What is a Pre-Delivery Inspection?

PDI system

Pre-delivery inspections (PDI) are exactly as they sound, a full inspection of a vehicle to assess its readiness for the road. With new vehicles, this includes switching the vehicle out of shipping mode, correcting tire pressures, removing shipping plastic, installing wheel lock knuts (optional of course), checking fluid levels, and driving the vehicle long enough to set readiness monitors in the PCM. With used vehicles, it involves the initial used car inspection, and a follow up inspection after any needed repair and maintenance is completed. This gives the potential customer confidence that the vehicle they are about to purchase will be ready for the road and safe to drive.

Why are they Important?

To understand the importance of this, one would only need to look at customer satisfaction ratings for different manufacturers. Hyundai has a very in-depth new car PDI system. They require their sellers to maintain this system to the letter as well, often fining or otherwise punishing those that fall below standard, and greatly rewarding those that keep up to par. Dealerships have helped to find major recall issues before a single unit is sold, and the come back rate for new cars is nearly zero. This has led to a high reputation of consistent quality for each vehicle that comes off their lot. Some manafacturers, however, don’t put as much stock in their PDI systems, and their customer satisfaction rates are abysmal.

When I was working at a Chrysler dealer, they had a great PDI system, but our General Manager had us rush them to put cars on the lot. I was never that comfortable with it, but you do what your boss tells you to pay your bills. I found that a lot of cars would come back within a week of being sold for items that could have easily been remedied within the PDI system, but now that a customer found it, we had to spend money and time on warranty jobs that don’t pay as well. Once it was an under torqued outer tie rod end on a 2500 Ram. This was a safety issue that we could have avoided for that customer with little to no trouble, and it wouldn’t have cost our dealership a warranty job, a warranty part, or a customer’s satisfaction with their vehicle.

What Should I Do?

The importance of PDIs cannot be understated. Whether you are a new or used car dealer, make sure that each technician that performs these inspections has full training on what to look for, how to look for it, and the integrity to do it on every car, every time, no matter what. Try to incentivize good inspections, recognize when a tech goes above and beyond, give small bonuses for finding issues, with less experienced techs, let them fix it for the learning experience. It may seem like a waste of time at first, but it will create a reputation for customer satisfaction. This reputation will translate to more sales and more trusting customers.