What is a PDI, and what does it mean for you and your shiny new car lease?

Before you get your hands on your new lease car, it’ll undergo what’s called a PDI. PDI stands for ‘Pre-Delivery Inspection’ and is basically the final checks before delivery to make sure everything in your brand-new car is as it should be.

It means that any potential issues can be picked up on and fixed before they become problems, and you’ll have total peace of mind that your car is in tip top shape.

But what is a PDI, and what exactly does it involve?

What is a PDI?

Essentially, the PDI is a series of around six checks carried out by a specially trained technician to make sure everything is in shipshape condition before your car is booked in for delivery.

The comprehensive checks are carried out by the dealership supplying the car (not us! We're a leasing broker, which means we source the best lease deals for you from funders and dealerships, but we don't have any cars on site), and allows them to make sure that, ultimately, the car you’re receiving is fully functioning. 

It covers everything from cosmetic (like scratches in the paintwork or scuffs on the interior) to mechanical (like any warning lights on the dash) checks. There could be potential issues that arose when the car was taken from the factory to the dealership, or problems that were missed during manufacture.

The PDI is really the last line of defence – the final bastion in which to make 100% sure that your car is perfect before you get behind the wheel.

Ticking off a checklist on a clipboard on top of a car engine

Why does my car need a PDI?

Our biggest priority – and the same for the dealerships and funders we work with – is that you get the car you ordered, in the brand-new condition that you expect.

While, much of the time, your car will be absolutely fine and nothing will be picked up on during the PDI, it’s a chance to make absolutely sure that any potential faults are rectified before delivery.

Unfortunately, your car being brand-new doesn’t always guarantee it’s going to be fault-free, and a thorough PDI is the best way to make sure that you don’t have the headache of trying to sort out issues post-delivery. 

What are the benefits of a PDI?

The biggest benefit of a PDI is that you get a car delivered to you that’s been thoroughly checked over and signed off as good to go.

You’ll have peace of mind that your car is safe to drive, and that all the major working parts are in perfect condition, and any smaller imperfections have been dealt with.

What does the PDI check involve?

In essence, the PDI covers pretty much everything you can think of from the roof down.

Normally six areas are checked, though each dealership and manufacturer might have their own checklist to work through. These typically include the vehicle exterior, interior, engine compartment, the underside of the car, a road test, and the final bits of prep before delivery (such as removing any protective coverings).

The technician is looking for any exterior or interior damage, that the car works as it should and there are no warning lights on the dash, all fluid levels are correct, and that the car drives as expected.

Often, the car will be valeted before delivery too, but because the majority of deliveries are driven, there may be some exterior dirt visible on arrival. 

Man pointing at a car's touchscreen

Interior checks

The interior check in a PDI is a big chunk of it, and covers the entire interior – including the cabin and boot – to make sure there’s no visible damage and that all of the right documentation and spare wheel (if your car comes with one) is in place.

The interior check includes:

  • Checking that the lights work, including high and low beam, indicators and hazards
  • Checking the horn
  • Wipers and washers
  • Checking all the instruments and infotainment screen(s)
  • Heating, air conditioning and ventilation
  • Mirrors, door locks and windows
  • Any seat adjustments including memory seats and lumbar support, as well as heating and cooling
  • Sunroofs and convertible roofs
  • Seat belts, airbags and other safety mechanisms

Exterior checks

The exterior check involves a visual inspection to make sure the paintwork isn’t scratched, there’s no damage to the bodywork and that the alloy wheels aren’t scuffed. The technician will also be looking to make sure that there are no visible leaks, and there are no missing parts.

They’ll also check to make sure that the bonnet opens and closes without a hitch, while also checking the tyre pressure, battery condition and fluid levels. 

It’s at this point that the number plates will also be fitted.

Road test

The road test is the final piece of the puzzle.

The technician will take your car out for a short spin to tick off their final checks, including making sure that all the instruments and warning lights operate as they should, and that any and all driver assistance systems work without any issues.

If you’ve added on any optional extras, they’ll be checking to make sure that these are working too.

Other road test PDI checks include:

  • Testing the basic systems: parking, brakes, steering, heating, air con, instruments
  • Full diagnostics check
  • Audio and navigation systems
  • Engine performance
  • Transmission and gears
Happy looking woman leaning on the bonnet of a car

How long does a PDI check take?

A PDI normally takes a couple of hours to complete, though it can take up to five or so.

The actual length of time varies, and often depends on the make and model of your vehicle, and the level of detail needed to complete the check thoroughly.

However, your vehicle won’t be booked in for delivery until a few days after the PDI has taken place, to allow for time in case any faults are identified and need to be rectified, which can add on a couple of days to the PDI time.

It’s the vehicle manufacturer or supplying dealership who are responsible for carrying out all the PDI checks, and they have specially trained technicians on hand to make sure everything is checked properly, and you end up with a safe vehicle in the condition you’d expect.

Does the PDI affect my delivery date?

In most cases, the PDI won’t affect your delivery date.

The length of time that the PDI takes (and the average length for any issues to be sorted) is factored in when your Customer Experience Champion gets in touch to book your delivery date.

Most faults picked up during the PDI can be fixed quickly and at source without needing to send your car off for more specialist help, but in some (thankfully rare) cases the dealership might ask that your delivery date is put back if there is a problem identified that’s going to take longer to fix.

Our team, if we do say so, are a cracking bunch, and you’ll always be informed as quickly as possible about any potential delays.

And, ultimately, we want to make sure that the car that’s delivered to you is in perfect working condition. 

What happens if defects are found during the PDI?

If any issues are picked up during the PDI, they’ll be dealt with as quickly as possible.

Any fault that occurred during the manufacturing or transit phase of the operation will be directed back to the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) to be dealt with, while anything that was caused by the dealership will be rectified by them.

Generally, any cosmetic issues can be dealt with pretty quickly, though any mechanical faults might mean your car needs to visit a garage to see a specialist.

Either way, any issues that are highlighted during the PDI will be fixed before delivery – and you don’t have to worry about sorting it.

Got any other questions about the leasing process?

Alice Poole

Alice Poole

Alice applies her extensive test drive experience and her passion for motors to bring you informed and characterful articles and vehicle reviews.