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GuideNew Cars

How to Locate the Exact Car You Want

When buying a new car, many people assume they can easily find the color and option combinations they desire.

Unfortunately, this is not the case with most new cars - especially with ones that are in high demand.

When you start shopping around, you will quickly realize a little compromise is needed. The reason is because most cars come in a wide variety of colors and options and there's no way dealers can stock every combination.

Some brands such as Honda keep things simple and don't offer many additional options, so it's a bit easier finding what you're looking for. And electric vehicle brands like Tesla and Rivian let you configure and buy their vehicles online, making it a breeze to get exactly what you're looking for. But for other brands, there are literally thousands of different configurations and option combinations to choose from.

So what should you do if you're having problems locating a car with the options and colors you desire? First, you'll need to expand your search to include dealerships further away from you. If you're willing to drive 150 miles or further, you'll have way more inventory to choose from. You may even want to consider getting the vehicle shipped to you, or make a mini-vacation by getting a one-way plane ticket and driving back with your new car.

Cars.com, CarGurus and AutoTrader.com are the best sources to search for new car inventory, but keep in mind they don't list EVERY single vehicle that is potentially out there, so don't be discouraged if you can't find the car you're looking for. New vehicles are delivered constantly so sometimes all it takes is a bit of patience.

If the vehicle is in high demand, you may have to wait several weeks until supplies are more plentiful. If a dealer you're calling doesn't have anything in stock, most are willing to do a dealer locate for you. This is where they tap into their database of vehicles within their entire sales region. All dealers have access to this type of inventory search - which includes cars that are currently in transport from the manufacturer as well as inventory at competing dealer lots.

Most dealers are willing to do a dealer trade to get you the vehicle you desire. This is where they will trade a vehicle in their inventory for one from a competing dealership. Keep in mind that if the car is in very high demand, the dealer may not be able to do a dealer trade - but at least you will know if the color and option combination you desire is available within your area. (I actually don't recommend doing a dealer trade - it's much better to buy a vehicle that's in stock).

Another option you can look into is ordering a car directly from the factory. There are some drawbacks, but if you really want a specific configuration, this is probably your best option.

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  • Best Rebates, Incentives, and Lease Deals
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  • The Best & Worst Time to Buy a Car
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About The Author

Gregg Fidan Gregg Fidan is the founder of RealCarTips. After being ripped off on his first car purchase, he devoted several years to figuring out the best ways to avoid scams and negotiate the best car deals. He has written hundreds of articles on the subject of car buying and taught thousands of car shoppers how to get the best deals.
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