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 at-home delivery? Just ask.

Lessen Your Stress

For maximum effectiveness, make the request before you agree to buy the car. When you are negotiating by phone or email (which Edmunds strongly suggests), 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 salesperson might jump at the chance to close 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 you'll see.

Here's How It Works

If the dealership says yes to home delivery, the salesperson, followed by an assistant in another car, will drive your new vehicle to you and bring the sales documents for signing. When the salesperson 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.

You can use the home-delivery option even if you are financing the car purchase and trading in your old car. For financing, do your credit application online, if the dealership has that option. You also can email it and work out the deal terms 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 sales rep arrives to drop off your new car, there will be an inspection of your used car before you conclude the deal. Alternately, you might choose to separate the trade-in process from the purchase to maximize the value of your used vehicle.

Not All Dealers Do It

While many dealerships will deliver, not all are willing to do so. Some dealers believe that doing the deal outside the store may cost them money in the long run. Home delivery also may run counter to dealership policies and practices. And because car dealers rarely make profits on the car sale alone, they want opportunities to extend the business relationship — at the dealership.

Turning a new-car shopper into a long-term service department customer is a very common goal for new-car dealers, and many believe that if they don't introduce the customer to the service department at some point in the new-car purchase process, the prospect of that customer coming to the service department drops. Some dealers also believe that by not bringing the shopper into the brick-and-mortar showroom, they lose the chance to make some money in the finance and insurance office.

Perhaps the most important reason that not all dealerships bring the car to shoppers is this: Off-site deliveries may not bring the repeat and referral business in the same way that a fantastic dealership visit might. Dealerships are creating processes to improve the in-person purchase experience. They are pouring money into new showrooms and revamping in-store sales methods to gain buyer trust and loyalty. Some dealers believe that when an entire car deal is done in a car shopper's living room, the customer will simply become loyal to the convenience of the off-site sale and not necessarily to the salesperson or car dealership that provided the service. You might not agree with these dealership arguments, but there they are. You have some cards to play, however.

Tips for Success

Be flexible: Don't expect a dealership to deliver a vehicle to you during peak business hours. It takes more than one person at a dealership to complete a deal. The salesperson, sales manager and finance manager all will be involved. It will also require an additional store employee to drive the salesperson back to the dealership. Getting a personal delivery on a busy weekend is less likely to happen than getting one during a slow time at the dealership, such as a Tuesday morning. If you can be flexible with your delivery timing, chances are much greater that the dealer can come to you.

Tell the dealership what's in it for them: Maybe you're not willing to make the deal contingent on delivery — perhaps it feels too confrontational to you. No problem. Instead, as you negotiate the deal, explain to the salesperson or manager with whom you're working that an at-home delivery would increase the chances of you doing business with them. If bringing you the car and paperwork would make you happy enough to refer the salesperson (and dealership) to your friends and family, be sure to tell the dealer that. If providing you with an off-site delivery would assure the salesperson a perfect customer satisfaction survey score, tell her so. In other words, do something to encourage the salesperson to come to you. Would you use the service department at the dealership? If so, be sure to mention that, too.

Be nice: Since an off-site delivery requires extra work, a salesperson will be more inclined to do it for a polite, friendly customer rather than one who barks orders and demands. The salesperson will need management's help and permission to do an off-site deal if such deals aren't standard procedure. Your salesperson won't go through all that for a customer who has been a jerk. He's more likely to say, "Sorry, we don't do that here." Being nice really can pay off.