Monday, December 07, 2020
TrueCar: Almost as Good as Costco to Buy Your Next New Car
In my previous column, I recommended CostcoAuto.com as the “Your Best Bet for a Low Price”. You can access that column at EarlOnCars.com. TrueCar.com is almost as good as Costco. When you use TrueCar carefully and diligently, you’ll get a fair, low price. When you use the Costco Auto Buying program, you’ll probably get a lower price, but not by much. This is because Costco contractually requires their certified dealers to give Costco members a lower price than they have sold the same car to anybody else.
So, why am I even mentioning TrueCar? It’s because (1) TrueCar’s program is easier to understand and use, (2) dealers’ hidden fees and extra dealer installed accessories are more clearly added to the bottom line price, (3) TrueCar offers many more certified dealers to choose from, (4) TrueCar gives your market price comparisons of what other buyers of the car you are buying paid, (5) TrueCar doesn’t require a $60 annual membership fee, and (6) perhaps most importantly, you can transact a TrueCar purchase entirely online. Costco requires you to go into the dealership.
I just mystery-shopped, online, TrueCar for a new 2020 Ford F-150 XLT with an MSRP of $46,525. I used a factitious name and email address. No phone number is required. I was able to get quotes from 42 Ford dealers, but I chose only to get final prices from two within a reasonable distance, Wayne Acres Ford in Greenacres, FL and Grieco Ford in Delray, FL. The lower of the two was Grieco Ford with an $8,299 discount from MSRP plus $1,459 in dealer fees and dealer installed accessories for bottom line price of $39,685. This price also included all factory incentives. All I’d have to pay in addition to drive my new F150 home were government fee…sales tax and license/registration.
I could probably have gotten a slightly lower price if I’d pursued this with some of the other 40 TrueCar certified Ford dealers available to me. However, TrueCar showed this price to be an excellent one based on actual transaction prices from their database. To be a TrueCar certified dealer, you must agree to allow TrueCar to access your computer database which reveals the actual transaction prices on all the vehicles you sell. In the last 30 days, my price was well below the average price…there were 4 sales of this F150 at a “high” price, 4 at a “fair” price, 8 at a “great” price, and 7 others at an “excellent’ price like mine.
It took me about 10 minutes to go through the above process. If I had been a real buyer, I could have gotten the lowest price from 42 Ford dealers, and it would have taken me an hour two. Compare this with driving from dealership to dealership, shopping dealer websites online, making phone calls, and there’s no comparison. As I said at the beginning of this article, don’t use your real name or email address and there’s absolutely no reason to give dealers your phone number. The harassment from car salesmen if you shopped 42 Ford dealerships and gave them your real contact information would be ENORMOUS. You can easily obtain a free email address from Google, Microsoft Outlook, Apple/iCloud, and AOL.
If you really want a super-low price and don’t mind spending a little more time,use Costco and TrueCar. Remember, that you’ll rarely see two car dealers quote you the same price on the same car. The more dealers you check and the more prices you compare, the lower the price you can get. Comparing at least threedealers is necessary, and you’ll realize a large savings from this. As you shop and compare more than three, the amount of the savings decreases incrementally. The Internet which spawned online car buying and third-party car buying companies like Costco Auto and TrueCar makes it possible to shop and compare as many dealerships as you want to. Furthermore, you’re doing all this from the comfort and privacy of your home.