What is a pre-delivery inspection?

Before you collect your brand new car, it will have gone through one final check, known as a pre-delivery inspection (PDI). But what exactly does it include?

What happens in a pre-delivery inspection?

During a PDI, the car is examined to make sure it is working mechanically with no issues, and is ready and safe to be driven on the road.

While the exact procedure varies depending on the manufacturer, PDI checks will examine the major components on the car. Here is a list of procedures that they will all generally include:

  • Examining the wheels. Hugely important is making sure the locking nuts are correctly tightened and that the tyres are inflated to the recommended levels.
  • Inspecting the exterior lights to see if they are working. The alignment of the headlights will be corrected if necessary.
  • Learning that the car can be locked, unlocked and started using the key or key fob.
  • Checking the car’s coolant, engine oil and washer fluids levels are correct, and topping them up if necessary.
  • Making sure safety features such as the seat belts and the dashboard warning lights are working as intended.
  • Inspecting the car for damage, and cleaning the car inside and out before it’s ready to be collected by the customer.

As part of these PDI checks, all of the equipment fitted to the car to protect it during transit (such as the bodywork wrapping and the suspension blocks that stop the car bouncing around while it’s being transported) will be removed.

Will my car be driven during a pre-delivery inspection?

Not every part of the PDI will be carried out while your car is stationary. A portion of the checks will involve your vehicle having a quick shakedown drive on the road. This is one of the reasons why your new car will already have some miles on the clock when you collect it.

While the distance covered varies depending on the manufacturer, the driving portion of the PDI is there for learning if the car behaves like it should on the open road and checking there are no issues. Brands will need to make sure that the steering doesn’t vibrate or pull to one side. This can be caused by incorrect wheel alignment or wheel balancing. They will also need to make sure that the anti-lock braking system is working.

How long does a pre-delivery inspection take?

PDI times will vary depending on how thorough and comprehensive the checks are. As a general rule of thumb, an inspection will generally take between one and two hours to complete.

Where will my car be inspected?

In many cases, the dealership you’re buying and collecting the car from will carry out the PDI checks before they hand you the keys. However, some car companies don’t do the inspections at the dealership, and instead do the checks at a different location. For example, if you buy a new Kia, the car will have its PDI carried out at the delivery depot when it arrives in the UK, before it’s transported to a dealership.

I want to buy a new car from dealer stock. Has it already been checked?

No. Even though it’s already in stock and available to order, the car will not have been given a pre-delivery inspection. The PDI will only be carried out once the car has been ordered and arrives at the depot or dealership that will do the checks.

What condition will my car be in while the checks are carried out?

Unless a mistake has been made while your car was being built, your car should, for the most part, be in the same spec you ordered it in. The only differences are fairly minor, and generally will be rectified during the checks. For example, did you know that your car will be fitted with its number plates during the PDI?

The only exceptions are any dealership-fitted accessories you’ve ordered, which will be added to your car after it has been registered. These include fixtures such as roof racks and tow bars.