Dealing with new car delays - and how to take control

Been waiting weeks for a new car or a part? It can be very frustrating, but our guide can help you to take control of the situation...

Dealing with new car delays - and how to take control

Delays cause headaches and financial stress. They leave owners frustrated and potentially without transport. So, whether your dealership is struggling to track down a replacement windscreen or your new car hasn’t turned up, here’s what you can do to improve the situation.

The elusive delivery date

Who doesn’t enjoy shopping for a new car? You’ve spent hours on websites, specced up your dream model and you’ve placed the order with the dealer, who has given you a delivery date. That date has been and gone, though, and your enthusiasm is waning. Where’s your new car?

Contacting the dealership can prove an exasperating process, with ‘just a couple of weeks’ becoming a phrase you’ll hear over and over again. You’re left in a difficult position – the dealer has your deposit and your current car keeps losing value as time goes by and miles pile on. Worse, you may be without transport altogether, having sold your old car in anticipation of the new one’s arrival.

We’ve heard from many readers who have been left waiting with little or no communication from the dealer. We’ve also heard from those who have waited so long that they’ve managed to get their deposit back and taken their money elsewhere.

The situation is frustrating for dealers, too. They’re powerless over the time it takes for your car to be built and, perhaps surprisingly, can be kept as much in the dark as you by the manufacturer.

What causes new car delays?

There are a number of reasons:

  • As cars get more and more complicated and more parts come from farther afield, one late shipment could cause a knock-on effect down the line, delaying your car from rolling out of the factory.
  • Sometimes manufacturers can underestimate the demand for a new model and will over-promise and end up under-delivering.
  • Human error can also play a part. We’ve heard from readers who have been told that their cars are on the way, only to later discover that the dealer never placed the order. We’ve also been told about dealers who have placed the order but with the wrong specification, so when the car finally arrives it isn’t what was specified, pushing the buyer to the back of the queue for a replacement.

How to avoid losing out if your new car is delayed

You don’t really want to think about what could go wrong when ordering your new car, but covering all the bases at this point will help if things go wrong later on.

When you order your car, make sure you get a delivery date in writing. It’s likely it will be an estimate, but it’s important to have it so you can negotiate your position. Once you’ve been given a date, you need to find out what will happen should there be a delay.

If you’re trading in a car as part exchange, make sure that you get the dealer to agree to the price it’ll pay regardless of the delivery date.

Get that in writing, too, because you don’t want to have the added disappointment of being out of pocket. If the dealer won’t agree to this, it’s a sign that it doesn’t have faith in the delivery date; we’d suggest you go to another dealer who will agree to your request.

Dealing with new car delays - and how to take control

If you’re not trading in a car, get the dealer to agree – again, in writing – to a loan vehicle to cover the extra time between the estimated delivery date and the actual arrival of your car. If they won’t agree to this take it as another warning sign. The next thing to get agreement of in writing is that should the price of the car you’ve chosen go up during the delay period, you won’t pay an extra penny for it.

Our last bit of advice is to follow up with the dealer a few days after the order is meant to have been placed and ask for a copy of any paperwork to limit the chances of human error causing a longer lead time for your new car. It’ll give you peace of mind over the coming weeks.

What to do if your car is delayed

So, you’ve just found out that your car is going to be delayed. After speaking to the dealer to get an updated delivery date, you need to speak to the car company’s customer services department. It will be in a better position to tell you the reason for the delay and whether this new date is likely to be honoured; it’ll also be able to offer a goodwill gesture.

You’ll need to remain in close contact with the car dealership, too, because the contract for the car is between you and the dealership.

Missing or delayed parts

You can also fall foul of frustrating delays if you need a vital spare part for your car. Spare parts may be out of stock, which could keep your car off the road for weeks or even months while the parts are sourced.

Our readers have told us of their frustration at being unable to drive for weeks because of supply chain delays. One unlucky reader’s new car got a crack in its windscreen just a few weeks after he’d taken delivery of it. The model was so new that replacement parts were hard to source and neither the dealer nor third party suppliers could track down this new piece of glass.

What to do if this happens

After you’ve spoken to the dealer and customer services and you have been told that they can’t track any parts down, the next call you need to make is to Motor Codes.

Motor Codes is the motor industry’s consumer watchdog. It’s the best place to turn to in this situation because it has set up a number of codes of practice that most car manufacturers subscribe to.

The relevant code for this issue is the New Car Code. Almost every major manufacturer that sells cars in the UK has signed up to the code – MG Motor is the only notable absentee. The code stipulates that manufacturers will have enough spare parts that are of a suitable standard to keep your new car on the road.

Call Motor Codes on 0843 910 9000 or submit details of the problem via and it will look into the issue for you.

What to do if your car isn’t covered by the Code

It’s still important that you open a case with the car maker’s customer service department. It’s in the best position to know about lead times on parts and any supply chain issues.

We’d then recommend calling third-party suppliers yourself. They could have the necessary part in stock and, even if they don’t, they may be able to offer you another suitable part that would do the job.

Before having any work done, it’s vital that you contact customer services again and get it in writing that using a third party part won’t invalidate any warranty you may have left on the car. Explain that you need to get your car back on the road and that you can’t wait for an official part to be tracked down.

If customer services refuses to help, or can’t guarantee the warranty, request a loan car to keep you mobile while waiting for the part to arrive.

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