Automakers’ websites make it all seem so simple. You click the “build and price” tab and equip your imaginary car just the way you want it. Your engine, your transmission, your wheels and tires, your exterior color, your seat fabric, your choice of infotainment system-you name it, you can generally specify it. But as wonderful as that sounds, configuring and ordering a new car instead of buying a car your dealer has in stock can lead to frustration. It could be worth the effort, but then again, maybe not.
These are the pros and cons of configuring and ordering a car:
Pros of Ordering a Car
1. You choose the car you want, equipped as you want it. As a car person, you probably play the game of “spec the car” all the time. You can select the engine, transmission, tires, and wheels. Check it out in (colorful adjective) red with black (exotic-sounding) leather seats. Choose the (high-end audio name) entertainment system that will envelop you in your own personal soundtrack as you navigate country roads. If you configure and order your car, you can decide a lot about the car you are going to get.
2. You can get the thrill of seeing something you customized digitally get built into a complex physical machine. For the right person, this is an experience nearly as memorable as being there for the birth of your child. You can pick everything from the color of the roof to the nap of the carpeting in the trunk on many cars. It is your automotive artist’s impression come to life.
1. It can take a long time. It will likely take six to eight weeks for a domestic car to be built to your specifications and delivered to your dealer. With an import, you can throw in the time to cross an ocean and transportation from the port, meaning it could take a few months.
2. You might not get exactly what you ordered. Because the car business is so complex, often there are disconnects between what a manufacturer website says is available and what is really available. More often than you’d guess, a carmaker will announce an option or feature only to find out that the supplier can’t build the parts, pieces, or systems fast enough. For example, a carmaker may have anticipated only 20 percent of its buyers would want the V-6 engine, but in the two years since that decision was made, gasoline got cheaper, so now 40 percent of dealer orders are for cars with the V-6. Multiply that possibility by the number of major systems on a typical car, and you can see the potential for problems.
3. In most states, the only entity that can sell you a new car is a licensed new-car dealer. So you have to buy from a dealer even if you order the car “from the factory.” Since the dealership has no investment in that to-be-built car, it might be less likely to discount the price. The salesperson faces the potential hassle of taking you on a laborious and lengthy passage through the options list. When that’s done, the dealer still can’t be certain the vehicle you specify will be built. That doesn’t sound like the recipe for a great discount deal, does it?
Now, we’re not saying don’t configure and order your next car, but if you do, keep the aforementioned points in mind. In the interest of equal time, here are the pros and cons of buying a car from a local dealer’s inventory.
Pros of Buying from Dealer Stock
1. You can easily find what you want online. These days, most dealers put their inventories on the internet, so you can access the information on your personal computer, tablet, or smartphone. Rather than go through the laborious and lengthy process of ordering a car through a dealer and waiting weeks for it to be delivered, you can uncover a very close approximation of that car by a relatively simple search of local dealer websites.
“We as dealers make certain our websites are robust and easy to use for the customer,” Ray Scarpelli, president of Ray Chevrolet and other suburban Chicago dealerships, told C/D. “We make sure we have a good presence for the customer to see, because that’s how the business is done these days.”
2. You can see the car “in the flesh.” Once you’ve located the vehicle that is your prospective choice, it is there for your inspection. You can see the car, smell it, crawl around in it. You can play with the buttons and knobs, adjust the driver’s seat and the mirrors, and listen to the sound system of the exact car you are going to buy. You don’t have to guess or hope. And you can drive the car before you buy it.
3. The dealer is motivated to sell cars in inventory. The dealer has a monetary investment in the cars, trucks, and vans that are already on the lot, having either paid for or financed them. The sooner they’re sold, the better off the dealership will be. “We’re paying interest on the car sitting on the ground,” said John Hennessy, owner of River View Ford in Oswego, Illinois. “So I’d rather relieve that interest and put a lot more money into that trade and help you get into the car.”
1. You might not get exactly the car you want in the color you want with the equipment you want. If you are seeking your perfect dream car with exterior paint that matches your eyes and interior leather that is softer than a tub of whipped butter on an 80-degree day, you are probably better off ordering a car than trying to find it in dealer stock. Even if the car you seek might not have been built yet, there is a thrill to the hunt.
2. Ordering can head off an impulse buy. If you are the type who goes out for coffee on a Saturday morning and comes home with a rescued puppy or a third husband, you might be better off ordering a car. If buyer’s remorse sets in, it’s easier to cancel a new order than to cancel the new car already sitting in your driveway.
- How to Make a Satisfying Car Purchase in an Hour
- Online Car Sales Pit Dealers Against the Middleman
- Is CPO the Way to Go? 10 Questions to Ask
So, now that you know the pros and cons of ordering from a manufacturer versus plucking from dealer inventory, you should have an idea of what the car-buying road is like ahead. Maybe you already know what kind of car you want. That’s half the trip.
You Might Also Like