A version of this article originally appeared on TrueCar.com.
The ongoing coronavirus pandemic changed the car-buying process, first by de-emphasizing the showroom experience. Now, electronic chip shortages have caused a tight squeeze on the production and availability of new vehicles.
Many buyers who need transportation are adjusting their expectations, opting to purchase alternative makes and models, or buying used cars instead.
Unfortunately, the used-car market also has been significantly affected, as the dwindling new-car supply has dramatically increased the prices of the pre-owned vehicles that are available. Competition to purchase the limited inventory is stiff, and potential rising interest rates may spur more people to try to buy before they go up.
No one knows for certain when the automobile supply-and-demand situation will return to normal. That’s why it’s more important than ever for you to have access to up-to-date information and easy-to-use tools that can help you research a wide range of makes and models, comparison-shop online easily and efficiently, locate available vehicles, and hunt down the best prices possible.
The NEA Member Auto Buying Program, powered by TrueCar, is committed to making the car-buying experience easier for NEA members, in addition to making it easier to find teacher discounts on cars. These new and innovative tools were developed to help you find the right vehicle at the right price now.
Here’s a quick overview of the new car-shopping tools available for NEA members on TrueCar.com.
Easily compare a range of vehicle models
TrueCar’s Model Overview feature helps you find the right car by comparing trims, photos and reviews for every make and model. When you select a model to view, you can compare trims in a chart that lists each trim’s starting MSRP (Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price), market average price, MPG (miles per gallon) and engine specs, as well as popular safety, performance and luxury features.
Each model’s page also includes a detailed description of its features, including a list of pros and cons. Browse photos of the model’s interior and exterior, and see video of the vehicle to learn more.
You can also read owner reviews by verified owners of the model you selected.
Explore the best options in a variety of categories
TrueCar sifted through its vast library of vehicle data to create handy “Best of” Vehicle Pages highlighting the best cars and trucks in every category to help you make smart decisions about the vehicle you want to buy.
TrueCar’s vehicle rankings are determined by using a variety of metrics to objectively evaluate every car, SUV, truck and van in categories such as comfort and amenities, performance, tech features and more.
Quickly identify your ideal vehicle
Another great feature is the Model Search Interview tool, which asks you a few simple questions: which body styles and features you’re interested in, and what your price range is. Once complete, you’ll see a list of models that match your preferences.
Based on your answers, the tool will show you which new vehicles best suit your preferences and budget. From there, you can filter even further on features such as MPG, fuel type and transmission type.
Compare your top choices at a glance
The comprehensive Comparison Tool lets you select two makes and models to easily compare them side-by-side across a wide range of features.
You’ll see a star rating for each vehicle based on driver reviews, MSRP, market average price and MPG for both vehicles.
Below that, you’ll find a thorough list of features displayed by category, including interior, technology, performance and safety.
Like anything you see? You have the option to search for vehicles at dealerships near you.
Track car dealership inventories
Use the New Car Inventory Search and Used Car Inventory Search to browse listings for new inventory and used vehicle inventory based on your search preferences, including price, model year, make, model, mileage, trim, popular features, vehicle condition and more. Use the filters to narrow, organize and sort your search results.
When you’ve found the right vehicle for you, add it to your favorites so you can receive price-drop notifications and vehicle recommendations.
When you save your search, you’ll be notified when new vehicles are listed that meet your criteria. That notification feature can give you a competitive advantage, helping you find and buy your preferred auto before anyone else can swoop in.
Check for available deals, incentives and educator discounts
TrueCar compiles deals and incentives from each manufacturer so you can save even more on your next vehicle. On the Deals and Incentives pages, select the model in the filter at the top of the page to see any cash offer or special financing options that are available.
It’s simple to apply these incentives to your vehicle purchase with the Build & Price feature. First, use the configurator to build the vehicle you want, and then select the incentives you want.
Determine the value of your current vehicle
With the NEA Member Auto Buying Trade program, you can sell or trade-in your car quickly and easily.
First, enter your car’s information to instantly see a value estimate.
Next, fine-tune your value: Answer a few questions about color and mileage, and see immediately how they affect your car’s value.
Finally, when you’re ready to sell or trade, get a real cash offer from a local dealer. If you’re not ready, no worries: Your cash offer is good for three days at a Certified Dealer near you.
Calculate your auto loan options
Next, let the Loan & Lease Calculator help you estimate monthly vehicle payments that fit your budget. Enter your down payment and monthly term preferences, and the calculator crunches the numbers to estimate your monthly payment.
Buy your vehicle completely online
TrueCar’s Buy From Home initiative lets you handle all aspects of your vehicle purchase without ever needing to go into the dealership. Look for the Buy From Home badge on the TrueCar website next to dealers’ names to find dealerships offering this service.
Begin your purchasing paperwork online, then have your final paperwork dropped off for completion in the comfort of your own home. Your vehicle can be delivered directly to your home, making it as easy as possible for you to test-drive and complete your new purchase.
The Buy From Home initiative also includes enhanced sanitization and safety precautions. When it’s time to take possession of your vehicle, your Certified Dealer will wear gloves and cover the seats during the transportation and delivery process. Upon your request, your dealer will remove the seat covers when the car is delivered to you.
Your dealer will also wipe down key surfaces of your car, including the steering wheel and gear shift, with an EPA-approved disinfectant.
Research and buy a new or used vehicle today
Some dealers may have limited inventory due to the global microchip shortage, but you can access upfront member price offers and special teacher discounts and incentives on local in-stock inventory with the NEA Member Auto Buying Program. NEA Member Benefits and TrueCar are here to support you with the tools you need to make a great decision on your next vehicle.
Bonus benefit: Check for car insurance too!
Once you’ve selected your new or used vehicle, check the NEA Auto & Home Insurance Program to see what kind of educator discount and perks you can get as an NEA member. We can help you learn how to get and compare auto insurance quotes, see why we offer the best car insurance tailored for educators, and compare how your current auto insurance stacks up.