How long will it take for my car to be delivered?

What factors affect delivery time?

So, you’ve ordered your car, now you just have to wait for it to be delivered. The thing is, your vehicle supplier hasn’t actually given you a specific date. We understand that this can be frustrating, you’ve bought something and now you want to know exactly when it will be in your possession; it’s fair enough.

Maybe you have to plan the sale of your current car, or perhaps your existing vehicle may be due to be handed back. Whatever your reasons, it is understandable that you want to have a clear understanding of timeframes.

At OSV, we’ve had years of experience working with all manufacturers and we understand the complexities and difficulties that can cause delays. Therefore, we have written this article to help you to fully understand how long your car might take to show up, which will enable you to be fully educated and put the right plans in place.

Signing for a car

What could affect the delivery time-frame of my new vehicle?

Your car will go through a number of steps before it’s delivered to you. While we won’t be going into all of them, the process is, essentially, as follows:

  • Build allocation
  • In production
  • Transit to the port of exit
  • Pre-delivery inspection and paperwork
  • Finance agreements and delivery

So, with all the steps mentioned above, you can understand why your vehicle supplier can’t give you a specific date for delivery. There are so many factors that affect the delivery process, such as:

  • The factory
  • Location
  • Shipping
  • Finance agreements
  • Driver availability

We have gone through this process an infinite amount of times so we know exactly what sort of variables affect the delivery time. In this article we will give you an insight into the delivery process, and what affects the delivery time of your vehicle.

Time-frame of factory order vehicles

What happens at the factory plays a huge part in how long it will take for your car to be delivered. The timeframe for factory orders can vary considerably and is based on a number of factors such as:

  • The volume of orders
  • Factory closures
  • Problems with parts

Factory orders

The manufacturer will receive a high volume of orders, and this means that when the orders are received, the manufacturer will allocate a build week. However, the timeframe for this build schedule will depend on the volume of orders received and therefore can vary from 4 weeks to a year depending on the car, the availability of parts and any plans the manufacturer has for facelifts or new models.

Robots working on cars in production line

Factory closures

There are certain times of the year where the manufacturers have annual shutdowns and this can cause not only a delay with delivery but also receiving information. These shutdowns can vary between manufacturer. Once they reopen, they have a backlog and this can affect your order. Don’t be too concerned though, a credible broker should take this into consideration when giving you an estimated delivery date.

If there is a problem with parts for my new vehicle, how will this affect my delivery time frame?

Problems with parts can vary from quality standards to a delay in delivery. A large number of manufacturing plants depend on Just-in-Time delivery of parts when producing cars, and if there is an issue with shipping, or the parts are stuck in port then this can have a knock-on effect on your vehicle.

Sometimes factories can release bulletins about issues that have arisen with parts, this can mean that your vehicle may have been built but they would need to recall it to make corrections if it is deemed that your car could be affected. There are very high-quality standards and several points of quality checking that happen through the journey of the order. This means that if any point there is a slight concern, the car will be delayed due to inspection and strict quality control.

The delays that part problems cause can vary significantly, however, your vehicle supplier should stay close to your order and provide you with clear information about any problems that occur, which will enable you to plan.

No matter where you source your vehicle from, the potential risks for delivery time frame are similar, what matters is finding a vehicle supplier that keeps you aware of what’s happening.

My car is due to be delivered in 4 weeks, so why don’t I have a build slot yet?

When you first order your car, you’re guaranteeing yourself a production slot. However, this slot is not immediately booked in. The slot your car is given will be based on a couple of things:

  • Time and date of delivery
  • How many people there are before you

At the factory, your production slot will be diarised, though it’s likely it will be as part of a run of many different cars. In the majority of factories on any given day, there will be a series of different vehicles being made on the same production line.

The actual building of a car from start to finish takes around 48 hours, with the vast amount of this time needed to ensure that the paintwork is dry. The majority of the building is carried out robotically.

Once the car has been manufactured, it will go through quality inspection to ensure that everything is working correctly. After quality has been checked your vehicle will be taken to its port of exit (though of course, this depends on where the car has been built).

Once your car has been shipped to its market destination it will be released to a distribution company who will then transport your vehicle from the docks to the dealerships. Sometimes the cars are taken from the docks to a central compound for temporary storage.

Ultimately, your car will not be built until just before it’s needed. But once it’s your turn in the schedule, the process is incredibly quick.

