How to buy a car from the factory and save money

More shoppers are ordering cars from the factory because of the short supply at the dealership.

You get exactly what you want in return for a few weeks or months. You are likely to save money in the current market.

In Europe, the method of finding a car and driving it off the same day is called build-to-order, and it is used by electric carmakers such as Rivian. Building-to-order is having a moment in the U.S. because of supply chain delays.

Buyers can order popular models online and have them delivered to their house. The company says it took 74,000 new vehicle retail orders in November, an increase of 64,000 over the previous November.

Special orders are popular at most dealerships.

Matt Jones is the director of corporate marketing for TrueCar. People want to get what they want, not what is available.

Don't get fleeced in this auto market, there are 5 mistakes to avoid.

Is it cheaper to build-to-order? It can be.

Ron Montoya is a senior consumer advice editor and content strategist for car research site Edmunds.

A local dealer offered a car for $3,000 more than the sticker price to Montoya's aunt, who was shopping for a new car. She asked the dealer to order one from the factory and pay the sticker price. The price of a sticker is a good price these days.

If your car is totaled, what should you do?

The current market is brutal. Casual shoppers are competing with drivers who have lost a car. Some buyers are using inflated trade-in prices to offset the cost of a new ride.

A factory order allows both buyers and sellers to take a deep breath.

A special order is a sure sale for a dealer, and it is not a risk to find your ideal car elsewhere.

For the consumer, build-to-order gives them time to think. Kelley Blue Book says ordering a custom-made vehicle is a smart life hack because it cuts you out of the emotional process of seeing a car.

How to place an order.

If you have the luxury of waiting for delivery, here is how to navigate the build-to-order process.

Shoppers can either order a vehicle or both.

If you want to submit your order through an assigned dealer, you should use the manufacturer's website. The MSRP is not guaranteed. The dealer handles negotiations.
You can order directly with the dealer of your choice.

The dealer will give you the details before you sign.

The ordering system should be able to give you an estimate, even though the dealer can't give you an exact delivery date. If the delivery date is too far out, consider going somewhere else.

Clarify the points of no return. You might change your mind about the color or options a few months before delivery. You can back out completely by a certain date.

The deposit is usually $500 to $1,000. Jones says that many dealers don't cash the check or run the credit card number since the deposit is just to prove the customer has glue in the game. If you decide to back out, ask what happens to your deposit.

Ask about the documentation you will receive after placing your order. The build order sheet is usually a list of the model, price and delivery date.

If you agree on the price, ask the paperwork you receive to reflect it. It should include the price of the car, any dealer-installed extras that you agree on, taxes, title and license. When the vehicle arrives, ask if this is the amount you will pay. Jones says that incentives are rare these days, but that they are reflected in the price and what happens if they change.

Your vehicle arrives.

Track your car before it lands at the dealership and follow up with the salesperson. You will get a delivery date.

Find a preapproved car loan. You will have a rate for the dealership to try to beat and avoid surprises with your credit.

A dealership won't give you a trade-in price until you sign papers on your new car. You can get quotes from internet retailers such as Carvana if you are considering trading in.

It doesn't hurt to check the manufacturer's website or ask your sales representative if there are new incentives available.

There are 10 top cars of the year.

When your new car arrives.

If you get a call from the dealership, ask if the car will be marked as sold and how long the dealer will hold it. As soon as you can, grab it.

Look over the car to make sure it matches what you ordered and that it hasn't been damaged in transit.

Ask the dealer to appraise your old vehicle and show you any competing offers. The sales tax savings of trading may be significant.

If the price isn't honored, ask why. The dealer isn't obliged to honor the old ones if you buy a vehicle on new terms. You can either walk or decide the deal isn't worth the hassle of scrapping and starting over again.

5 ways to get a bigger tax refund.

NerdWallet has more.

Philip Reed is a writer. You can email The person is on the social networking site, "@AutoReed."