One of the best-kept secrets of car buying is that most dealerships will deliver your new car to you at your home or office. This helps you avoid what could be hours of waiting at a dealership.

How do you arrange in-home delivery? Just ask.

Why Not Lessen Your Stress?

Of course, you need to make the request before you agree to buy the car. When you are negotiating by phone or e-mail (as we strongly suggest), say something like, "Well, your price is reasonable, but I can't get down there to pick it up until the weekend. If you'd be willing to deliver the car, I'll buy it now."

If the dealership is nearby, the salesman might jump at the chance to ink a new deal. In some rare cases, where the car has to travel a longer distance — 50 miles or so — the dealership might charge you a nominal delivery fee of about $75. Still, it is probably worthwhile to pay that, as we'll explain.

This insider tip is actually just the final step of an Internet car shopping process that's described in more detail in "8 Steps to Buying a New Car." This modern car-buying method involves shopping through the dealer's Internet department and completing all the other steps — except for the test-drive — by phone or e-mail.

Here's How It Works

Now that you understand the big picture, here's how the delivery step of this car-buying process works. Your salesperson will drive the new car to you and bring the sales documents for signing. When the salesman arrives, verify that the car is the year, make and model you chose, and that it has the agreed-upon equipment. Be sure that it is in new condition (even new cars can suffer scratches or dings during shipping). Check to make sure it doesn't have more than about 100 miles on the odometer (from test-drives and the delivery).

After you sign the sales documents, the salesman will get a ride back to the dealership with an assistant who has come along in a second car.

You can use the home-delivery option even if you are financing the car purchase and trading in your old car. For financing, fax or e-mail your credit application to the dealer and work out the details over the phone. When you're trading in a car, the salesperson will take information about your vehicle, including its current mileage and condition level, and make you an offer by phone. When the salesman arrives to drop off your new car, he will inspect your used car before you conclude the deal. Alternately, you might choose to handle the trade-in separately to maximize the value of your used vehicle.

Wrap It Up

The total time for an in-home car delivery is about 20 minutes. If you choose to take delivery at a dealership, just the delivery portion of the process can easily be three hours or more — although our story, How to Speed Up Car-Buying Paperwork can make it go more quickly. It can take an hour or more just to get into the finance office, particularly on the weekends. Once inside, the finance manager may try to sell you extended warranties and other products and services that could cost you thousands of dollars. His presentation, and signing the documents, can easily take another hour.

Home delivery helps you avoid the wait, the frustration and the hard sell at the dealership. Use this best-kept car-buying secret with your next purchase and you're likely to become one of the many shoppers who have told us: "I never knew it could be this easy."