Secrets to Car Buying: Using the Automotive Inventory to Your Favor

In any given year, Americans buy around 17 million new vehicles between car and light truck sales. Buying a new car is typically a big deal for most people. They imagine walking onto a lot with their dream car in mind and driving home with it that day.

Unfortunately, the dream and the reality often fail to meet up on the lot. Why? It’s a matter of automotive inventory.

The good news is that you can use automotive inventory to your advantage when you need a new car.

What Is Automotive Inventory?

Automotive inventory doesn’t mean what the dealership can get you. Dealerships can generally order you the car you want or get it from another dealer. In those cases, though, expect a long wait or big price hike.

In essence, automotive inventory means the vehicles that a dealership literally has on the lot. This inventory typically reflects recent buying numbers, such as model, color, and trim package.

How to Use the Inventory to Your Advantage

If you need a new car and aren’t too set on specific bells and whistles, you can use some negotiation skills to get vehicle prices down. Let’s say that you wanted a brand new 2021 Ford Mustang Mach 1, but you’re not particular about color. If you do a little research, you may discover that a given color doesn’t sell well in your area.

Let’s say you go to the dealership supposedly looking for a Mach 1 in that poorly-selling color. There is a good chance you can talk down the price on the same model in another color by expressing your dissatisfaction that you can’t drive off the lot today.


Another thing you must keep in mind is what dealerships run in your area. Most new car dealerships operate as franchises that always sell vehicles from a single manufacturer. For example, a dealership may stock only Ford or Chevy vehicles.

In some cases, a dealership may only sell one brand from a manufacture. For a good example of a single brand dealership, view here. Of course, one business often owns several brand-specific dealerships which expands the available stock.

This is one place where you need to do your research. If you live in decently sized city, you can probably find a dealership for any vehicle you want. If you live in rural area, you might find your dealership and vehicle inventory options more limited in the area.

Automotive Inventory and Your Next New Car

Since no lot can carry every version of every model of car that a manufacturer sells, their automotive inventory will have holes. Those holes stem from sales numbers. With some research, you can probably find out what versions of what models don’t sell especially well in your area.

You can take that information and use it to help you secure a better deal on a similar model you’ll like just as well.

Looking for more tips on buying new or used cars? Check out some of our auto buying advice articles in our Lifestyle section.

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