Taking delivery of your new car is a big occasion. While it’s easy to get lost in the moment of being handed the keys to your new set of wheels, you should take care that everything is in order. An oversight on your part at the time of taking delivery could lead to some stress or inconvenience later. Here are some pointers on what to do before taking delivery.
Bring someone along
Best take someone along when inspecting the car – if you have a trusted mechanic, even better. It’s nice to have an extra set of eyes and ears as you inspect the car so that you're more likely to notice things that may have been missed if only a single person were looking over the car. A mechanic will also be more likely to spot any sub-par repair work, or notice if anything seems out of place.
Walk around the car and inspect the surfaces for dings and scratches and places that may look repainted. Also keep an eye out for misaligned panels or improper panel gaps, which could indicate a shoddy repair job. Check the rubber seals around the doors and windows for cracks and check the tyres' for tread level and flat spots. Also switch on all exterior lights and ensure they are working properly and do not flicker. A flicker could indicate a wiring or battery problem.
A full inspection – especially by someone with a trained eye – can help you identify any damage or unwarranted wear and tear to your new car. This should be correctly rectified by the dealer prior to you taking possession.
Keep in mind that it’s not unusual for cars to suffer a little damage during storage or transit from the factory.
Inside the car, check if all the various adjustment functions for components like the wing mirrors, seats, steering and seatbelts work properly and check all electrical within the cabin such as the audio system/ touchscreen, the instrument cluster lights, cabin/reading lamps etc. Check the quality of the dashboard, door pads, seats, and if the overall fit and finish levels are acceptable. Also keep an eye out for any stains on the upholstery and carpets as it could be a sign of water seepage.
Fire-up the engine and switch on the air-conditioning; check if it cools the cabin quickly and effectively. Also check for any odour emanating from the system which could indicate the growth of bacteria inside the system. Improper cooling or a foul odour will require the system to be serviced.
Also make sure you check for the spare tyre, vehicle jack and tool kit. In most cars the spare wheel is under either the boot floor or the vehicle.
Under the hood
Open the bonnet and look for any signs of fluid leaks, dirt, grime and signs of rats. Also check all fluid levels to ensure they are at the correct level and colour. It’s also worth inspecting the rubber housings, tubing and insulation casings of wires under the bonnet for damage. Rubber components tend to dry out, harden and/or crack over time, which is an indicator that the car has been exposed to the elements for some time. If you notice any damage to the wiring or tubing, push to have the unit replaced prior to delivery.
Also, start up the engine, allow it to idle, and check for any peculiar or unusual noises. While at idle, the engine shouldn’t vibrate excessively, the bay should not smell of unburnt fuel and the exhaust should not emit black fumes.
Inspect the battery and its terminals for signs of corrosion as well, and ask the sales person for the battery's warranty card.
Pre-delivery test drive
Ok, you will have test driven the car prior to placing the order but this is more to check out your new car’s mechanicals. Insist on taking it for a test drive before officially accepting delivery. A test drive will help zero-in on any mechanical issues – manufacturing defects or otherwise. If the car has been lying still for a while, the tyres may develop a flat spot. This can be identified during the test drive, if not spotted during the visual inspection. Also get a feel for the steering, brakes, clutch and gearbox and ensure that all are functioning smoothly. On the test drive, see if the car is pulling in one direction, there is a judder in the brake pedal during hard braking, any unwanted suspension noise over uneven roads or if any of the warning lights show up.
Check the manufacturing month and year of the car. Ask the dealer to show you the “Form 22” which is issued by the manufacturer and mentions the vehicle’s engine number and chassis number along with the month and year of manufacture.
The car’s Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) should be same as the one appearing on the bill of sale, registration certificate and the finance or lease agreement. Check that the engine and chassis number of the car match with the ones on the invoice as well. And ensure your spelling, address and other details are correct and consistent on all documents.
You get only one chance to see if there are any fundamental issues with your car. Make the most of it and do a thorough job and don’t forget – any of the faults that you might see need to be noted down, signed and duly acknowledged by the dealer. Once satisfied, you can celebrate your new purchase with peace of mind to complement the excitement of having a new car.