Car Buying Question: Factory order

I’m not sure how I would phrase this for an internet search, so I turn to you.

Background: I want to buy a new car with a very specific set options, accessories and color combination. I’m not asking for a car “customization”, but selecting only certain items from the listed manufacturers options. It is for a particular make of vehicle that is not as popular in this area as it is in other parts of the country. (It is a Subaru FWIW. There are few Subbie dealers in the central plains states). It is likely that the car I want, with the options I want, will not be in dealer inventory. At least not locally.

Therefore, it seems likely that the dealer will need to order the vehicle for me.
Now to the question: When do I hand the dealer over the check? Is that when they order the vehicle for me or when they deliver the vehicle to me?

Also, I’ve already been online shopping/pricing at Edmunds and KBB, so I have a good idea of what I am willing to pay. But since the vehicle I want will not be subject to dealer inventory taxes or whatever that is if they leave it on the showroom floor for xx days, can I wiggle my offer price down even lower? That is, I understand that dealers need to pay taxes on inventory held for xx days and this should help them avoid that. Though I could clearly be wrong about all that.

Typically, the dealer will want some sort of deposit before they order the car.
We just bought a 2013 Explorer that had to be ordered from the factory. We gave them a check for $1000 when we signed the purchase order and the rest when we picked up the car.

When I bought my Subaru a few years ago, the dealer didn’t have the exact car I wanted, but they found one in another state and transported it for me. I forget exactly how much I gave them up front, but it was a nominal amount.

I can’t address the taxes question. Congrats on your Subaru!

Deposit and credit approval or proof of funding.

They assess the risk and then build what you want. When delivered, it’s time to pay.

Your credit worthiness, ability to leave deposit and a little thing called ‘agreement of sale’ bind you. The dealer assumes some risk. It’s unavoidable. You might die or fall ill or find yourself unable to pay six weeks later when the vehicle is done.

It’s ok for the dealer to assume this risk. The dealer would stock one less vehicle because yours is considered stock, if their budget is that tight. That’s how the dealer hedges.

I just bought a new Subaru a few months ago. I originally considered ordering one with the exact color and features I wanted but I got a better deal, I think, by buying one off the lot. I thought ordering would get me the best deal. Now I don’t think it works that way. In the end the dealer was willing to lower the price on what he had, maybe to move them off the lot or to get me in a car while he had me there, something. They were unwilling to deal at all on orders. That could just be me or my dealer.

Exactly so. When I bought my Mustang last year, I wanted a particular package (V6, stick, premium stereo, candy apple red), which my local dealer had to locate from another dealer (apparently, there may have only been one such car on a dealer lot in this entire region). IIRC, I put down $1000 to get them to do this, and I had the car 3 days later. The dealer really wanted me to buy the car that they had on their lot, but it was black, and I had my heart set on the red – they offered me a pretty good deal on the black car, but I’m glad I stuck to my guns.

Your local Subaru dealer may decide to pursue that option, i they think that making you wait for a factory order may cost them the sale.

We did everything we could to save money on our last car, and the only way to get it without a lot of options, and with manual windows/locks/transmission, was to “order” it. But it wasn’t quite “from the factory”. In about five minutes on their network, they found a car like that three states away. No extra cost, and we saved a bundle (buying it “unbundled”).

Turns out, they would’ve had to do that with any “stick shift”. No manuals on the lot, or anywhere nearby.

But watch out-- as I recall, it was easier to get “no options” than to cherry-pick. Some options only come with others: “Oh, the only way to get the rally tachometer is to order the rally package, which comes with the pin-striping and the fuzzy dice…”

ETA: Best thing about stick? Teenage daughter’s friends can’t pressure her to let them drive! (Heck, you should see them try to find “the switch for the window”, all the while ignoring the big crank on the inside of the door)

As far as getting it for the best price, and at the risk of being a broken record since I always recommend this, I recommend you buy it through the Costco Auto Buying service. You’ll get the car you want at the best price, without any haggling or negotiation. You tell Costco the type of car you want and your location. They send back a list of dealers close to you that participate in their program. On the list will be the name or names of the leasing manager at that dealer. You do everything through him/her. Over the last couple of decades, every new car I have bought, I purchased this way.

Good Luck,

Subaru (and many car companies for that matter) has a “check local inventory” feature on their website. Punch in your zip code and you’ll get a list of dealers within an x mile radius and you can check their inventory. You might get lucky!

I’ve owned 3 MINIs and here’s what happened to me:

  1. $500 to order car to my specs
  2. Bought one off the lot
  3. Waived the preorder fee since I was a 3rd time customer (this was a special order also).

Unfortunately, I only had my 3rd one for 5 1/2 months before some yahoo turned in front of me when I was going 40mph and it was totaled. :frowning:

Thanks for all the replies.

jharvey963 I would love to go through the Costco Buying program, but when I checked a couple of months ago, they had no Subaru dealers in their program that were even 250 miles from me. Just not a big Subaru area…yet. Though maybe they have added one by now.

