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When Driving is about Lifestyle, Car Life Nation is the Answer

When Driving is about Lifestyle, Car Life Nation is the Answer

A red 2023 Ford F-150 Lightning for sale is shown off-roading.

Why You Should Custom Order Your Next Ford F-150

The car buying process can be a frustrating experience at the best of times, but with recent shortages, supply chain issues, and a lack of inventory, it might now feel more difficult than ever. Say you’re looking for a new Ford F-150 for sale. You could drive around to a bunch of local dealerships and take your chances on whatever they might have in stock, but these days the odds of randomly running into your dream vehicle aren’t that great. Even if you do manage to find a serviceable model, prices are through the roof, with increased demand and inflation potentially adding thousands to a vehicle’s bottom line.

The solution to this sad lack of inventory? Custom ordering. Getting a vehicle direct from the manufacturer removes a lot of the uncertainty from the process, allowing drivers to build their ideal truck without limiting them to the local inventory. From the ability to build a one-of-a-kind vehicle to convenience, savings, and more, there are plenty of reasons to consider a custom order. Let’s run through some of those now as we take you through the process of custom ordering your next vehicle.

A silver 2023 Ford F-150 Platinum is shown parked near a cabin.

Potential for Savings

There are a number of advantages to custom-ordering your next Ford F-150. The ability to personalize the pickup to your exact specifications is a major selling point for many, but it’s not the only factor. Few drivers realize that custom orders can actually be more affordable than the models they’ll find at their local dealership. This might seem a little counterintuitive at first, as customization generally tends to be more expensive than buying something right off the shelf, but it all comes down to something called ADM.

Short for Additional Dealer Markup, ADM is basically a fee tacked onto a vehicle’s MSRP for reasons that range from market adjustments and dealer-installed extras to vehicle prep and more. While these sorts of markups have long been part of the vehicle buying process, they’ve been on the rise in recent years as low inventory, supply chain challenges, and other constraints drive vehicle prices ever higher. There’s been some pushback from buyers and automakers alike––Ford has even threatened some dealers with losing their access to high-demand models like the F-150 Lightning due to exorbitant ADM fees––but they’re here to stay for now.

Custom ordering your next F-150 is a great way to avoid paying the ADM premium or at least reduce it by a significant margin. Ford has been promoting their custom ordering program in a big way lately, connecting directly with buyers to deliver a bespoke pickup while cutting out the middleman. Well, not entirely. Custom-ordered vehicles are still technically sold through a dealership but come with some distinct advantages over the typical model you might buy off the lot. That’s not to say that all customer-ordered vehicles escape the ADM curse, but it’s generally easier to negotiate when you’re not buying a vehicle out of a dealer’s regular allocation of inventory from the automaker. That basically means that the dealer is selling you a car they wouldn’t normally have on the lot, which gives drivers a little more bargaining power when it’s time to negotiate.

Custom ordering your next vehicle comes with another big advantage for those looking to stay under budget: price protection. Some automakers like Ford offer price protection for custom orders, allowing drivers to lock in a price that won’t suddenly skyrocket, no matter how long it might take for the vehicle to actually arrive at your local dealership. If the MSRP of a vehicle increases between the time it’s ordered and when it arrives, your local Ford dealer can submit a price protection request and have Ford HQ reimburse buyers for the difference. This is an especially important advantage these days as a lack of inventory and inflation have seen steady price creep across the industry, but custom ordering can go a long way in insulating drivers from such market forces.

So what are the disadvantages of a custom vehicle? Basically just time. Custom-ordered vehicles typically take a couple of months to arrive, requiring some patience on the part of drivers. If you plan ahead, this might not be much of an issue, but for those who need a new vehicle ASAP, it can be a major roadblock. A week after you place your order, you’ll receive an email confirming that the factory has started the build, and a VIN and ETA should arrive between two and eight weeks later. Then it’s just a matter of waiting for it to be shipped to the dealership. Generally speaking, the entire process should take around three months from the time you place your order until the vehicle shows up at your local dealership, but that timeline can vary significantly depending on which vehicle you order and current market conditions.

