Save Money on a New Car by Ordering From a Factory

Save Money on a New Car by Ordering From a Factory

The shortage of vehicles at dealerships over the past two years has prompted more consumers to order cars from manufacturers.

In return for a few weeks - or months - of waiting, you get exactly what you want. At present, you will also likely save money.

Even though many Americans have long been accustomed to finding the vehicles on the same day, the "build-to-order" regimen is widespread in Europe. It is the method employed by electric vehicle manufacturers such as Tesla, Lucid and Rivian. 

Due to supply chain delays that have resulted in bidding wars for vehicles landing on dealer lots, build-to-order is enjoying a moment in the United States.

Some Ford models can now be ordered online and delivered to a dealership. In November, the company took 74,000 new retail orders for new vehicles, increasing 64,000 over the previous month.
Special orders are welcomed by most dealerships as well.

Build-to-order is it cheaper? Possibly.
According to Ron Montoya, senior consumer advice editor and content strategist for, purchasing a car directly from the manufacturer can also save you money in terms of dealer markups.

Montoya's aunt recently purchased a Subaru Crosstrek from a local dealer for $1000 over the sticker price, and she asked the dealer to order one from the factory and pay only the sticker price. "These days, a sticker price is a good price," he says.

Rather than placing a risk that your ideal car will be found elsewhere, a dealer sees a particular order as a sure sale.

You can navigate the build-to-order process if you have the luxury of waiting.
Customers order vehicles one of two ways:
You can order a vehicle from the manufacturer's website. The MSRP shown isn't guaranteed, and the dealer handles negotiations.
Contact and talk to the dealer on your own. 

Ask the dealer these details:

The dealer cannot deliver an exact delivery date, but it can give you an estimate through its ordering system. If your delivery date is too far off, you may want to consider looking elsewhere since manufacturers allot cars to dealerships differently.

Update: Clarify the no-return points. You may change your mind months before delivery back out entirely by a specific date.

Deposits typically range from $500 to $1,000. Jones states that many dealers do not cash the checks or run the credit card numbers since the promise was intended only to "prove the customer has money in the account." If you choose to back out, how will your deposit be used?

Ask what paperwork you'll receive and how you can track your vehicle's arrival after placing your order. Dealerships commonly provide build order sheets with the model, finally negotiated price and delivery date.

While it is not binding, agree on the purchase price and have the paperwork reflect the agreed-upon price. Taxes, title, license and any dealer-installed extras should be included. Make sure you know what you'll pay once the vehicle arrives. Incentives and rebates are rare these days, so Jones advises clarifying which are reflected in the price and what happens if they change.

Before arrival:
Make sure you follow up with your salesperson or track your car before it lands at the dealership. After the delivery date:

Finance. Apply for a car loan. Having a rate for the dealership to beat will help you avoid surprises.

Get it appraised. Dealerships don't give you a trade-in price until you sign the papers for your new car. Obtaining quotes from internet retailers such as Carvana can help you get the best value for your vehicle.

Consider incentives. There is no harm in checking the manufacturer's website or asking your sales representative about any new incentives.

When your new vehicle arrives

Move fast. The dealer should inform you whether the car will be marked as sold upon delivery or when the vehicle is picked up. Don't let it go, Montoya says.

Look at it. Ensure the car matches what you ordered and that it was not damaged in transit.

Discuss trades. Let the dealer know of any competing offers. You may save a significant amount of money by trading in your vehicle.

Talk to the finance department. Ask why the agreed-upon price is not honored. Neither you nor the dealer is obligated to honor the old terms when buying a car, and it may not be worth scrapping the deal and starting over because the price difference isn't worth the hassle.