How to Prepare Your Car for Shipping Fast and Easy


When you are moving to another state or you are preparing for your vacation – you might want to consider shipping your vehicle rather than driving to the new place. Keep in mind that in most cases shipping your car is more cost-effective, faster and safer than driving it by yourself. And, there are a few things you should know about preparing your car for shipping.

Find a Reputable Shipping Company

When you prepare your vehicle for auto transport, the first and utmost step to secure a safe trip is to find the best auto transporter. Consider:

Professionalism – Make sure that company hires only experienced drivers who have worked long in the industry. Car shipping is not an easy job – it requires deep understanding of how the industry works and expertise to cope with unexpected road conditions.

24/7 support – Work with an auto transporter that keeps the lines to communication open at all times. Reliable car shipping companies inform their customers about the process in advance and they are ready to answer all questions you might have during pick-up, transit and delivery.

Accurate instant quotes – Professional auto transporters provide online car shipping calculators via their websites or over the phone/email. Ask for a car transport quote before you decide on an auto transporter.

Flexibility and resilience – Good auto transport companies provide a range of methods and accessorial services to fit customer’s needs and requirements. They can also arrange an urgent pick-up if you need your vehicle to be delivered fast to its new final destination.

Clean Your Car In And Out to Prepare It for Shipment

Start your car shipping preparations by thoroughly washing the exterior of your automobile. Remove any dirt, dust and other filth from your car’s exterior. Dirt can easily hide scratches and dents. If you are not pressed for time, consider cleaning the interior as well.

Do a meticulous visual inspection and note any damages that your car may have endured prior to moving day. Look for scratches, paint chips and discoloration, dents, corrosion or any other cosmetic or major defect. Whenever you locate a damage, make a good, high quality photo. Moreover, turn on the date stamp function of your photographing device.

Any damage that is not visible on the photos was done while your car was in the auto transporter’s custody. You can use close-up shots as evidence in the inspection report that you will have to sign prior to and after the actual transportation.

Run a Maintenance Check before Auto Transport

Inspect your car for fluid leaks – look up the engine, underneath the car chassis and around the fuel tank. If you notice any leaks regardless of how small they may seem, fix the issue before the auto transporter arrives on pick-up date.

Make sure your car battery is charged and secured in its bracket against unexpected shifts and jolts while on the road.

Tire damage can occur during the loading and unloading phase of the auto transport. Check whether the tires are in good condition. Under-inflated or over-inflated tires can cause issues. Have your tires properly inflated in order to eliminate the risk of damage to the tire.

Double check whether the emergency brake of your vehicle is functioning properly as this is an important requirement when preparing your car for shipping.

Disable the alarm system of your car. Have in mind that the driver may be authorized to stop an untimely activated alarm system by any means possible.

If you are familiar with any mechanical problems that your automobile exhibits, tell the truck driver about them regardless of how minor they may be. If necessary, prepare written car handling instructions and give them to that same driver.

Check car before auto transport

Empty the gas tank of your vehicle to only 1/4 of its capacity to avoid adding extra weight and incur a surcharge later. Furthermore, additional weight and hazardous materials (flammables) can put at risk the shipment.

Secure Loose Features and Remove Belongings

When you prepare your car for auto transport, protect removable parts from the exterior of your car - racks for bikes, skis or baggage. Take them down before your car is loaded onto the truck trailer. Also, fully retract or remove your car’s antenna. Safeguard spoilers, extra lights and side-view mirrors with bubble wrap or special protective coverings.

Additionally, remove any personal belongings, electronic devices, sensitive documents with personal data, expensive jewelry, etc. Keep in mind that the insurance of your car shipping company will not cover such inventory in case they go missing or are damaged while in transit. Do not leave any hazardous substances in your vehicle storage compartment either.

If your car is a convertible, secure well its top to avoid possible damage from inclement weather conditions. Close any holes or tears to prevent damage from the wind. Cover the top with a fitting tarp protect from extreme winds.

You can leave your spare tire, emergency kit, jack, hand tools in the car. The license plates must not be removed.

Prepare your car for auto transport – Last Arrangements

  • Deactivate parking passes and toll tags before your auto transporter arrives.
  • When you prepare a vehicle for auto transport, check with your auto insurer to see whether the primary insurance covers your car in transit.
  • Write down the digits of your car odometer and keep the numbers in a secure place.
  • Arrange for an extra set of keys to hand over to the driver and keep the original one with you.
  • Inform auto transporter about possible obstacles such as:  dead-end streets, narrow streets, trees with low hanging branches or local laws preventing trucks from entering the neighborhoods.

Prepare your Car for Shipment: Pick-Up and Delivery Day

You probably have many questions regarding the auto transport. The whole auto shipping process can be a bit overwhelming if you have no idea what to expect upon pick-up and delivery.

Car pickup day

Pick-up Day

The assigned driver will call you before his arrival to inform you that he is on his way to your location. You or a designated person must be present at the address to sign the bill of lading and the inspection report. The bill of lading is the legal agreement between you and the auto transport company and it outlines the terms under which a vehicle is being shipped.

The driver will also note the condition of your vehicle on the bill of lading. Read the agreement carefully before signing. Ask questions regarding payment or the particular terms before you sign. Give the driver instructions in writing regarding any mechanical issues your car has. Ask any last-minute questions you may have regarding the transport of your car. Once you sign off your bill of lading, the driver will load your car onto the carrier and head towards their way to the final destination.

What to expect:

  • Perform a thorough inspection with the driver;
  • Sign the bill of lading and the inspection report;
  • Confirm any last arrangements around delivery;
  • Handle writing instructions if your vehicle is inoperable or with mechanical issues;

Delivery Day

Upon delivery, you or an authorized person will need to be available to perform an inspection with the driver and release driver if there are no damages to submit. You need to ensure that no new damages occurred while your vehicle was in transit. Actually, it is unlikely that there will be new damage if you hire a professional auto transporter. After confirming that your car is damage-free, you sign the bill of lading and release the driver.

Next, you may want to give a quick wash to your car and further clean the interior. And, if you have moved out of state, you will need to change your vehicle registration and driver’s license. Time and procedures vary by state, therefore you should go to your local DMV or look for information online. Keep in mind that generally, there is a deadline to completing this task.

What to expect:

  • Perform final inspection with the driver
  • Sign the bill of lading and release driver
  • Submit a claim for damages if such have occurred in transit
  • Change car registration and driver’s license if you move out of state


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