just a little bit can save you a lot.

        Example: I’ve bought two Fords in the past 5 years. I’m eligible for the supplier discount (X plan) which not only offers a fixed, no haggle, no-negotiation price but also puts limits on the documentation and other fees that can be charged. When I bought my Fusion the X plan price was the best price I could find anywhere, without having to do additional negotiation. It stacked with a couple of rebates and other incentives available at the time, and in the end I would up getting the car well below sticker and thought it was good good deal.

        On my other purchase, my wife selected the Edge that she wanted with the color and options she wanted, and we found exactly one of them within 100 miles of us. On the bright side, the dealer was advertising an “Internet price” that was lower than the X plan price, so we got an even better deal without haggling. Granted, it was a 2014 and the 2015s were about to hit the lot any day, but the point is that it’s still worth it to do a little digging on your own. If I hadn’t we would have probably been quite happy to pay X-plan pricing for the Edge as well, and would have actually ended up paying more for it.

        Never assume that one method or another is always going to get you a better price or experience. Spend a little time to do the legwork and see.

        • 0 avatar
          MBella

          You can still negotiate with X plan. It works out as just another rebate. Ford isn’t telling the dealer what their required markup is. Every time I shopped for any of the big three’s vehicles, I always received many different prices on the same exact vehicle. Sometimes it takes a salesmen that really knows how to play and stack rebates, plus a dealer that is willing to take a bit less profit. Sometimes it’s the salesmen that knows which particular configuration has better incentives. When I got the Silverado, my well equipped truck that has an MSRP of $45K ended up being about $31 while others wanted to sell a $40K truck for $33-35K

      • 0 avatar
        volvo

        “Grinding > Supplier discount > TrueCar > MSRP > The price of a used version of the new car you want at CarMax”

        LOL and so true!

  • avatar
    kvndoom

    Truecar was good in the beginning. It was on the side of the buyers. Remember when it showed the TRUE dealer price, not the phony “invoice” BS?

    Then the dealerships took over. It’s the age old philosophy of offering a discount on something that was ridiculously overpriced to begin with, and making the buyer believe they got a “deal.”

    • 0 avatar
      brn

      Truecar was never on the side of the buyer. They’re not even on the side of the dealer.

      They’re an overpriced lead generator. They’ve convinced some buyers that they have something special. Dealers are forced to play along or lose a sale. Dealers need to deal with too many lead generators already (cars.com, autotrader.com, carsoup.com, the list goes on).

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    I tried using Truecar a week ago. I am not 100% seriously looking and the amount of information they wanted from me up front meant I never did get to see what they had to offer.

    On a related note, I sincerely apologize to anyone who has my old Yahoo email address and my cell phone number from 14 years ago and are getting incessant emails and calls regarding your interest in a new Focus ST.

  • avatar
    deanst

    People are pretty naive if they thinking adding another profit-seeking firm to the buying process will automatically result in a lower price.

    • 0 avatar
      notwhoithink

      Truth. There are very, very few cases where adding an extra layer of abstraction/middle-man into the picture are going to result in lower costs.

      But then some might say that the purpose of these middle-men isn’t to maximize savings as much as to offer some savings while making the experience less adversarial.

  • avatar
    Jeff Weimer

    *All* the car-buying and car-pricing sites are like that anymore. Edmunds, Carsdirect, you name it. Truecar just collapsed into dealership front-man much quicker after gettin.

    I remember 15 years ago walking into a dealership armed with all the data and getting a good deal. Now, you get what the dealerships want you to know.

    We’re back to terrible information asymmetry like those “good-old-days”.

    • 0 avatar
      a5ehren

      Indeed. It would be nice if there were a site that had the *real* invoice price, hold-backs, promotions, etc all listed and could generate a range of values for negotiation targets. I don’t really need someone to email the dealer for me, but I *do* need help figuring out what a good price is.

      • 0 avatar
        Jeff Weimer

        Edmunds and carsdirect used to be very good about that, but that doesn’t pay the bills – dealer referrals do. So it’s a case of dancing to the tune of who pays the piper. Carsdirect won’t let you price a vehicle without giving your info first anymore.

        I’d be willing to pay a modest fee (like, say, how carfax works) to have that information.

      • 0 avatar
        dwford

        You can build a car on Edmunds and it will give you the total MSRP and the total invoice price. I have found those to be pretty accurate numbers. The holdback is typically 3% of invoice. What you will have a hard time finding is the amount of dealer cash there is.

  • avatar
    dwford

    Wow. It’s definitely a different business model than it used to be. When I sold car (at a non-TrueCar dealer) people would bring those offers in and they were so low they were mathematically impossible to meet. We could never understand why dealers were paying for money losing sales. I guess they figured that out as well.

    There’s a saying in the car business: the people that pay the most are the happiest. Kind of explains why that smug know it all in the TrueCar commercials is so happy with his purchase.

  • avatar
    thegamper

    I looked into truecar at one point in time. I typically just hit the back button when I come across any website that requires so much personal information just for me to see what they are offering. So not only are they profiting from your business, your information is most likely sold whether you use the service or not.

    In any event, from what I could see before they asked me for my social security number in order to get a price, my deal was about $2000 better.

    With the internet and all the people who believe it is the end all be all of savvy shopping, I think it could actually be a windfall for a lot of car dealerships. Remove the art of haggling, remove the actual face to face cross shopping at competing dealerships = profit.

    I think every high school should have a well educated, crochety old man teaching consumer finance. Kids….this is BS, never fall for this. This is how the world works, this is how they get your money. There is basically no real life personal finance education getting to our children other than from parents. So if your parents aren’t savvy shoppers….kids don’t stand a chance, at least not until they have been burned and learned a thing or two.

  • avatar
    volvo

    A little off topic but what exactly is “the F&I office” at the dealership and why do you have to go through that barrier if you write a check for the OTD purchase price of the vehicle?

    I find the car I want, negotiate a cash price and I still have to say no dozens of times to the F&I layer before I walk out with the car.

    It is the worst part of the car buying experience.

    • 0 avatar
      a5ehren

      Finance and Insurance, I think. It’s where the dealer makes their profit on a new car sale.

    • 0 avatar
      87 Morgan

      Volvo: various reasons.
      I am going to bet that you a straight up human being, if you walked into a dealership and bought a car and wrote a check everything would work out great.
      However, that is not reality.

      So, the F&I office also have to run the Red Flags and OFAC checks; which are required by the Gubment to ensure you are not a terrorist or any other unsavory on the list, in which case you can’t buy a car and also to verify your identity that you are not committing fraud via identity theft.
      Then the issue of the check, I know very few that will accept a personal check over $2000 from an individual for a car. Most people won’t take a check when they sell a $20 kitchen appliance on Craigslist, why should a dealer accept a personal check for 50k + tax?

      • 0 avatar
        Cole Trickle

        I’ve paid twice at Infiniti and once at Acura with a check. I don’t remember anything particularly complicated about it. I think they ran my credit before the deal was done, which is to be expected. The meth head I bought my old jeep from wouldn’t take money orders though. I had to count out bills for him.

        • 0 avatar
          rentonben

          Meth Head has seen things – he knows that you can place a stop order on most money orders.

        • 0 avatar
          brn

          Cole Trickle: “I think they ran my credit before the deal was done, which is to be expected.”

          On a cash deal? No.

          I paid for my Ford with a money order. They never ran my credit. They never checked any of my accounts. Didn’t even need to verify insurance (the risk was all mine). My time in the F&I office was maybe five minutes.

          If you’re paying cash for a car, you’re only required to perform the government mandated functions to register the vehicle. If they ran a credit check on you, you should be suspicious as to why and as to what they were doing with that information.

      • 0 avatar
        fvfvsix

        Not challenging your logic on the F&I office, other than to note that one of the 3 previous new car dealerships I’ve purchased from – a Toyota dealer – did not have an “F&I guy”. Instead, the sales guy handled that part of the process and did not hard sell anything.

        Also – I’ve written three personal checks to new car dealers in the past 2 years for amounts exceeding $10k ($15K, $20K, and $25K), and none of them batted an eye. The aforementioned Toyota dealer did not have my SSN, so no credit was run. If you have a problem with my personal checks, then you won’t be selling me a car.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      In new car sales, there’s the “front” of the sale and the “back”. The front is the deal you make with the sales guy, the sale price of the car with trade etc, wheel locks and other lot pack crap. The difference between the invoice cost of the car and what they sell it for is the gross profit. Gross is the gold of the dealership.

      Most customers understand front end gross, and will at least put some form of effort into grinding down that front end price, or payment, or trade price, and focus in their negotiations here. The sales guy is more often less experienced, wants to get a deal done and will go to his manager for a concession to get a signature. If the gross can’t be made up front, oh well, on to the back end, the finance office.

      The finance office is where many (not all, but a growing number) make the largest share of their gross profit. Mainly because the cost of sale is low. Finance managers are typically top sales graduates, pretty women, or some other form of employee who’s paid their dues and gets the privilege of riding the gravy train. Finance managers are often the second best paid person in the dealer, next to the dealer principal or general manager. Some months, more than either. Customer’s intrinsically trust someone who can “help” them get approved for a loan so they can drive that new vehicle they just emotionally bought. Plus, the numbers in the finance office are by nature much harder to understand. What is the dealer cost on an extended warranty? What is undercoating really worth? Is that 3M clear plastic coating really so great that it’s worth $1300? Not uncommon to gross $1,000-$2,000 on a given warranty or product.

      Compound interest is even less understood, as is the means to which a finance manager can make extra gross profit by making you pay more of it. Maybe you did qualify for that subvented rate special, or at least a prime bank rate of a couple percent. But the finance manager talked to the bank and that one late cell phone bill a few months back really dinged your score and you only qualify for a 7, 10, 15 or 20% rate. The finance manager can bump a rate, make a higher reserve payment from the bank.

      Add it all up, and an aggressive dealer can quite easily gross a few grand in the back end without the customer understanding a damned thing. Finance managers are often paid 15-20% commission on gross profit generated, do that a few times a day…pretty sweet.

      Strong back end gross is how dealers that advertise stupid low prices/payments advertised far and wide into competing markets stay alive. Many are willing to take a negative number on the GP per unit line on the financial statement in order to have the chance at several grand in the F&I lines.

      • 0 avatar
        formula m

        Exactly how it works and they keep their (front) sales staff in the dark saying they made no money on the vehicle because of the discounted sale price that had little to no profit.

        • 0 avatar
          formula m

          The F&I (Manager) has the customer brought to their office (often referred to as “the box”) like fish in a barrel where they make money from scaring customers into warranties, protection and financial products with stories of horrific scenarios that could happen to the customers new vehicle that they just spent $35k+ on 15 minutes prior. They use your emotions and fear against you to soak more money. You would be careless not to protect your new “investment” properly right?
          Meanwhile the sales person who is not a “manager” that got beat up over the price of the car and spent the most time and effort with the customer makes a flat rate minimum because of the sale price. The used car manager takes the profit when they rip you off on the trade-in. New Car Manager makes money on hitting sales quota. The lowly Sales staff gets pressured to bring the managers more sales and get to wear the bad reputation.

          Salespeople are probably the most honest person out of the whole bunch because they genuinely just want to sell you a car.

  • avatar
    brandloyalty

    Last time I bought a new car there were several “online car buying” services around. The one I chose worked by fanning out a request for pricing to the dealers who sold that brand in my area. For a small fee. So that saved me time and presumably caused the dealers to offer their lowest price.

    I recall only one dealer responded, and after everything was factored in the price was $27,500 on a vehicle with MSRP of $32,000. This was a brand new model and there was a waiting list for it. Ours was brought in from hundreds of miles away.

    We paid cash. The dealer grumbled that we were getting it for less than he could. Good one! Soon after that buying service and the others of the time disappeared.

  • avatar
    igve2shtz

    As a USAA member, I’ve used TrueCar twice both with good results. It always beats the dealer’s posted “Internet Price” by thousands. It’s beaten emails directly to the dealership. And it was still cheaper than the first couple go-arounds with a salesman. Maybe it is the Northeast where competition is fierce, but TrueCar has been good to me. Plus, the F&I guy shuts up immediately when I flash a USAA card at him.

