Special Ordering a New Tundra – The Skinny

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Special order a new Toyota? You can't always have it your way.Here’s the deal with “special ordering” a new Toyota. Technically, it’s possible. Realistically, it’s often too much trouble to bother with.

Toyota, unlike domestic manufacturers, doesn’t build trucks to a dealer’s spec. Instead, before one vehicle is built, Toyota determines the number of red ones, the number of 4×4’s, the number of limiteds, etc. that they’re going to build. As the trucks are produced and sold, Toyota may (or may not) tweak their pre-determined production numbers based on sales rates and commodity availability. Witness the beginning of the 07′ model year — Toyota was producing quite a few regular cab Tundras in a “fleet” configuration because they anticipated a lot of fleet sales. Unfortunately, the demand for reg cabs was low, so Toyota’s first incentive was $1,000 on all regular cab Tundras.

In short, Toyota doesn’t build trucks based on orders. They build trucks based on what they want to build. It’s not a bad system — it’s been working for them for decades — it’s just not the way the “big 3″ do it.

To continue the story…A Toyota dealer gets a build list from Toyota that tells them what trucks they’ll be getting in the next two or three months. If the dealer wants to “order” a truck, they make a special request. Depending upon Toyota’s pre-determined mix, the truck might be built right away, might be built if a certain commodity is in excess, or it might not ever be built. If Toyota has determined the configuration being requested isn’t something they’re willing to build, the order will go unfulfilled. Hence, the term “special order” isn’t really applicable to a Toyota. It’s more accurate to describe it as a “please make this request.”

SO, when a dealer says they’re taking your order for a new Toyota, what they’re ACTUALLY saying is that they’re going to keep an eye open for an inbound truck that matches your specs and try and fill your order that way. They’ll also “preference” an order for your truck, but that may be a meaningless gesture (as explained above). Don’t get us wrong — that’s not a slam on dealers. They’re doing the best they can with the system they have. It’s just not what people think it is.

A lot of people find that when they discuss ordering a new car with a Toyota salesperson, the salesperson seems to be uninterested. The reason salespeople walk away when a person mentions “special order” is that it can take 2-6 months for that unit to come in. Most salespeople have an attention span that is measured in minutes, not months, so they’re not interested in working hard for a deal that might not happen for a few months (if it ever happens).

So what does it all mean? Basically, if you want to order a Tundra, make sure you’re asking for something that’s “normal.” If you want a truck that’s dramatically different than every truck you’re seeing on your local car lot, your chances of getting what you want are pretty slim.

Filed Under: Buying a Tundra

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  1. AW says:

    I placed a very specific order for a 2007 at the end of September, I knew it might get bumped to a 2008. It did and the dealer re-placed the order for the 2008, still with the exact options that I wanted.

    Estimated wait time was 5-10 weeks. One month later I took delivery of my 2008 Double Cab SR5. Navigation, TRD Package, Step Rails, Floor Mats, Auto-dimming Mirror, and the color that I picked. An SR5 with Navigation is rare. You won’t see those on dealer lots too often.

    I had to make zero compromises and the dealer was excellent to work with. I’m not saying that your post is wrong, but I did not experience anything close to what you are saying and my order was not close to any standard factory builds. Price was not even a factor, I still negotiated 2% over dealer invoice for the truck.

  2. admin says:

    Excellent! Toyota is working hard to provide unique orders on the new Tundra. However, if you search some of the Tundra forums out their you’ll still find stories about orders going unfulfilled.

    Thanks for commenting.

  3. ERNIE says:

    I ORDER A 07 TUNDR DOUBLE CAB TRD. I WANTED THE SPLIT BENCH. I WAS TOLD THAT THE TRD ONLY COME WITH BUCKET SEATS.MY SALESMAN TOOK THE TIME TO FIND OUT IF A TRD COULD BE ORDERED WITH THE BENCH SEAT. AFTER A FEW MINUTES HE CAME BACK AND TOLD ME THAT IT COULD BE SPECIAL ORDERED AND IT COULD TAKE 90-120DAYS TO COME IN. ABOUT 65 DAYS LATER MY TRUCK CAME IN .MY SALESMAN TOLD ME ITS THE ONLY TUDRA IN THE AREA WITH A BENCH SEAT THAT HE KNOWS OF INFACT IT MIGHT BE THE ONLY ONE IN STATE. SO YOU CAN GET WHAT YOU WANT IF YOUR WILLING TO WAIT FOR IT

  4. Mark T. says:

    In about a week I’ll be placing an order for a Tundra. I’m being told 4-6 months, but I’m not in a hurry. And like the article mentions, I’ve found some dealers that really aren’t interested in this type of transaction due to the long lead time. Heck, they may not even be at the dealership that long.

