Does The Dealer Have To Honor The Price On A Car You Ordered?

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If you have the patience to wait for it, it’s great to order a car from the factory exactly the way you want it. Often you can still score just as good of a deal on an ordered car instead of buying off the lot. But if your order gets changed, here is how the dealer is likely to handle it.

Normally, factory-ordered cars go pretty smoothly. Of course, you’ll want to establish the price of your car before you place your order, not after the car arrives. However, sometimes orders get changed either due to an error at the dealer level or a situation at the factory when it comes to certain allocations and equipment options.


I’ve received a surprising number of emails recently from folks who have had some hiccups with their order, like this one:

“I just placed an order for a car at my local dealership, they said the sale price on the Premium trim would be about $26,000. But when I got home I noticed on the paperwork that it said Limited instead of Premium, this is a more expensive car do they still have to honor the $26,000 sale price?”


So the first thing this person should know is that if the order was only placed a few days ago that is an error that can be fixed if you catch it in time. Usually, there is a window of time to alter an order before it is “locked in” at the factory level. So the buyer needs to call the dealer ASAP to make the correction if they don’t want the more expensive car.

In this case, if the correction is not made and the Limited trim car is placed, the dealer is unlikely to honor the $26,000 price on a car that retails for several thousand more. What they should do is honor the same “deal” or discount. So if they offered a certain amount off the sticker price or a certain amount under the invoice, that would be scaled up to reflect the more expensive trim.


In the case of some luxury cars, sometimes the factory will change the order spec due to the availability of certain options and packages which may increase the overall cost of the car.

Here’s another case I got:

“I was told that I could no longer get the heated steering wheel on my Mercedes as a stand-alone option and I needed to get an additional package that will raise the price by several grand. What should the dealer do for me?”


Unlike the previous scenario this one is outside of the dealer’s control, but again if you, the buyer, are stuck with a more expensive car, the dealer should honor the same deal structure. For example, if they offered you $5,000 off a $70,000 car they should offer the same $5,000 off the $73,000 car. Of course, if that solution isn’t satisfactory to you, the dealer will likely refund your deposit and you can walk away.

The key thing to remember is that just because a dealer says they can get you a certain car from the factory, that may not always be the case due to allocations and configuration options. If the order doesn’t go according to plan, you may not get the same price but you should get the same “deal.”