Once you decide to transport, now you have to prepare your car for shipping. Deciding what car transport trailer type to use is the first step. Timeline, budget and concern over vehicle exposure to the elements effect this decision.  Do you prefer open or enclosed transport for car shipping?  People usually transport classic cars, vintage cars, and expensive sports cars in enclosed trailers.  Prevent damage during the car shipping process using enclosed service. Open transport ships your vehicle on an open trailer. It’s the most common and budget friendly option. Before making a decision, take all factors into consideration when deciding on the shipping service. Whichever trailer you decide, preparing your car for shipping involves the same steps.

Car shipping can be daunting. To feel more comfortable preparation is key.  Listed are several detailed and useful tips.  Consider using these tips as a checklist  when preparing your car for shipping. You will feel more in control and comfortable with the shipping process. To keep your car safe from damage and secure on the trailer mark off all these items. Preparing your for car shipping gives you peace of mind. Giving you confidence your vehicle will arrive safely at the destination.

1. Check any shipper requirements

Ask if the company has any specific requirements in preparing car shipping. This depends upon the miles the car is moving or the season the move takes place. Each transport company has different requirements.  Be sure to ask to avoid any last-minute surprises.

2. Remove personal items

Remove all personal items from the inside of 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.

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.  A shiny, bright vehicle is easier to spot any scratches, dents and dings. It makes it simpler to document the condition and any noticeable wear. A full detail is not necessary.

4. Clean the interior of your car

After removal of all items, vacuum the upholstery, carpets and car mats. Wipe down all hard surfaces. Again, interior condition is easier to document when it is clean and tidy.

5. Inspect car condition

Now it’s time to go over the outside of your car. Document any scratches, dents, dings, or paint chips. Do the same for the interior of the car.  You want to know the exact condition of your car before transport.

6. Take detailed photos of the car

Take lots of pictures before shipping. You want to be sure to have evidence of your vehicle condition in the unlikely event damage occurs.

7. Document the odometer of the car

Document the odometer reading and keep it with the vehicle condition information.  Keep in mind, the carrier might have to drive your vehicle on and off the trailer several times.  During the transport, adding and removing vehicles will be necessary.  Repositioning of your car is likely to occur.

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.

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.

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.  ShipCar24 will not be responsible for damage.

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. The car must be able to start during pick up or delivery.  Non starting vehicles add unnecessary delays and potential added 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 a no fluid leaks and top off all fluids. If you tell the auto shipper the car is in good working order, it is up to you to make sure it is. If there is a leak, please notify the shipping company so they can be sure to position the car on the trailer.

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 car shipping pick up, inform the auto transport company about any special instructions.

14. Get extra keys

This step requires pre planning. It can take time to get a spare set of auto keys made. 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.

15. Check the tires

Inflate tires to the recommended PSI before shipping. Car tread should be at appropriate depth.

16. Prepare for weather conditions

Depending on the time of year, you may need to winterize your vehicle. Make sure your car has all 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 companies or policies might exclude auto shipping from regular coverage. It is better to know ahead of time and add a rider to your policy if needed. Some auto shippers might offer insurance as well.

18. Lock the car

Once the driver loads the car onto the trailer, have it locked.

19. Take out any items not factory installed

Remove any aftermarket accessories. Items such as stereos, speakers, back up camera, GPS, DVD systems. 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 effects normal driving. It is better for them to be aware up front than 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 on to 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. Consider putting a cover on the front of the car

To protect the outside of your car, consider buying a cover that goes on the front of the car. You could also purchase a windshield cover to protect from rock chips and cracks.  Or, cover the entire car with a well fitted tarp. This protects the car from paint chips, windshield cracks and sun damage.

A fitted cover helps protect your vehicle during transport.
A fitted cover helps protect your vehicle during transport.

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 trailer to park and load your car. The same goes for the delivery location. The truck and trailer is approximately 80 feet and must be able to maneuver at each location. If the pick up or delivery site is too tight, 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 estimate time frame. But, please be patient. Sometimes weather or road conditions can slow down the transport time. Please be assured your vehicle will arrive as soon as 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 and have piece 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 is a reliable and efficient way to move a vehicle, 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.