    I agree, TrueCar will never beat a determined haggler. However, my amateurish friends have never beaten the TrueCar price when they performed their own haggling. TrueCar is for the everyday man who buys a car once every 5-10 years. It’s impossible to go toe-to-toe with a salesman who does this every day when a typical person buys 5-7 cars in their lifetime.

    Yes, I think with 8 hours of my time, countless threats to walk out, several phone calls to competing dealerships, and 12 cups of free coffee I could beat it. But I’d rather get those 8 hours back and drive the damn thing.

    On a different note, NJ must be a cheap place to buy a car. I’ve done several tests on TrueCar using zip codes for all the places I have friends/relatives along the East Coast. In that dataset, NJ was always the cheapest. Maybe it’s because I live within 15 miles of 4 Ford dealerships, 2 Chevrolets, and 4 Dodges. Unfortunately, after the sale is over, I continue to live in NJ and have to pay our high(ish) sales tax, high insurance costs while my car sits infront of my expensive house, with its own expensive property taxes.

    • 0 avatar
      igve2shtz

      In continuation of my previous comment:
      Full Disclosure – One time I did have a dealer come in under TrueCar. I was helping my sister buy a Ford Escape on January 2nd 2016. Ford was having the “Friends and Family” promotion, and with it being the end of the year, and Ford trying to pad their books, their first offer was under the TrueCar price. Unfortunately, the salesman was such a demeaning dick that my sister agreed to pay more somewhere else. A different salesman wouldn’t do … she didn’t want to support the dealership in anyway. As a car dealer, you have to be a special kind of stupid to where you piss off a customer so much that she would pay more to NOT give your company any business.

  • avatar
    JMII

    To me TrueCar is just another data point in your car price calculator. The more data you have the better decision you can make. I’ve bought vehicle using many methods: cash in hand, financial from outside source, in house finance, lease, special order, CarMax, internet manager, fleet manager, etc, etc. Its just a matter of getting a good sense of what is a terrible deal vs a reasonable deal and feeling comfortable with your choice. Sure you can fill out spreadsheets till eyes burn but at some point you have weigh the savings vs the time/effort. For me I’m willing to pay a bit more (1% on a $25K deal for example) to make my life easier.

    While traveling I noticed TrueCar has a nice glass office building in LA so they must be doing something to make money. Angie’s List has a big building in Indy so the same applies to them. Both companies advertise on TV and we all know that is expensive. So these companies provide a “service” for a fee, its up to the buyer to determine whether such fees are worth it.

  • avatar
    hreardon

    Truecar serves one purpose: convenience.

    It lets people think they’re getting a decent deal and, in theory, avoiding dealership hassles.

    Pro tip of the day: you always *always* ***always*** are paying more for convenience.

    • 0 avatar
      bikegoesbaa

      “you always *always* ***always*** are paying more for convenience”

      Not necessarily. Amazon is much more convenient than my local B&M stores, and very often less expensive.

      • 0 avatar
        joeaverage

        If only we could buy cars from the factory via the internet. Cut out the middle man, share the savings between the factory and customer. That’s more or less what Amazon is doing.

        Of course, I wonder how doing that all over would impact the economy?

      • 0 avatar
        packardhell1

        “Not necessarily. Amazon is much more convenient than my local B&M stores, and very often less expensive.”

        A price is being paid for convenience but it doesn’t have to do with money. That price is paid by local businesses going belly-up because they can’t compete. There is ALWAYS a price for convenience.

  • avatar
    bienville

    People hate haggling, news at 11. The #1 seller of new cars in the US is Costco and #2 is AutoNation, both are no-haggle. Saturn and Scion’s no-haggle dealers topped the satisfaction charts but the product couldn’t hold it’s end of the bargain. Truecar doesn’t promise the best deal, but they give you a hassle free experience at the dealer which is what most people want.

  • avatar
    NN

    I used TrueCar back in 2010 when it was a disruptor to get a great deal on a new Chevy Malibu that was a really nice car (save for the two warranty transmission rebuilds it needed before 100k miles). I remember the car stickered at $28,600, and we walked out at $22,800, with a total transaction time of about an hour. Also financed via USAA. It was a great car buying experience.

    My brother worked at Edmunds at the time and kept me up to date on the TrueCar drama, being that they are both in Santa Monica. Basically the auto dealer/retailing mafia threatened enough legal damage that TrueCar decided to work with them instead of against them, and lose their entire purpose. The stress of dealing with the threats and legal action is probably what led the poor boy to therapy. Now they are nothing but another marketing service

  • avatar
    saturnotaku

    If you’re Garfield-on-Xanax lazy, I suppose TrueCar has a place. But even a minimal amount of legwork/negotiation can net you a better result. When buying my ’17 Tucson and working directly with the dealer, with whom I’ve done business previously, netted more than a grand less than the TrueCar price. Negotiating an extra discount off the extended warranty and some more money for my trade-in sealed the deal. The longest part of the process was waiting for my wife to drive to the dealer from her office in order to sign the paperwork.

  • avatar
    benchslap

    As a former internet sales director (don’t fall for the “internet sales manager” title, those are salespeople), TrueCar is just a lead generator. We set the price at the dealer level that gets sent to TrueCar and it is ALWAYS higher than the price on our website and the price we’d really sell the car for.

    Ignore TrueCar. Walk in with their internet price and negotiate down from there.

    • 0 avatar
      fvfvsix

      C’mon… there are no “real” Internet sales “anybodies” at dealers these days. They just up you like everybody else that walks through the door :)

  • avatar
    -Nate

    ‘ had to ask the board for a raise so he could keep his Aston Martins, which emotionally damaged and triggered him to the point that he had to go to counseling.”

    The problems of rich people ~ they oughta teach this in grade school so the kiddies would understand life better .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    TW5

    It’s amazing how much power the dealers wield, and how easily the coerce companies into helping them maintain informational asymmetry in dealings with customers. It’s not surprising TrueCar was conquered. Carfax was conquered before TrueCar even existed.

    Back in the day, you could sit on car fax and comb through hundreds of VIN-based vehicle reports. It was incredibly easy to find cars that were sitting around on the lot. The most valuable finds were the trade-ins that were about to get sent to auction for non-sale.

    Those days are long gone, killed by coercion between Carfax stakeholders and NADA. You’d think regulators would intervene to help eliminate the synthesized asymmetry. Nope. NADA is far too powerful, as Elon Musk has discovered.

  • avatar
    slingshot

    Five or six years ago, TrueCar was very beneficial. By putting in various zip codes and seeing the distance to the dealership, you could easily figure out which dealership had the lowest price. Then you could go there bypassing TrueCar and obtain another discount. Car dealers balked and now it is just a shrill for the industry.

    And yes, Edmunds is terrible also. I haven’t looked at either one of their websites in years.

  • avatar
    olddavid

    I think hell just froze over.

  • avatar
    JerseyRon

    I gave TrueCar a try and the dealership came back with what seemed to be a good price. However, the dealership has higher than average doc fees. And the dealership has poor reviews. So, even if they do save the buyer on the sale price, the buyer will pay for it on the back end.

    Had a similar experience with Costco. Price appeared good but dealership also has high doc fees and adds window etching to every vehicle on the lot plus is known for pushing paint protection. Maybe they treat Costco customers better but their reputation discouraged me from pursuing.

  • avatar
    gaudette

    Only thing i’d option different is the color. Wasn’t this truck originally spec’d on a tighter budget?

  • avatar
    healthy skeptic

    Everyone sits here lamenting how TrueCar got co-opted by the dealers. Meanwhile, direct sales by the manufacturer remain illegal in most state.

    TrueCar never held a candle to Tesla for potential dealer disruption. And while TrueCar caved, Tesla is still fighting.

    Just sayin’.

  • avatar
    healthy skeptic

    Concerning the author:

    >> “As for me, however, I’m dirt-poor trash from Ohio”

    Maybe, maybe not, but poor people aren’t supposed to be spending $59k large on a brand new pickup. Either a) you’re not that poor, or b) with all due respect, I think you’re doing a pretty poor job of being poor. This is a purchase that shouldn’t happen, whether or not you got the slightly lower loan rate.

    And I’m not trying to be snarky. I’ve been through some lean times myself. It sucked from start to finish, and I realize you have to live a little even when you’re poor. Even back then, I still treated myself here and there with little things. But $59k for a luxury purchase is something I would have a hard time with now, even though I can actually afford it.

