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If you decide to transport your vehicle, you need to know how to prepare your car for shipping.

First step is to choose a trailer type. People usually transport classic cars, vintage cars, and expensive sports cars on enclosed trailers. This will lower chances of any kind of damage during the car shipping process. Open transport service means that your vehicle will be transported on an open trailer. It’s the most common and budget friendly option. Whichever trailer you decide to use, to prepare a car for transport is important and it will involve the same steps for open car carrier and enclosed car carrier.

30 Steps How To Prepare Your Car For Transport

Many people are not familiar with the car relocation process. To make the process easier, preparation is a key. We have listed some useful car shipping tips. Consider using these tips as a checklist  when preparing your car for relocation. This will give you confidence that you did everything you could to ensure your vehicle’s safe arrival to its destination.

1. Check any shipper requirements

Ask your selected car shipping company if the company has any specific requirements in preparing the car for relocation. Each transport company has different requirements which can be found in their legal contract. Some shippers require vehicles to be washed before pickup. Some will require you to remove luggage racks if you have them on your vehicle. Ask your shipper on how to prepare your car for transport, to avoid any last-minute surprises.

2. Remove personal items

Remove all personal belongings from the vehicle. The Department of Transportation forbids auto shippers to transport any “household goods”. Many personal items fall into that category. As the truck crosses state lines, it is eligible for inspection. Removal of personal items from your vehicle is a possibility due to non-compliance. The auto company or carrier will not be responsible for them. In addition, car shippers insurance does not cover personal items in transported cars. Things like an emergency kit, can stay in the vehicle.

Items to be removed for shipping
Examples of personal items in cars.

3. Wash the outside of your car

Wash the outside of your vehicle, whether it’s shipped in an enclosed trailer or open trailer. It is easier to spot any scratches, existing damage, dents and dings on a shiny and clean car. It makes it easier to document the preexisting vehicle’s condition and any noticeable imperfections during inspection. A full detail is not necessary. When your car arrives dusty we highly recommend washing it and conducting your own inspection as soon as possible.

Also read: The Cheapest Way To Ship a Car (13 TIPS)

4. Clean the interior of your car

After removal of all items, vacuum the upholstery, carpets and car mats. Wipe down all hard surfaces. Even though the car carrier does not document interior condition and cargo insurance doesn’t cover most of the claims associated with the vehicle’s interior, if you will clean it and will take photos of the vehicle’s interior prior to the shipping, this will protect you in case any claim will arise.

5. Inspect car condition with driver

Now it’s time to conduct your vehicle inspection. Driver will document any scratches, dents, imperfections, or paint chips. You want to know the preexisting condition of your car before transport. Ask the driver to provide you with a copy of the inspection report or take a photo of it and keep it for your record.

6. Take detailed photos of the car

In addition to inspection we highly recommend taking lots of photos, including the roof, before pickup and delivery. You want to be sure to have evidence of your vehicle’s preexisting condition in the unlikely event if a damage will occur.

7. Document the odometer of the car

Document the odometer reading of your vehicle on the inspection slip. Keep in mind, the carrier might have to drive your vehicle on and off the trailer several times. During the transport, loading and unloading a vehicle may be necessary. Because repositioning of your car is likely to occur, recording the car’s mileage may be useful to make sure it was driven solely for loading and unloading.

8. Keep minimal gas

Keep the gas tank filled to around a quarter of a tank. A full tank adds extra weight. This could add unnecessary complications to the shipping process. With international shipping, the tank must have a ¼ tank or less. Entry refusal is possible if the tank is too full. You can always refuel your vehicle at its new destination.

Also read: How long does it take to transport a car?

9. Repair any tears or openings and bolt down any covers

If you are shipping a convertible, make sure the canvas roof is in good repair and attached to the frame. If there are any rips or tears, have them stitched or taped closed. Bolt down or remove any tarps or covers. Carrier is not responsible for safety and security of any loose items on the transported vehicle.

10. Remove any detachable parts

Remove bike racks, roof racks, or anything you have added to the outside of your vehicle. Prepare your car for shipping by removing aftermarket items. Trailer loading requires suitable vehicle clearance. Items attached to the trailer could catch or scrape the truck ramps or trailer frame and even cause damage to your vehicle. We still can arrange shipping service with additional vehicle’s accessories. If removal of any of these is impossible, please contact ShipCar24 to discuss different options. 

11. Check battery

If the car is operable, the battery should be in good working condition. The driver must be able to get the vehicle on and off the trailer while it isn’t driven under its own power. The car must be able to start during pick up and delivery. Non-starting vehicles are considered inoperable and may add delays and additional shipping expense.

12. Check for leaks

It is a good idea to have a maintenance check before you ship a car. Check to make sure there are no fluid leaks from the vehicle. It is your responsibility to ensure that the vehicle doesn’t have any leaks. If there is a leak, please notify the shipping company so they can be sure to position the car on the trailer so that it doesn’t leak on other vehicles.

