What is the process for buying a vehicle that is not on the lot?

What is the process for buying a vehicle that is not on the dealer’s lot?

Suppose your dealer found the car you want at another dealership that is hours away. The two dealerships agree on a dealer trade. Do you do all the paperwork as if the car is right in front of you and just wait for it to be delivered? Or do you put down a deposit and then fill out the final paperwork once it arrives and you have test/driven inspected it? I would be wary of doing final paperwork on something I have never seen or inspected.

Are you referring to new or used cars? With new cars, you typically have to wait at least a day to take delivery of it as well after you buy it so there isn’t much difference between a car that they have on the lot and one that comes from somewhere else. People special order vehicles from the factory all the time. You take car of the financing and paperwork before those are even delivered to the dealer. A new car has to be delivered to you in brand new condition so there isn’t a risk that the dealer will still make you take it if it falls off the back of the truck or something. That is part of the contract.

That’s how I did it. I wanted the red one.

I test-drove a nearly identical (but grey-- yuck!) car on the lot, then did the purchase paperwork. In my case I had a trade-in, so the dealership actually bought my car and then loaned it back to me (at no cost) for the few days until I could take delivery of the car I actually bought.

I’m sure the dealer would be amenable to this as well, if you asked them about it.

Your locale might have a law giving you the right to return a new car within a certain grace period-- I’ve heard 3 days, 7 days, and 30 days mentioned. Check your local laws. (Washington State does not, alas.)

Law aside, the dealership or automaker might have a corporate policy allowing returns within a certain time frame. Be sure to ask about that as well. Note: in this case there will almost certainly be a fee involved.

There’s a lot more negotiation in car buying than you seem to assume. If you want to do the purchase a certain way, just ask the dealership about it-- you know: negotiate.

I don’t disagree, except for the underlined portion. I have bought 6 new cars in my lifetime (unless I’m forgetting one). I never had to wait until the next day to take delivery. As I’m filling out the forms, they’re washing and vacuuming. When I’m done signing, I drive it away.

Pretty much my story, too…I wanted a red Mustang, with a certain package (hardtop, stick-shift, V6). There was only one such car on a dealer lot in the entire eastern half of the country. I test-drove a black one at my local dealer, then waited 3 days for them to get “my” car from the other dealer.

I had to put down some earnest money on the day that they “made the sale” (and ordered the car from the other dealer), but did all of the final paperwork on actual delivery. I kept ownership of my trade-in car until that day, as well.

Well I am halfway through the process and it was exactly as if the car was in the dealer’s possession, sitting on the lot.

Starting at around 6pm, we sat down, nailed down the final price, filled out a buyer’s order with all the details, and finalized the financing- all on a car that, to the best of my knowledge, the dealership didn’t even own yet.

I heard the salesman tell one of his managers he needed someone to leave at 4am tomorrow to pick up the vehicle. After work tomorrow, I am going to give them my down payment and pick up the car. I didn’t think that they could get it to me so fast. Although it did feel odd to sign a contract on a vehicle I have never seen, the process was not as complicated as I thought.

I don’t know how it works in the US, but over here, the dealers don’t actually ‘own’ the new cars in their showroom. They remain the property of the manufacturer right up until they are sold to you. The exception to this is where a dealer takes ownership, simply to achieve his monthly target. These cars can often be had at a discount because they are now, technically, secondhand.

If you go into a franchised dealer and say that you like a car, but want it in pink (assuming that’s an option), the dealer will look on the database to see if there is one anywhere. If he finds one in another dealership, he can ask for it to be shipped to him, and he will sell it to you. The manufacturer picks up the shipping cost.

A dealer here has to do quite a lot more than vacuum a car before handing it over, and they usually allow 24 hours for pre-delivery.

In my case, it went like this:

I wanted a truck with a very specific set of features. Bed, cab size, engine, rear axle ratio, GCWR, tow package, etc. etc. (I use a pickup as an actual truck, instead of a fashion statement)

One dealer found a truck in another town with all my specs, and we haggled, and agreed on a price. I asked him for a soda, and when he left me in his office I found the location and VIN paperwork on his desk. Pretended to be unsure about the sale and promised to return later.

Drove 60 miles to the rural dealership, found that truck and undercut the salesman’s figure with a direct (on the spot) offer.
FWIW: The original dealer said he could have it there by the next day.

In 1992 I ordered a new car while in England and picked it up when I arrived in Cincinnati a couple of months later.

When shopping for my last new car, the dealership didn’t have one with a option I wanted. They traded cars with another dealership and I had what I wanted the next day.