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Car PrepThat car you’re salivating over at the dealership doesn’t just magically appear that delectable. Here are some of the steps involved in preparing it for show once it’s unloaded from the truck at the dealer.

Photograph of cars on a truck trailer.

• First, there is the pre-delivery inspection. The PDI price should be noted in the fine print of car ads—if it’s not, a dealer must disclose this. (Most vehicles are already closely inspected before they leave the factory.)

• The best dealers will have a checklist that includes confirming the paperwork (right colour, options, etc.), removing all protective material, installing any loose items stored in the trunk or back seat—such as floor mats or cargo covers—attaching the licence plate base, and checking the fluid levels to avoid any real nasty surprises.

• A service technician takes a quick test drive to make sure that there are no concerns, and if everything checks out, the car gets washed (if needed) and is ready to hit the lot.

Michael Bettencourt test drives more than 100 new vehicles a year and is a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada.