Pre-Delivery Inspection (PDI) Checklist For New Cars

Govindan Kishwar
Govindan Kishwar

Updated on: 19th March, 2024 IST

Pre-delivery Inspection (PDI) checklist for new cars

Picture this: You test drive a bunch of cars, looking for the perfect one for you and your family. You shortlist one, book it, and eagerly wait for the day of delivery. When the big day arrives, you’re all smiles and drive off the showroom floor only to discover that the car you just put your hard-earned money into, has flaws. 

Maybe the engine is not performing optimally, or there are issues with the electrical systems of the car, for example, the infotainment system. At times, there can even be issues with the finish of the paint or interior fittings. But now that you’ve taken delivery, your only option is to get things repaired under warranty. This is where a Pre-delivery Inspection comes in, as it can significantly reduce the chances of you buying a car with major flaws. 

What is Pre-delivery Inspection (PDI)?

The full form of PDI, is Pre-delivery Inspection and it is a comprehensive list of checks that cover the interior, exterior, and mechanical parts of the car to ensure what you’re buying is without defects and gives the dealer or manufacturer a chance to rectify issues before you take delivery. The car’s VIN (Vehicle Identification Number), engine, interior upholstery, and electricals such as the lights and infotainment system are some of the things that are part of a PDI checklist.

Also Read : Used Car Inspection Checklist

Why should you do PDI for your cars?

Conducting a Pre-delivery Inspection when buying a new or used car is a safety seal that ensures your money is not being spent on a vehicle with issues, or worse, a lemon. It helps highlight any manufacturing defects the vehicle may have from the factory. For those who don’t know, a lemon is when a car or motorcycle has issue after issue despite the service centre trying to repair it. It leaves a sour taste. Lemon = sour. Cool? Let’s move on.

Also Read : The Ultimate Checklist for a Test Drive

Car PDI checklist for physical inspection

When doing a physical or exterior inspection of a car, keep the following things in mind:

  • Check the paint: Check for any ripples in the paint’s finish, as this may be a sign that the car has been repainted, most likely due to damage during transit from the factory. Other signs to look out for include checking that all panels are of the same shade of colour, as it is very hard to repaint in the exact same shade as the manufacturer. Make sure to inspect the car during daytime in outdoor lighting conditions, as these will better show any scratches or minor dents
  • Check the tyres, brakes, and rims: Make sure the tyres fitted to your new car are the size that come with the variant, but also check the manufacturing year of tyres to ensure you are not being sold a car with old tyres. Physically inspect the brakes and rims for any damage and leaks from the brake lines
  • Engine bay: Open the bonnet and inspect the engine bay thoroughly for signs of excessive dust or leaks. Typically, new cars might have a little dust under the bonnet that settles during transit, but other than that, the engine bay should look pristine, and the engine number and chassis number should be the same as that on the invoice or registration certificate. Make sure the battery is new and that all fluid levels are in optimal condition 
  • Check the lights, wipers, and windshield: Before checking that they all work, it is important to physically inspect the car’s headlights, tail lights, indicators and any auxiliary lamps for signs of damage. You should also do this for the windshield and wipers. When checking the windshield, ensure there are no chips or ripples in the glass, and that the windshield seals are perfect without any visible breaks or damage
  • Panel gaps: Walk around the car and check that all panel gaps are even. Uneven panel gaps can be a sign of incorrect fittings, or if you’re really unlucky, structural damage to the chassis

Car PDI checklist for a test drive

If your dealer allows you to take a test drive of your car before delivery, keep the following things in mind: 

  • Make sure the engine sounds healthy and there are no unusual sounds from the engine bay 
  • In a manual car, see that the clutch is not slipping or unreasonably hard, and that gearshifts are smooth
  • If you’re buying an automatic, ensure there is no mechanical noise from the gearbox and that gearshifts are not jerky
  • Test the brakes to gauge the initial bite and that there is no squeaking noise. 
  • Finally, check the air conditioning (AC) unit to ensure the system is cooling well and the engine is not stressed when using the AC 
  • Check the odometer reading. It is not unusual for new cars to have been driven for 20-30 km as part of the quality control process, or from the stockyard to the showroom. If you notice an odometer reader higher than this, ask the dealer for an explanation

Also Read : 2024 Car Features List & Explaination

Car PDI checklist for interior inspection

Imagine finding fault in the area that you’re going to spend most of your time in! The interior of your new car is key to ensuring a pleasurable car ownership experience, so keep the following in mind during your PDI: 

