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Should You Special Order a New Car?

Apr 8, 2008
With most products, special ordering means that you are going to get exactly what you want. However, special ordering a new car isn't always that simple. Once upon a time, car manufacturers would be happy to build you what you wanted. Today? Not so much. Here are a few things to consider before you special order a new car, truck, or SUV.

Usually automakers will not accept new vehicle orders during the last two or three months of the production year. Production years usually end in the last few months of summer, depending on the model and manufacturer. This means that they won't take orders between April and August, the last few months of the production year. Prime car selling season, the time of year when the deals are best, happens to coincide with most order blackout periods. So, you often can't special order when the deals are best.

Many auto manufacturers produce their vehicles overseas. Since the vehicles must be shipped across the ocean after production, the standard two-month shipping time must be added to the two months it takes to special order (4 months total). Overseas auto manufactures prefer not to accept special orders on cars due to the length of time it takes to reach the consumer. In fact, these manufacturers may not accept special orders at all. If they do accept them, they're often strongly discouraged.

There are some auto manufacturers that only offer certain features (like a sunroof for instance) as part of a "package." This package may include some features you don't want, and you may want to special order your car so you can buy the feature without having to buy the whole package. Unfortunately, a lot of auto manufacturers are unwilling to accomodate this request (Honda and Toyota are famous for offering certain options only as part of a larger package). Make sure you find out first, but sometimes you can't really order what you want.

Special ordering a car doesn't always make the most financial sense. If there's a special feature or package that you absolutely have to have, than by all means do a special order. But when you order a specific feature or package, try not to order something too out of the ordinary because it will effect your resale value. If your car is too unique, you may not be able to find a buyer when you're ready to sell. People tend to buy vehicles that are similar to the other automobiles on the road, so don't order a car that's so different no one will want it.

The last thing to think about before you order a new vehicle is that you might be able to get a better deal buying off the lot. You may have to compromise on the color, or features, or both, but if you buy off the lot you're always going to get a good deal. In fact, buying off the lot is almost always the best deal. The reason? New car dealers have to pay interest on every car that's on their lot - every day that a new car sits on a lot, it costs money. Therefore, dealers try to sell the cars they have quickly so they don't end up paying a lot of finance charges for inventory.

It used to be that you could special order whatever kind of car you wanted, but those days are fading fast. Dealers want you to buy what they have, auto manufacturers often don't want to honor special requests, and shipping times and production cycles have conspired to make ordering cars very difficult. Special ordering just isn't what it used to be.
About the Author
Author Jason Lancaster, a car business veteran, created AccurateAutoAdvice.com. You'll find accurate advice on special ordering a car and how much to pay for a new car.
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