Does location affect delivery time?

Where the car is built greatly affects delivery time. For example, if the car is built in Europe, then the time-frame from build to delivery is approximately 4 weeks (if all goes to plan). But cars built further afield such as China or America can take much longer. The best way to understand how long your car will take is to ensure that you work with a supplier that understands the manufacturing process and therefore can give you an accurate estimation.

How long will my car be stuck at the port?

There are factors that also affect the shipping time of your delivery. These include:

  • Shipping schedules and logistical problems
  • Peak times at the port

How do shipping schedules affect car delivery time?

Vehicles can be at the port for up to 3 weeks awaiting shipping. The main reason for this is customs and excise, they can spot check at any time and vehicles can be quarantined with no fixed time for release. While this is rare, it does happen.

Peak times at the port

March and September are high volume months within the motor industry. This is because these are the months that the new number plates are released so during this time there are vast numbers of cars going through the port.

They are all stored in specific orders and if your car is behind hundreds or thousands of others, it is impossible to access it and speed up the process. However, a credible supplier will understand how these peak months affect lead times and can plan this with you to achieve your delivery preferences.

Audi SQ8

Will paperwork affect the delivery time-frame of my new vehicle?

Your delivery cannot take place until your finance agreement has been signed correctly, submitted to the finance company, processed, checked and verified. The time-frame for the speed of processing agreements depends on the time of year and the finance company.

Sometimes it can be 24 hours; sometimes it can be 5 days. Until they have completed this, they cannot authorise the release of your vehicle.

This is important because if you have been promised a time-frame but you cannot sign the documents within the time-frame, the delivery will be delayed until you complete them. This is rarely spoken about at the point of order with suppliers but it’s an important factor when it comes to delivery time. You can read more about what documents you will be signing here.

How does driver availability affect delivery time?

This is pretty self-explanatory. Just because your car is in stock, doesn’t mean you can have it the day it arrives. It will need to go through pre-delivery inspection and the delivery can only be booked after this has been done. Once it has been done, you will be offered the first available date for delivery. This depends on volume and driver availability.

The time-frame from completed inspection paperwork to delivery can vary from 3 days to 2 weeks depending on the manufacturer and the time of year.

Estimate vs. Promise

Some suppliers will guarantee you an exact delivery date at the point of order. Unfortunately, this date is neither realistic nor truthful. It is true that you can expect a date to be achieved and work towards that date. However, at the point of order, it is impossible to say conclusively that an exact date will be achieved.

If your vehicle supplier gives you an estimate, this will be based on the manufacturers lead time quoted at the point of order. This should only be taken as an estimate, not a promise. With a decision as important as buying or leasing a car you need to trust your supplier to give you all the facts, advantages and disadvantages without making promises just to secure a sale.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that your desired delivery date cannot be achieved, it just means that there are many factors that could alter this date, and it is best practice to prepare for this and be honest. So, if there is a slight delay, you can plan for it.

How can I trust the lead time my supplier has quoted for my new car?

The best way to know if you can trust your supplier is if they use the phrases ‘best estimate’, ‘potential lead time’ or even ‘approximate’. Why? This is because, as we’ve said above, nothing is guaranteed. Therefore, any information that is given should be an approximate guide and you should ensure that your supplier keeps you updated on the progress of the order.

It is tempting to be influenced by firm commitments however, we feel that educating customers in every aspect (good and bad) builds trust.

If you do take an estimate as a promise, you could end up selling your vehicle and then experiencing a delay and struggling to stay mobile.

Our recommendation would be to work closely with your supplier and have a plan for any slight delays that could arise. That way, even if they don’t happen, you can have peace of mind.

To find out more on how to trust your vehicle broker, read our article.

Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer

How can I track the lead time of my new car?

This depends on the supplier. Some suppliers will provide no updates unless you ask for them, others will give you a phone call every now and then, and others won’t have the technology or the contacts to find that information. There are some suppliers, however, that will provide you with accurate information through every step of the delivery process.

We give our customers access to a portal specifically designed for our customers to track their order. This is then updated weekly. However, not all vehicle suppliers do this, so it’s best to check with your vehicle supplier.

So, there you have it. As you can see, there are quite a few things that affect when your vehicle will be delivered. However, your broker should know this and take all these factors into account when giving you an estimate as to when your vehicle will arrive. The majority of orders go smoothly and time frames are met, though it’s always best to be prepared.

