How Do I Have a Dealer Locate a Car From a Different Dealer?

by Shanan MillerUpdated May 30, 2018
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If a dealership does not have a vehicle that you want, you can ask if they can do a "dealer locate," or purchase the vehicle from another dealer to sell to you. This is common practice with new car dealers, and the option is usually offered to the buyer if the dealer locate is possible. It is very uncommon that a dealer can locate a used car from another dealer--although large auto groups may be able to accomplish this. Find the vehicle you want and work with a dealer that you prefer.

Know the car you want to buy and where to buy it. Research the vehicle at the manufacturer's website. If there is a vehicle that you are interested in, use the manufacturer's website tools to build a virtual model, choosing your options, packages and color combinations.

Take a printout of the virtual model to the dealership. If you already know which car you want, just visit the dealership while it is open or call to make an appointment. Test drive your vehicle before deciding on the dealer locate.

Ask the representative to find you a car to drive that is as close to the one that you want to purchase, and show her the printout. Have all features explained to you before the test drive and ask what the differences are between the car you want and the car you're driving. Drive the vehicle and make sure it is to your satisfaction.

Ask the dealer representative if he can get the car you want. You may find out that one is coming in from the factory in the near future. If the representative assures you he can get the vehicle, proceed with the paperwork. It is imperative that you discuss your time-frame before agreeing to anything since a dealer locate can take weeks, if not a few days.

Ask the dealer representative about distance. Ask her how far she will be going to get the located vehicle. Inspect mileage on the odometer, as someone most likely had to drive to get it. Find out how many miles are already on the vehicle. Someone from the dealer will have to call. Let the representative know that you are ready to make the deal and will leave a deposit until the vehicle arrives.

Give a deposit to the dealer. For a locate, this amount is usually in the thousands. Keep in mind that the dealer will most likely have to swap one of his own cars out or pay outright--the dealer cost--because you intend to buy the vehicle.

Wait for your vehicle to arrive. Once the vehicle has been picked up, your representative will schedule an appointment for you to come in to see the vehicle and complete any necessary loan or Department of Motor Vehicles paperwork.


Your dealership may need time to locate your vehicle. You can leave a deposit for the dealer. If the vehicle can't be found, you should receive your money back.

If your vehicle can't be located, try to change some of your options. Unfortunately, if you are shopping at the end of the model year, you may have to compromise. Otherwise, you can wait for the new model year vehicles to arrive.


Do not call around to different same-make dealerships to find out if the vehicle is in stock. You can hurt your dealer's chances of getting the vehicle--the dealer that has the car may not want to give it up if there is an interested buyer.

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