    My $0.02.

    • 0 avatar
      gaudette

      What? $199 biweekly for a lifetime. In six months the dealers will be after him to trade it in. “I can get you in a Canyonero Half-Ton 4×4 Bill Blass Ultimate Tungsten Edition for only $10 more.” $209 biweekly for a lifetime and a half. The poor can afford it. In fact, they deserve it.

      • 0 avatar
        joeaverage

        YOLO!!!! (sarcasm)

      • 0 avatar
        packardhell1

        Financing makes vehicles accessible to more people, but also to more expensive vehicles and longer loan terms.

        It makes me think of Dave Ramsey’s opening phrase on his radio show:

        “Debt is dumb, cash is king, and the paid-off home mortgage has taken the place of the BMW as the status symbol of choice.”

        Anybody can drive a BMW if they pay for it long enough. Meh, I’d rather pay my house off and keep my beater.

  • avatar
    dnnymynr

    Since you obviously (and not totally unjustified) went at this article with 110% snark, I’ll reply in the same way to a certain extent without feeling guilty for being a jerk.

    (Full disclosure, I sell cars and have used Truecar since they were called ZAG. Its a love-hate relationship, but they send to many leads for us to kick them to the curb.)

    Stick with me here, but are you seriously saying that Truecar should ignore dealers need for profitability and instead make sure they make the absolute minimum humanly possible on every deal? Even more how about make sure they lose as much money as they can? That will OBVIOUSLY make sure every single car-buyer in the world is able to get smokin deals, as every dealership in the states will fight tooth and nail to sign up to use that sweet tool with will make them next-to-zero profit. How dare they not make sure dealers lose every possible penny!

    Why do you think Truecar had a crisis? Its exactly because dealers, the people who pay Scott Painters exorbitant salary were losing their collective asses trying to compete in a massive race to the bottom. Truecar tried to help buyers 100% without thinking about dealers needs to be profitable. In competitive markets like Southern California, even today the average Truecar price is a net loss to the dealership unless they’re able to pick up some profit in financing.

    Truecar can, should, and does serve both dealers and buyers, but if they’re not balanced, no buyers will use them, and on the other side no dealers will sign up, guaranteeing no access to their discounted pricing. Your logic as to who Truecar should and is serving is flawed as your (terrible) ability to buy a car for a good price.

    That dealership was laughing at you as you voluntarily handed them more profit than they ever thought they’d be able to do!

    USAA’s agreement is that you use a USAA-certified dealer, it does not in any way bind you to that exact number, just that you use that dealer! The manager who decided to mark your truck down so far beyond the Truecar price was sighing with relief while they picked up $1000-$2000 as you voluntarily offered them extra money out of the kindness of your heart!

    While I enjoy a nice snarky article, its kinda sad to realize the further you get in the author has very little clue what the heck he’s talking about.

    The funny part (sucky for the dealer) is that because you used Truecar, whether or not you feel you used their pricing, the dealer still had to pay them $350 since they sold to a Truecar lead…

  • avatar
    Kendahl

    Especially with the internet to find vehicles, I fail to see what a buying service, even one that’s really on your side, can offer. Spec out the vehicle you want down to the last detail. Pit competing dealers against each other making it clear that low man wins. The arithmetic can get complicated if you have to compare a higher price with a lower interest rate to the reverse. I agree that it’s annoying to have to repeatedly refuse the overpriced crap the F&I guy pushes at you.

  • avatar
    DudeMcLovin

    USAA is a great. I use them for banking, investments, insurance, and loans. It’s a bummer to hear how bad their car buying service is. I’ve heard of it but never used it and now never will.

    I will have to call them to bitch about it. I’ve been with them for 15 years and they do listen to their customers.

    On a side note – Jack you fucking crack me up. You are one of the few writers on this site that keep me hanging on. Most of the rest are….blah (including Posky)

  • avatar
    nrd515

    For grins, I looked up a TrueCar price on a car I want, but am not ready to buy, and the TrueCar price was about $1500 higher than the price listed on the dealer’s website. Are people really so lazy they don’t look at this stuff?


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