  • Seats and upholstery: Check that the seats, headliner, and any fabric on the door panels are damage-free. Signs of tears, stains, or uneven stitches are something to highlight to the dealer immediately. Make sure the seat adjustment controls work as they should 
  • Infotainment system and controls: Check all electricals, including any cabin lights, wipers, headlights, indicators, and power windows. Check that the infotainment system’s inputs such as AUX, CD player, and bluetooth connection work as they should. If the car supports Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, connect your phone and see if it connects seamlessly. Play music and check that all speakers are working correctly. Pro tip: Play songs with a lot of bass at high volume. This will tell you if any of the speakers are not fitted correctly 
  • Steering wheel: If the steering wheel has steering-mounted controls, check that they all work as intended. If the steering wheel has rake and reach adjustment, both should work smoothly without needing excessive force. Turn the steering wheel in both directions until it locks without issues. Finally, when the steering wheel is dead centre, make sure the wheels are too. This is a good way to check that the wheels and steering wheel are aligned correctly 
  • Sunroof: If your car comes with a sunroof or moonroof, make sure it operates smoothly while opening and closing, and that there are no visible gaps when closed. You do not want water leaking in during rains despite the sunroof being closed!

Car PDI checklist for inspection of essential fluids

A car’s fluids are what blood is to humans. Keep those healthy, and all organs, umm, parts, will work perfectly. Check the following fluids when going through your PDI inspection checklist:

  • Engine oil: Making sure your new car’s heart has all it needs to function properly is the most important fluid level to check, as low or poor quality engine oil can spell disaster in just a few short kilometres of driving. Check that the car’s engine oil level is where it should be. Having too much engine oil can also be detrimental to your car’s engine 
  • Coolant: After the engine oil, the coolant is the most important fluid level in your car, as it keeps the engine cool by dissipating heat and at optimal temperatures. Low coolant levels can lead to your engine overheating, and if it goes unnoticed, cause the engine to seize
  • Transmission fluid: If accessible, check the transmission fluid, as it ensures your gearshifts are smooth and there is no unnecessary wear and tear
  • Brake fluid: Your brakes being reliable and stopping your car when it should can be the difference between a smooth driving experience and an accident. Like the engine oil and coolant, the brake fluid reservoir can be found in the engine bay
  • Power steering fluid: Low power steering fluid can lead to a hard to turn steering wheel and even cause the power steering motor to fail prematurely 
  • Windshield washer fluid: The windshield washer fluid reservoir is usually located in the engine bay and is crucial to keeping your windshield clean. Some cars may have a separate reservoir for the rear windshield washer fluid, so make sure to check that as well

Documents required for Pre-delivery inspection

Keep the following documents handy when conducting a Pre-delivery Inspection:

  • Invoice: Your invoice will have the car’s chassis, engine number, and VIN number. Make sure these physically match when going through your PDI checklist
  • RTO documents: Your RTO documents will also mention the car’s engine and chassis number. Make sure these are the same as the invoice and the number on the car 
  • Dealer PDI checklist: Most showrooms provide dealers with a car PDI checklist to ensure customers don’t get a faulty vehicle. Ask your sales advisor to share this with you as well and conduct a PDI of your own
  • The link to this article!

Points to keep in mind during a Pre-delivery Inspection (PDI)

While a PDI checklist can be quite exhaustive, it is important to keep the following in mind to ensure your PDI experience is smooth: 

  • Don’t rush: In all the excitement to get a new car, don’t rush through your PDI checklist. Your Pre-delivery Inspection is crucial to your car-buying experience, so take your time and go through the checklist thoroughly
  • Daylight is your friend: Always conduct a Pre-delivery Inspection during daytime. Natural light will help unmask any imperfections in the paint, and the interior of your car, engine bay, and the car’s underbody will also be easier to inspect 
  • Ask questions: Struggling to find the brake fluid reservoir? Can’t find the controls for the fog lamps? Don’t hesitate to ask the dealer to assist you. If you see any discrepancy, say in the odometer reading, ask the dealer for an explanation


We hope you now have all the tools to conduct a thorough Pre-delivery Inspection when buying a new or used car, and answers your question of ‘What is a PDI in a car?’ as well. So make sure to be thorough, check everything, and most of all, enjoy your new set of wheels!


Q. What is PDI inspection?

A PDI inspection, or Pre-delivery inspection is a checklist when purchasing a new car to ensure you identify any flaws in the car before taking delivery. 

Q. What should we check during PDI?

Some basic checks during a PDI include checking all the electrical components, engine, paint, interior, and that the car’s VIN, chassis, and engine number match those on the invoice. 

Q. How much time does it take to conduct a PDI?

You can conduct a thorough PDI in under one hour.

Q. What happens if I find any defects in my new car during PDI?

If you find any defects during your PDI, make sure you highlight these to your sales advisor or dealer immediately so they can take the necessary steps to rectify the problem.

Q. Is PDI mandatory for cars?

While a PDI is not mandatory for cars, it is highly recommended you do one to ensure any manufacturing defects are highlighted before taking delivery. 

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