Ordering a Car From the Manufacturer: What You Need to Know

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For years now, car dealerships have been experiencing widespread inventory shortages that could last until 2024. This has left would-be car buyers with fewer options, causing them to settle for something they’re not completely satisfied with, pay more than expected or explore other options like private sellers. 

What can you do if a dealership doesn’t have what you’re looking for and you don’t want to buy from a third-party seller? Today many car buyers are going straight to the manufacturer. Ordering directly from the manufacturer might not occur to buyers that are accustomed to working with dealerships, but it has numerous benefits and can end up saving you some money. 

Benefits of ordering from the manufacturer

By and large, car dealerships try to keep their lots full of cars that people want to buy. This probably seems obvious, but it presents a problem when you’re looking for something a little more customized than what the dealership has to offer. Dealerships place their orders based on expected demand and what the manufacturer can easily supply. If you’re in the market for a car with a specific color, special features and interior designed to your liking, you might be out of luck. Your options at this point are to settle, shop around at other dealerships (with no guarantee of them having what you want) or get the car built just for you.

That third option, ordering a car built to your specifications, is becoming a more popular course of action for car buyers and a permanent sales model that manufacturers are providing. A built-to-order approach gets customers the exact vehicle they’re looking for while reducing unnecessary inventory from dealership lots. It also prevents manufacturers from building too many cars that might not end up selling. 

Additionally, since you’re placing the order with the auto manufacturer, you avoid any markups a dealership could have added to the vehicle’s price had it been sitting on their lot when you came to purchase it. Finally, there’s no negotiating when it comes to factory-direct purchasing. This might be seen as a negative for some buyers who like to haggle for a deal, but overall it gives customers a more transparent pricing model that goes a long way in eliminating hidden fees and upcharges. 

How to order a car from the manufacturer

Even when you order directly from the manufacturer, dealerships are still heavily involved. Unless you’re working with Tesla or some of the newer EV manufacturers like Lucid Motors, Rivian or Volvo’s new electric line, the automaker you buy from will still need you to select a dealership where your vehicle will be delivered. The dealership will also act as your main point of contact for product and shipment updates, as well as handle the paperwork required to process your order. 

The buying process will start on the manufacturer’s website. From there, you’ll build the car to meet your specifications and select a dealership to handle the rest. To lock in your purchase, you’ll have to pay an order fee or put money down for a reservation if it’s a new model that hasn’t been released yet. 

One minor downside to ordering direct from the factory is that you won’t get the satisfaction of driving off the lot in your brand-new car after signing the papers. After choosing your new ride and completing the necessary documentation, the manufacturer will get to work. If the car is being built by a domestic automaker, it will typically take around eight weeks without delays to build and deliver your new car. If your car is coming from overseas, delivery times are closer to three months.

If you’re purchasing a car with high demand like the Ford F-150 Lightning, you will first be placed on a waiting list until the factory can build your vehicle. Your contact at the local dealership will provide you with timelines and updates while your car is in production and transit.

Keep these timelines in mind in regard to your current car. You’ll want to make sure you have the timing right if you plan to trade in your current vehicle, or if you still have remaining payments. 

Trading in your current vehicle

If you do plan to trade in your current vehicle, there are some things you need to consider ahead of time. The timing of the sale is important since you won’t be able to get your factory-direct car right away. Keep a close eye on the production and shipping timeline of your new car. If you sell your current car too soon, you could be without a ride for weeks or even months. 

Additionally, you’ll need to decide how and where to sell your car. You can do a trade-in at the dealership, work with a third-party company like Carmax or even sell to local, private buyers on a marketplace like Craigslist. Each option has its own pros and cons depending on how much money you want to get for your used car and how much effort you want to put into the sale. 

If you decide to trade in your vehicle, your local dealership will complete the process when your new car arrives. It’s recommended that you negotiate the price of your trade-in separately from the new car you are buying. This is the best way to get the most money for your used vehicle. Once you’ve negotiated your trade-in value and your new car arrives at the dealership, you can put the money from your trade-in towards your new car payment. 
Do some research ahead of time to determine your car’s market value. Sites like Kelley Blue Book and Edmunds will help you get a good estimate of how much your car is worth. Also, be sure to take care of any simple mechanical or cosmetic issues on the car—some simple maintenance can go a long way in making your car more appealing to buyers.


Can you cancel a preordered car?

Yes. While every automaker will have its own cancellation policies, you will be able to cancel the order if you need to. Some states will even allow you to return the vehicle within a certain time frame after you receive it. Keep in mind that you may not be able to get your initial deposit back if you choose to cancel. 

How long does it take to get a car from the manufacturer?

If you order a car directly from the factory, you’ll need to factor in the time it takes to build the car and then have it shipped to your location. If the car is being built domestically, it will take eight weeks on average to arrive. Customers who order cars from manufacturers overseas have had wait times of up to four months. Remember that these timeframes are always subject to change based on the manufacturer as well as supply and demand.

Does ordering a car from the factory cost more?

Ordering a vehicle directly from the manufacturer can often cost less than buying from a dealership. Buying directly from the automaker can get you the exact car you want while bypassing any extra fees or upcharges a car dealer might add on.

Ship your new car safely with Montway

Wherever you end up buying your new car from, one thing is certain: you’ll want it shipped safely and efficiently. Montway Auto Transport is the highest-rated car shipping company in the country, arranging shipments for cars, trucks, EVs, motorcycles and more to all 50 states. Make sure your car is in good hands no matter where it’s going. Get started today with an instant quote or speak directly with a vehicle shipping advisor at 888-666-8929.

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