13. Disable anti-theft devices

Disable any anti-theft systems installed on the vehicle. The driver must be able to drive the car without an alarm, lock downs or police notifications. Before the pick up, please provide the auto transport company with any special instructions and disable alarms.

14. Get extra keys

Most car shippers will not require you to get an extra key for your vehicle. As this step requires pre-planning and you might need your car shipped immediately. It can take time to get a spare set of auto keys ordered and it can be very pricey too. However, the Department of Transportation requires carriers hold keys for each vehicle. Make sure you hand over ignition, trunk, or glove box keys. Do not send off your only set of keys. In the unlikely event they get lost or misplaced, you want to have a backup set. However, if you will decide to order another set of car keys before shipping you might be asked to present your driver’s license and proof of ownership to the car dealer.

15. Check the tires

Inflate tires to the recommended PSI before shipping. Car tread should be at an appropriate depth. Checking your vehicle tire pressure is important. It will be harder to load a vehicle with deflated tires. In addition if the tire has low PSI your vehicle’s rims may be damaged during loading and unloading.

16. Prepare for weather conditions

Depending on the time of year, you may need to winterize your vehicle. Make sure your car has all car’s fluids such as weather oil, anti-freeze, coolants and wiper fluid that de -ices for example. During the rainy season, secure any convertible tops.

17. Insure your vehicle

Check with your insurance company about coverage for shipping. Some insurance companies might exclude auto shipping coverage from their policy. It is better to know ahead of time and add this type of coverage to your policy if needed. This should not impact your insurance bill much. Most auto shippers will offer cargo insurance, however to have extra coverage for your vehicle is always a good idea.

18. Do not put a title in your car

Title is proof of ownership of your vehicle. Driver is not responsible for the safety of your personal belongings in a car during transport. Therefore we highly recommend not to put any valuable items in the vehicle including the vehicle’s title or registration. It is not required for your vehicle to have a license plate and even to be registered during transport.

19. Take out any items not factory installed

Before the driver arrives, remove any aftermarket accessories. Items such as stereos, speakers, back up camera, GPS, DVD systems, air fresheners. Keep your car safe on the trailer by removing any enticing accessories.

20. Alert the driver to any mechanical issues

Be sure to inform the shipping company and the driver if the car has an issue that affects normal driving. It is better for them to be aware up front than to be surprised at pick up.

21. Check the parking brake

Make sure your parking brake or emergency break is in good working order.

22. Remove any toll tags or EZ passes

Remove any EZ passes, toll tags or anything else used to pay tolls. You don’t want to risk having your pass charged during car shipping. A toll pass also has value and you want to protect it from theft.

23. Remove or lower antennas

Fold your side mirrors in, remove or lower antennas and remove any spoilers. Anything at risk for potential damage. This prepares the car for shipping and loading onto the trailer.

24. Get the Bill of Lading from the driver

At picked up, the driver will present you with a document called a Bill of Lading. This document describes any damage on the vehicle before shipment. Both you and the driver go over the condition of the car before transport and will sign it. A second Bill of Lading will be present at the destination. Again, you and the driver sign off on the condition of the vehicle after transport.

25. Keep only the factory included spare tire and jack

An auto shipper can only transport factory installed equipment on a vehicle. Make sure only the original included spare tire and jack are in the auto during shipping.

26. Attached child safety seats are fine

A child safety seat can remain in the vehicle during transport. Be sure the seat is properly installed as you don’t want it to move around the vehicle during car shipment.

27. Caps, tonneau covers and canopies

Caps, canopies, shells or similar items on a pickup truck must be properly secured or removed before transport. Canvas or vinyl tonneau covers must be either retracted and locked or removed.

28. Make sure you have enough room at the pick-up location to load the car

Loading a car requires plenty of space!
Loading a car requires plenty of space!

Door-to-door auto shippers come to your house, or location of choice, to pick up your car for shipping. Be sure there is plenty of room on your street for the truck with trailer to park and load or unload your car. There are different truck and trailer combinations available for transport. Discuss this with your shipper. If the pick up or delivery site is too tight and prohibits heavy equipment, consider using a more convenient location close to home.

29. Be patient

The trailer transports cars on highway with big city background
The trailer transports cars on highway with big city background

ShipCar24 will do their best to get your car to you in the estimated time frame. But, please be patient. Sometimes weather or road conditions can slow down the transport time. Please be assured that your vehicle will arrive as soon as it is possible.

30. Confirm the contact information

Make sure all your contact information is up to date before the driver leaves with your car. Double check the destination address and correct any errors.

Shipping your car can seem overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be. Follow the above tips  to have a peace of mind that you prepared your vehicle for transport. That way you are more protected and better equipped to take care of any situation.

Car shipping service is an efficient way to move a vehicle across the country. But you want to be sure your auto is well cared for. Make sure your car maintenance is up to date and document the condition. Prepare your car for shipping and help the driver and transport company take care of your car.

Published by Katerina Boyko
Categories: Uncategorized