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Make sure your car is ready for sale with a pre-delivery inspection checklist

Make sure every car you sell is ready to drive and avoid surprises with a thorough PDI checklist

What is a Pre-delivery inspection (PDI)?

Pre-delivery inspection, or PDI, is the final inspection before a new car is sold. These inspections cover every piece of the vehicle, from steering wheels to brake lights, and most PDIs include a road test. Vehicle inspectors assess the car at the dealership, so they can identify any problems. Minor issues can be fixed on-site, but a larger problem would stop the sale.

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Table of contents

1. What is checked during a PDI?

1.1. Exterior

1.2. Interior

1.3. Systems

1.4. Test drive

2. Why is a PDI important?

What is checked during a PDI?

The PDI that takes place before the sale of a new car examines the interior, exterior, and all of the systems within the vehicle to make sure there is nothing that prevents the car from being sold. Vehicle inspectors typically conduct a PDI in several phases.


The first area checked during a pre=purchase car inspection is the exterior. Here, vehicle inspectors will look for:

  • Scratches, dents, or other marks on the car’s exterior
  • Inconsistencies in the paint job
  • Car doors that lock properly
  • A bonnet and boot lid which close properly
  • A clean, rust-free engine bay
  • Any tangled wires, oil spills, or damaged parts under the bonnet
  • The spare tire/wheel
  • Cracked glass on the windshield and windows
  • New and properly inflated tires on the car

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When checking the interior of a new car, check for:

  • Any damage to the door pads or seats
  • Damage to the dashboard
  • A smooth finish on the interior
  • A properly moving glovebox
  • Any stains or water leakage
  • Working seat belts and seat adjustment controls
  • A free-moving steering wheel
  • Windows which roll up and down properly
  • An odometer reading below 100km/62mi

  • Systems

    Auto inspectors also need to make sure all the systems that the car is equipped with are working. That means looking for:

    • Working AC
    • Dust in the AC vent or an unusual smell coming from the air
    • Working speakers, USB ports, and/or headphone jacks
    • A working horn and windshield wipers
    • Working lights (headlights, tail lights, interior lights, indicator lights, and fog lights)
    • Any rust on the battery
    • When conducting a PDI, check to make sure the levels of fluids such as engine oil and coolant are within a normal range. You also want to make sure there is an adequate amount of brake fluid, steering fluid, and windshield wiper fluid.

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      Test drive

      After all the mechanisms have been evaluated, complete the PDI by taking the car for a test drive. On this drive, you are making sure:

      • The acceleration and brakes work correctly. There should be no unexpected sounds made by either gas or brake.
      • The car moves in a straight line when you let go of the steering wheel. Otherwise, the wheel needs to be realigned. Only let go of the steering wheel if it is safe and there are no other cars around.
      • There are no unexpected noises coming from the suspension or chassis
      • The gearbox is smooth and both gear lever and hand brake work properly
      • After a successful road test, the pre-delivery inspection is complete. Don’t forget to send all the documentation associated with the new vehicle to your customer. Provide them with the:

        • Invoice of the car
        • Payment receipts
        • Insurance policy
        • Road tax registration (RTO) receipt, and vehicle registration number
        • Warranty papers for the car and all accessories
        • Extended warranty
        • Roadside assistance (RSA) copy
        • Owner’s manual and service booklet
        • Pollution under control (PUC) certificate

        • Why is a PDI important?

          Vehicle inspectors should always conduct a PDI in case the auto technician missed something before releasing the car to be sold. Most pre-purchase car inspections only take around an hour to complete, which is a very short time compared with the possibility of recalling the vehicle.

          PDI inspections are an extra step, but they don’t typically have an impact on how quickly a car gets delivered. That’s because manufacturers account for the time required to perform a PDI in their delivery estimates. And even if the auto inspector finds something, as long as it is a minor issue, it can be fixed by the dealership.

          Pre-delivery inspections are easiest with a digital checklist app like Lumiform. Simply download a PDI form, and then you can conduct as many inspections as you need all from your phone. By downloading completed inspections, it’s easy to track the status of each yet-to-be-sold vehicle.

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