Car Buyer Labs

Car Buying Advice, Tips, and Reviews

A woman is shown talking on a cellphone.

Everything You Need to Know About Factory Ordering

When it comes time to purchase a new vehicle, many people are accustomed to visiting a dealership, like their local Ford dealer, Chevy dealer, VW dealer, etc., and picking out a car that very day. If you need a car ASAP, that is certainly the best way to go because the vehicles you see are ready to go home with you on the spot. However, many drivers are re-discovering the age-old process of factory ordering your vehicle. You might have even noticed this option on a dealer’s website via a tab offering you to custom order a car from a manufacturer. It fell slightly out of popularity in recent decades, but with the shortage of new vehicle options on lots, factory ordering is making a comeback.

Very few manufacturers can actually sell a car directly to the buyer. You will still be working with a dealer, but ultimately, you aren’t limited to the options that the dealer has on their lot, and you have a lot more control over your vehicle. Here’s everything there is to know about factory ordering a vehicle.

Get Exactly What You Want

One of the reasons to factory order a car is that you can get exactly what you want instead of being limited to what your local dealer carries. You can essentially build your dream car from scratch, choosing the specific packages you wish to add, selecting and adding available infotainment and driver assist features, choosing the exact color you’re after, and so on and so forth. You won’t need to compromise and nix a feature that was meaningful to you. This can be especially useful if a certain feature or package you’re after isn’t popular in your region of the country—you might not find it in dealers’ stocks, but you can order it.

Another benefit of doing it this way is that you’re encouraged to put real thought into what you want out of a vehicle. When you walk into a dealership, you can be easily excited by the options in front of you and forget about what you set out to find. When you factory order a car, you’ll sit down at a computer and make thoughtful choices about what would enhance the driving experience for you.

A factory order car is shown on an assembly line.

You Will Work With a Dealer

In most cases, you will be buying from a dealer in the end. You can go to a manufacturer’s website, set up the car you want, and then they will connect you with a local dealer who will finish the transaction for you. Or, you can go to your local dealer’s website and use the factory order form there. Either way, you will ultimately be buying this vehicle from a dealer. They will serve as your point of contact with the manufacturer until the car is ready for pickup, and they’ll also be with whom you negotiate the price.

Because you’ll be working with a dealer, it’s a good idea to research which one you want to work with before putting in an order. You can create exactly what you want if the manufacturer’s builder tool and print that out and show it to several dealers to see what they’ll charge you. Compare prices, just as you would if you were buying directly from a dealer. It’s also a good idea to research dealers to see what other drivers have had to say about their communication efficiency and transparency. When waiting on a factory-ordered car, you need a dealership that keeps you informed in a timely manner.

Do ask if there is a deposit (there likely will be). Find out how much it’s for and whether or not it’s refundable. Every dealer has its own rules and regulations. Your deposit might be refundable if, for example, the car is taking far longer than expected. Or it might not be refundable under any circumstance. It’s important to get clarity on this.

Tips for Customizing Your Vehicle

You can customize your factory-ordered vehicle almost as much as you’d like. However, that doesn’t mean that you should. If you plan on re-selling the car one day, you’ll be in better shape if you have a car that’s appealing to a wide range of buyers. While you might have thought that bright color or that expensive speaker system were must-haves, future buyers probably won’t think so, and that will limit your re-selling power. If you want to re-sell it, keep the car to a model that many buyers could see themselves in. (Hint: stick to dark blue, gray, silver, or black cars and skip that bright orange or metallic green). However, dramatic choices in features or color can also make your car more desirable to the right buyer, so take this advice with a grain of salt and do what will make you the happiest.

How Long a Factory-Ordered Car Takes

Getting a factory-ordered vehicle can make sense if you have the time to wait. However, if you need to drive a car today in order to continue to work or handle other critical elements of your life, it might not be the best choice unless you have a backup plan until your car arrives. Domestic, factory-ordered cars can take around eight weeks, and international vehicles can take up to three months. Of course, this is dependent on things going as planned. If there turns out to be a parts shortage, a factory shutdown, or some other unexpected obstacle, your car could take much longer. One of the perks of buying a car on the dealer lot is that it already exists. You know it does––you’re looking at it. Also, some dealers are limited in how often they can put in factory order requests. In fact, certain dealers can only do so on a quarterly basis, so be clear on when your chosen dealer will actually order your car.

You Can Finance It

You can absolutely finance a factory-ordered vehicle just as you would with any other vehicle. This is something you can get to after landing on an initial price for the vehicle since the price of the car influences the loan terms. If you do plan on financing it, prepare for this as you would with any other car loan. That means knowing what size of down payment you can afford, knowing what your credit score is, and knowing what you can afford to pay monthly.

A salesperson is shown typing on a calculator at a Ford dealer.

Get What You Really Want By Factory-Ordering Your Car

If you want something specific and your local dealer doesn’t have it, factory ordering a car can be a great way to go. When you find a car you love at a dealer, but it’s missing that one thing you were really hoping for, you don’t just have to accept that. Factory ordering a car is like getting to build it yourself, picking out every single feature, inside and out, from the upholstery to the transmission.

There are some things it’s important to understand because factory ordering isn’t for everyone. It’s not for anyone who needs a car right away (unless they have another way to get around until the car arrives). And if you do plan on re-selling it, it’s important not to get too creative with the customization because not everyone wants pink fuzzy seats or a horn that plays a Britney Spears song. However, if you have the time to wait, and want something really specific, a factory order can be the way to go.