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Rachel Richardson

Rachel has been writing for as long as she can remember. She loves the written word and likes nothing more than to research something until she knows all she can about it.
Rachel Richardson


  • April Thomas| 27th September 2019 at 3:13 am Reply

    Ordered a Kia telluride on August 3 and still no news from the dealership. They said they can see it went through but no date as to delivery. They didn’t have to build the vehicle, they ordered one that was built. I did put a deposit down. Is this normal and is there no way to even get an estimate on where we are in the process?

    • Rachel Richardson| 27th September 2019 at 12:12 pm Reply

      Hi April,
      Thank you for your comment regarding delivery. As you are based in the US we are unable to offer you location-specific advice. As we mention in the article, the best place to get information is the dealership. If they are not providing you with data, the possibility is that no information is available to them. We would recommend you continue to contact them and ask them for information.

  • Olena| 19th September 2019 at 11:16 pm Reply

    Do you know if the delivery of cars with a production date of July has already begun? I was waiting for the delivery at the end of August, and then at the start of September; and now my dealer cannot say anything, they just suppose it should be soon, but no dates and no other info of where is my car. I know that the production was in July, and I was told it has “one of the transportation statuses.” Did anybody get his car already (from those who was waiting from July production like me)?

    • Rachel Richardson| 20th September 2019 at 11:37 am Reply

      Hi Olena,

      Thank you for your comment. Every car manufacturer will have a different schedule when it comes to car production and delivery. If you are based in the UK and would like to find out more information, if you provide us with the details of the car you have ordered and we could try and find out more information from our suppliers. In the interim, the only suggestion we have is that you contact your dealership and continue to request information from them on the status of your vehicle.

  • Paul Jones| 7th August 2019 at 6:49 pm Reply

    Hi, from the time a car arrives at port in the UK how long should it take to reach the dealership? Mine arrived today 07/08/19…

    • Rachel Richardson| 8th August 2019 at 12:15 pm Reply

      Hi Paul,

      The time can vary.

      Once the car arrives it will need to go through pre-delivery inspection and the delivery can only be booked after this has been done, and then you will be offered the first available date for delivery. This depends on volume and driver availability.

      The time-frame from completed inspection paperwork to delivery can vary from 3 days to 2 weeks depending on the manufacturer and the time of year.

      We hope that this helps. And good luck with your new vehicle.

  • Fred| 6th August 2019 at 3:13 am Reply

    I’ve been waiting since March for delivery of a Citroen. It was meant to be here in June then date put back to August.
    It’s August and still no car and the supplier can’t seem to get a straight answer from Citroen.
    When everything is automated and online this process is fundamentally flawed and is no way for any company to treat their customers.

    • Rachel Richardson| 6th August 2019 at 9:56 am Reply

      Hi Fred,
      Thank you for your comment regarding your Citroen. If you could let us know the model you have ordered we will be able to check with our own Citroen suppliers and hopefully find out more information for you.

      Kind regards.

  • Shan| 27th July 2019 at 9:54 pm Reply

    Hi I ordered Seat Arona in June the car has said in transit from factory for the last 7days when will it get to me.

    • Ronald Powell| 12th September 2019 at 4:23 pm Reply

      I ordered my citroen c5 aircross on 8/7/19 through my dealer on motability it is in a port somewhere awaiting shipment any ideas on time frame pls

      • Rachel Richardson| 12th September 2019 at 4:38 pm Reply

        Hi Ronald,

        Thank you for your question regarding delivery of your vehicle. Once a car has arrived at the port for shipping it can take anything up to 3 weeks. A manufacturer will wait until they have a number to ship before sending a transporter. The best advice we can offer is that you keep in touch with your dealership, who will be able to give you a better idea of what is happening with the timeline for your vehicle.

    • Rachel Richardson| 29th July 2019 at 5:01 pm Reply

      Hi Chanelle,
      Thank you for your comment. The delay could be for lots of reasons. The SEAT Arona is manufacturered at the SEAT plant in Spain and will take some time to transport from Spain on a container ship before it arrives in the UK, there may also be delays at port during busy periods of the year. If you are in doubt it is always best to contact the dealership directly.

      • Shan| 5th August 2019 at 8:26 pm Reply

        Thank you for that, it is now ready to be transported from the port.
        Hopefully not a long time to wait now?

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