As an extra benefit to ConsumerReports.org and Consumer Reports magazine subscribers, Consumer Reports is pleased to offer access to the Build & Buy Car Buying Service at no additional charge. Intended to complement Consumer Reports' suite of auto ratings, reviews, and buying advice, the program, administered by TrueCar, Inc. is designed to help consumers buy vehicles at a competitive price from dealers who have agreed to abide by certain guidelines.
While Consumer Reports has long provided in-depth car-buying advice, subscribers have been on their own in finding dealerships that they want to work with. The Consumer Reports Build & Buy Car Buying Service is intended to help make car buying easier, with less hassle and anxiety. The program also helps Consumer Reports further its ongoing work and mission, because TrueCar pays us a flat fee for each vehicle sold to a program participant by a participating dealer. Consumer Reports has no direct contact or any financial relationship with any dealerships. For more details, see "What is TrueCar and what is its relationship to Consumer Reports?"
What are the advantages of using the Build & Buy Car Buying Service?
- Upfront dealer pricing information (in most states). The program provides you access to robust, current information about the make and model of vehicle you may be interested in buying. Plus, you can access this information before even visiting the dealership.
- Guaranteed Savings off MSRP (in most states). In most states, the program allows you to obtain a Certificate from a participating dealer that will guarantee you a certain amount of savings from MSRP on any in-stock vehicle of the same make, model, and trim as the "virtual vehicle" you configure on the website. In some states, guaranteed savings are not available, but in this case, you will receive a Certificate containing an estimate of what you could reasonably expect to pay at a participating dealer for your "virtual vehicle" as configured on the website, based on analysis of current market data.
- Pre-screened dealers. The program includes more than 11, 000 participating dealers nationwide who have been certified by TrueCar for their commitment to providing high customer satisfaction, have been trained on the program, and have agreed to follow strict guidelines of conduct.
- Easy-to-use tools. The program allows you to quickly configure a "virtual vehicle" with the trim, color, and options you want and then get a Build & Buy Car Buying Service Certificate. In most states, this Certificate will provide an Estimated Dealer Price, which is an estimate of the pricing available to Consumer Reports subscribers from participating dealers in your area for the "virtual vehicle" you configured. In some states, Estimated Dealer Prices are unavailable through the program, and in those states, the Certificate will provide a Target Price, which is an estimate of what you could reasonably expect to pay for your "virtual vehicle" as configured, based on analysis of current market data. This Certificate can be applied to any in-stock vehicle of the same make and model on the dealer's lot.
- Your identity is safeguarded. You can use the service as much as you want without revealing your identity to any dealers unless you choose to. Your identity will be concealed from dealers, and theirs from you, when the Estimated Dealer Price (or Target Price in applicable states) is initially displayed. You may then choose to send your identity to none, any, or all of the dealers, and in return their identities will be revealed to you.
- No obligation. There is never an obligation to buy when using the program. You can always change your mind about the vehicle, price, or dealership, or whether you want to buy a car at all.
- You receive all applicable incentives. Participating dealers are required to pass along to you all applicable vehicle specific manufacturer discounts for in-stock vehicles.
Configure your "virtual vehicle" by selecting the make, model, and trim level that you want to buy. Then specify the exterior and interior colors, and choose the options that interest you. After you have done this, the program will display an Estimated Dealer Price, which is an estimate of the pricing available to Consumer Reports subscribers from participating dealers in your area for the "virtual vehicle" you configured. In some states, Estimated Dealer Prices are unavailable through the program, and in those states, a Target Price will be displayed, which is an example of what you could reasonably expect to pay for your virtual vehicle as configured, based on analysis of current market data.
Verify your contact information. At this point, the selected dealerships are described only in terms of their distance from your stated zip code, and your identity is hidden from them. If you choose, you will then have the option to send your contact and vehicle information to any of the dealers, and the dealers' identities will be revealed to you.
Once you select the dealers you would like to work with, you will receive a Certificate from each dealership. In most states, your Certificate will include an Estimated Dealer Price as well as a Guaranteed Minimum Savings off MSRP for any in-stock vehicle of the same make and model as the "virtual vehicle" you configured. In some states, your Certificate will provide a Target Price, which is an example of what you could reasonably expect to pay for your "virtual vehicle" as configured, based on analysis of current market data. Either way, your Certificate(s) will reveal the names of the participating dealers(s) you selected in Step 2.
Remember, you may opt out of this process at any point, and you are under no obligation to buy. In addition, no dealer gets your name or contact information unless and until you choose to contact that dealer.
Contact your selected participating dealer(s) for a test drive. Print your Certificate or have it available to show on your mobile device so you are identified as a Consumer Reports subscriber and receive all appropriate savings. Make sure to check the expiration date of any listed incentives.