    The reason for my build is that I want the navigation in a crewmax LTD, but without the sunroof and without the TRD package. The problem is that in the midwest region all crewmax LTD’s come in with sunroofs. I looked at Iowa’s inventory, and they have sunroof as an option, however if you want nav, you will also get the sunroof.

    I’m tall (6-6), and I bump my head into the side of the sunroof opening. I test drove one w/o the sunroof (no nav) and I was fine. I thought about aftermarket nav, since I install them on the side, but I like how Toyota’s backup camera is integrated to the nav and the bluetooth functionalily. The 440 watt stereo isn’t bad either.

    All the option packages Toyota introduces make it a PITA to find the Toyota you really want. Honda/Acura have a better model IMO.

  5. [...] Ah, my dealer was correct. (I knew that guy looked smarter than me… ) So Tundras are produced in allocations. Can you really special order a new Tundra? | tundraheadquarters.com [...]

  6. Bob Gaudet says:

    I would like to share your enthieusiasm on this topic, and absolutely love my 09 Tundra SR5 Reg/Long, but as will ALL auto makers, and I mean ALL of them build cars with one wiring harness that has all the bells and whistles.

    The only difference in the vehicles is what is installed and actually hooked up in the vehicles. Mine doesn’t have driving lamps, but the wiring is hanging behind the bumper for them. I have ALL the connectors there and waiting for options that I don’t have, or wish to purchase later and the dealers DO charge you a premium price with the impression that you “THINK ” they are re-wiring your vehicle when truth be told, It’s all “Plug and Play” with a few minor exeptions.

    It’s easier and cheaper to just install ONE wiring harness in all ranges of the same model than to custom make one for every style of vehicle.

    I think it’s awsome that Toyota has all the wires run for me and all I have to do is Plug and Play now. (I want driving lights), I just won’t pay $1200.00 for a set of lights from the dealer. Hell,, THEY told me to go to aftermarket cause it was cheaper….. lol

    Anyway,, back to the topic,,, If a dealer “orders” just what you wanted,, most likely, they found a similar one somewhere and just ADDED the unique stuff you wanted in the bay out back before tellin you it was in.

    Either way,, that’s just some factual info for you. Regardless, I LOVE MY TUNDRA!!!!!!!!!!!!….

    Cheers

  7. Dick says:

    Is it possible to pick up a tundra at the factory after making the deal with the dealer?
    Thanks in advance

  8. Dick – No – there are no programs for ordering and pickup at the factory. As far as I know, only Chevy offers that with the Corvette in the US. I also believe you can pickup a Porsche at the factory, and it wouldn’t shock me if that option was available to all Ferrari, Lambo, Bentley, and other high-end car buyers.

  9. [...] ordering a Tundra isn't really possible. Can you really special order a new Tundra? | Tundra Headquarters __________________ 07' SR5 DC, 5.7, TRD Toyota SS steps ARE MX cap AMP bed step DIY underseat [...]

  10. AC says:

    Found a Tundra on the Southeast Toyota website scheduled to be built 05/30 and found out from an area Toyota dealership where the vehicle was scheduled to be delivered. I have been in contact with the receiving dealer and they claim that the VIN posted for the Tundra on the SET website has changed since the vehicle is either in production or has been built. Specifically, the point of contact is claiming the vehicle starts out with an “interim VIN” and after the vehicle is produced, the VIN is changed to a permanent VIN number. We have requested quotes for pricing based on the initial VIN but have received quotes with the “other” VIN instead; our suspicions lead us to believe they want to sell us a different vehicle. ???

    • Tim Esterdahl says:

      AC,

      Toyota uses a serious of distributors for their trucks in the US. Quite often, these distributors request certain models and configurations for their area based on sales volume. While you found a VIN for a vehicle in production that vehicle will have an updated configuration based on the distributors requirements and thus a new VIN.

      Here is an article that explains more: Toyota’s Distributors – Do They Cost You?

      -Tim

  11. Eric says:

    AC,

    I ordered a 2014 Tundra limited 4×4 w/trd package in October 2013. The vehicle was ordered from the Toyota Factory. Still don’t have the truck. Have a VIN number but it sits at the port (allegedly) due to the seat heater issue. Going on 6 months. If I really didn’t love this truck I will tell Toyota to shove thier business. They are not customer service oriented at all.

  12. Greg says:

    I have ordered a 2014 Tundra CM built specifically the way I want it. My dealer actually recommended I do it that way. I have the VIN and the build date was yesterday 6/30/14 with an ETA of 7/19. I was dealing with another dealer a few weeks ago and they didn’t even mention ordering one the exact way I want it so either they aren’t big enough, or they just wanted an immediate sale. I’m going through Longo Toyota in El Monte, California which according to themselves is supposedly the number one Toyota dealer in the country. I don’t know about that, but they have a Subway and Starbucks at the dealership! Crazy!

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