Build It Your Way: Trim

So how do you go about custom ordering your next Ford F-150? There are a couple of ways to proceed. Walking right into your local Ford dealership is one way to go, but if you’re looking to save a little time, the online route works just as well. Simply navigate over to the Ford manufacturing page, where you’ll be able to customize your new F-150 from the ground up. The automaker’s easy-to-use website will guide you through every step of the process, allowing you to choose everything from trim and color to cab size, bed length, equipment packages, and more.

Start by choosing your ideal trim. From the budget-friendly XL to the well-rounded Lariat, luxurious Limited, and off-road beasts like the Tremor and Raptor, there’s an F-150 model to fit the needs of every driver. With eight trims to choose from, it might be a little overwhelming, but the website allows users to filter trims by cab size and box length to help narrow down the options. Once you’ve selected the trim, it’s time to start building your new favorite ride.

If you’re interested in a new F-150 King Ranch, for example, you’ll begin by choosing between eight exterior color options before moving on to your engine. As one of the F-150’s mid-tier trims, the King Ranch is offered with three different engine options: a 5.0-liter V8, 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6, or 3.5-liter PowerBoost Full Hybrid V6. Different engines come with different transmissions and rear axle ratios, so it’s important to do your research before rushing into a decision.

Build It Your Way: Configuration and Exterior

Drivers can then select between two-wheel drive and four-wheel drive, depending on what sort of use their F-150 is going to see, before proceeding to package selection. The F-150 is already one of the most versatile pickups on the road, but by adding specific equipment packages, it’s easy to outfit the truck for a specific role or duty. See a lot of towing or hauling in your future? Add the Trailer Tow Package with a Class IV trailer hitch receiver, Pro Trailer Backup Assist, trailer brake control, LED tailgate, and more. Want to kick up some mud on the off-road trails? The FX-4 Off-Road Package brings an electronic rear-locking axle, Hill Descent Control, off-road-tuned shocks, skid plates, and Rock Crawl Mode to the equation.

Exterior customization options range from upgraded wheels and tires to tonneau covers, bed liners, loading ramps, moon roofs, a 360-degree camera, and onboard scales, just to name a few. Drivers who opt for the hybrid powertrain can even add Ford’s Pro Power Onboard technology which gives them access to a 2.0, 2.4, or 7.2-kW power outlet, transforming the storied pickup into a generator on wheels.

The gray interior and dash of a 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning is shown.

Build It Your Way: Interior

When it comes to the interior, Ford’s website gives every customer the opportunity to build out the cabin to their exact specifications. Choose between different seating options, comfort and convenience features, upholstery, and infotainment options, including a range of available audio upgrades. Some of the F-150’s more novel features include an interior work surface that’s perfect for completing paperwork or invoices on the job site, an in-vehicle safe, and a perimeter alarm. Once you’ve completed your build, the website will display an itemized invoice that details all the selected options and their cost, spitting out a net price as well as an estimated monthly payment.

If you’re looking for a more personalized experience, your local Ford dealer’s website provides an alternative to Ford’s own site. Just look for the “Custom Order” tab at the top of the page, enter your name, contact info, and any additional notes, and a sales rep will follow up to get the process started. This method is perfect for those who prefer the human touch, allowing drivers to discuss the pros and cons of each model or trim and pick the sales rep’s brain on equipment packages, safety features, and other options.

Get Your Perfect Truck

When it comes time to order your next vehicle, consider a custom order. This approach allows you to build a unique pickup that has all the features you need––and none that you don’t––ensuring that your new vehicle is the best fit for your particular needs and style. If you stop and think about it, it’s actually a little funny to think that this isn’t how all new vehicle purchases work. After all, who would settle for taking home a random model off the lot when they could build their own dream vehicle from the ground up. It’s a little like designing and building a new house versus buying something off the market with one major difference: a custom-ordered vehicle might actually be more affordable than some existing dealer models. Between being able to put your own mark on your next vehicle and the potential cash savings, it’s hard to make an argument against custom ordering. Even if you’re just in the mood to window shop, you can always start a custom build to get an idea of options and prices and discover the potential of a custom truck.

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