As mentioned, TrueCar serves as an intermediary between consumers and dealerships to provide one source for car buying and selling. To help you understand how their platform works, we will break down the company’s car buying and selling process, along with related support tools on their website and app.
How Buying a Car Through TrueCar Works
When buying a used or new car through TrueCar, there are a variety of filters and options to choose from to find the best car for the lowest price. The car buying experience begins with searching for a car through the company’s search engine for either used or new vehicles, including electric cars. Car buyers can break down what you want by things like make, model, vehicle type, color, accessories and pricing. You can even filter choices by specifications like engine, cab height, payment type and more.
After this point, you will need to fill in your ZIP code to see what applicable deals are available in your area. There will also be deals presented for financing and cash offer incentives that are completely optional. Once you’ve decided on a TrueCar offer, you need to provide contact information and speak to a representative of the certified local dealer. Prices are negotiable, so if you want the best deal, you can haggle with the salesperson to get favorable terms.
Financing or Leasing
Since TrueCar works directly with dealerships, they also offer financing and leasing services through their network. While you may find favorable terms when searching for offers on the platform, you ultimately have to talk to a dealer to close the deal — and negotiating can save a significant amount of money.
In addition to helpful search tools for car buying, the company also offers these additional features and services:
- Car affordability calculator: Use information like your credit score, desired monthly payment, down payment and vehicle type to find out which cars you can afford
- Auto loan calculator: If you are looking for the best auto loan rates for vehicle financing, use this tool to find out what rates to expect and compare offers
- Car lease calculator: Find out how much you can afford for a lease
- Lease matching: Enter your desired car and get matched with certified dealers to find the best deal
- Car finder quiz: If you are unsure of what type of car you want, this quiz will help you find the car that fits what you are looking for
- Car reviews and rankings: The company aggregates information such as reliability, overall driving experience, pricing and maintenance costs to help you make an informed decision
- Car comparison tool: If you are between two options for vehicles, using this tool will help you compare the details
TrueCar Military Program
TrueCar also offers a car buying program tailored to active duty military, veterans and their family members. The program comes with special savings and incentives for military service members, such as repair reimbursements up to $4,000, car buying guides and a dedicated customer service hotline.
How Selling a Car Through TrueCar Works
When you sell your car through the company, you get a feel for how mileage, certain features and any physical damage affect its total value. Once you enter all your information, you get an offer that’s good for at least three days at a certified dealer.
Selling your car via TrueCar is a simple process that involves the following steps:
- Fill in your vehicle identification number (VIN) or license plate number, state and ZIP code
- Enter specific information about your car
- Provide contact information to reveal the offer
- Take offer to the participating dealer within three days
#1 Fill in Basic Vehicle Info
The first step is to provide your car’s VIN or license plate number, along with your state and ZIP code on the TrueCar website. From there, you’ll be asked to confirm the trim level, style and mileage of your vehicle.
#2 Enter Vehicle Specifications, History and Condition
This step gets specific about your car and goes a long way toward determining its value. You’ll be asked to provide the following information about the vehicle:
- Exterior color
- Interior color and material
- Transmission type
- Optional equipment
- Title type (clean, salvage or rebuilt) and if seller possesses it
- Accident history
- Damage to body or windshield (severity and specific types)
- Condition of seats (including whether vehicle has been smoked in)
- Presence of any mechanical issues or fluid leaks
- Any aftermarket parts
- Any issues with tires and whether they’ve been replaced or repaired
- Any damage to brakes
- How many keys seller has
#3 Provide Contact Information
In order to receive offers from TrueCar-certified dealers, you need to provide an email address and phone number. This is a sticking point for some, as agreeing to TrueCar’s terms of service can lead to a wave of calls, texts and emails from car dealers.
#4 Receive Your Offer and Take It to a Dealership
Once you’ve inputted all the necessary information, you’ll receive a “True Cash Offer” that’s valid for three days. If you like TrueCar’s offer, you’ll take it to a certified dealer to complete the transaction. You’ll likely need to complete a bill of sale to do so. Be sure to check with your local department of motor vehicles (DMV) to confirm what’s required for a vehicle sale in your state.
What If You Owe Money on the Car or Have a Lease?
You can sell your car through TrueCar even if you still owe money on a loan or lease. The process is easier if you sell a car with an auto loan, as you can contact your lender to get a payoff quote for the vehicle and then have the dealership send the payoff amount.
Selling a leased vehicle is a bit more complicated. These are the steps you’ll likely need to complete:
- Explore options for buying your vehicle early
- Work with your leasing company to buy the vehicle
- Obtain a new vehicle title in your name
- Get a TrueCar offer for your vehicle
When you sell your car with TrueCar, you will most likely need a certificate of title like the one pictured above. Photo: Rick – stock.adobe.com