FWIW, I want the 2013 Outback 3.6R Limited with the “Eyesight” option. Trailer hitch, splash guards, wheel arch moldings, side trim moldings, rear bumper protector, remote start and a few other items. In Ice Silver. Ice Silver is important, because I do not want to spend every weekend at the car wash. Our 2005 Subaru Legacy GT Limited is GREAT, but it is dark blue and shows “dirt” like crazy. Got that one “off the lot” after a few dealer add-ons.

Be aware that some of the “available” options may amount to vaporware. A friend wanted a truck with particular options suited to his intended use:V-8 engine, 8’ bed, manual transmission, heavy duty suspension, low ratio axle. Dodge finally admitted that they never had, and were not willing to build such a truck, even though these were all supposed to be available options. He did end up ordering a truck, but not spec’d quite like he wanted.

Was he buying a 2500HD or above? I’ve never shopped for a truck in my life and I know that none of the Big 3(well not Ford and Dodge, anyway, maybe GM did but who buys those?) have offered a manual transmission and a V8 together in a light duty pickup ever in the last 10 years. That seems like a strange thing to expect them to have.

I have a 2007 Dodge 1500 V8 6-speed sitting in my driveway as we speak. 2008 was the last year for manuals in the big 3’s half-ton trucks (it seems suspicious that all three discontinued the option the same year, but that’s what happened).

But, to the OP, the days of being able to buy a car a la carte are long since gone. There’s no real reason why you would need to order from the factory because there’s only a handful of option configurations out there and you will always be able to find one on a lot somewhere, even if you might have to travel a bit.

(Rant mode: I bought my big honkin’ Dodge used after being given the run-around from Toyota about whether it was possible to get a crew cab 4wd Tacoma with a 4-cylinder. Turns out nope and my big V8 stick-shift Dodge gets the same highway mileage as a V6 Tacoma and cost about a third what I was looking to pay for a new Taco. Toyota definitely lost my money by not offering the truck I wanted.)

A lot of those options are things the dealer (or you) can install in house.

Not true in the case of my MINI. After I was totaled, he did a search nationwide for anything like mine with the same options (even including other colors). There was nothing.

The only way to get the same specs again was to reorder from the factory.

Late 1990s Dodge Dakota (small pickup). He needed to drag a large but not too heavy trailers all over the country. (one or two airplanes in trailer). Wanted a bed long enough to sleep inside a camper shell. I think he also wanted the extended cab. Can’t recall what he had to compromise on. Next time he needs something and calls me, I’ll see if he remembers. This may seem like ancient history, but he is still using that truck, and it looks pretty good. It must have around a half million miles on it by now.

If the basic car exists on some far-away dealers lot and they just need to ship it here then add some of my nice options…to me I guess that is functionally equivalent to a factory order. So far as it isn’t on the local dealer lot right now and will need to be shipped in from somewhere.

I think Subaru just does not do the volume of business in this part of the country that it does in other parts. And even in those areas where it does better, it is rarely tops in units sold. To me, this means that it will likely need to be shipped from “some distance”. And this distance will be further than I wish to drive. OTOH, the model I want is manufactured in the states, in Indiana. So the factory itself may be physically closer than some other dealer lot.

My “needs” are actually very basic. I want the top trim level, the 6 cyl instead of the 4 cyl, with the optional “eyesight” package, in a particular color. Pretty much everything else I want is or can be dealer add.

So I suspect the answer to my original question is that I need to put down some deposit money ( say $500 - $1000 ) , while the local dealer sends for this vehicle from somewhere (factory or other dealer) and once it is at the local dealer and they finish my particulars; only then do I cough up the remainder.

Right, but that’s likely to only be a matter of days (to have it shipped from another dealer, and any new options added), whereas a factory order will probably take weeks, at a minimum, even though the plant is in Indiana.

That’s very likely to be accurate.

FTR: A manual trans is often a liability in a common work truck, because of the clutch. The automatics allow the high tow ratings, fuel economy (managed shifting by computer) and low-speed grunt work that won’t cook a clutch.

A manual trans in a 1/2 ton truck or similar is a liability on all fronts.


If you factory order a car, make sure what they deliver has everything you asked for, and nothing you didn’t ask for if it’s a detriment. I had a dealer try to get me to take a car with an automatic even though I ordered a manual. The salesman kept telling me it was a factory mistake, and tried to hem and haw his way out of refunding my deposit. Eventually I heard a manager yelling at him in the back saying “Give the man his money!”. I doubt the factory was confused, they probably found a car at another lot and just wanted to complete the sale. I’d been waiting for 3 months, and they may not have even ordered anything.

I’d suggest go online and see if you can find what you want at a dealer within traveling distance. If your going to pay the premium for a new car, you should get exactly what you want.