How To Prepare Your Car For Shipping

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How To Prepare Your Car For Shipping
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Not matter if you are shipping your vehicle within or outside the country, you need to be sure that you have to get it fully ready for the journey.

Immediately you are provided your car shipping quotes and decided on the best car shipping company to ship your vehicle; secure your car shipping with the following steps. 

10 Tips to get the Car ready for Shipping

Before we share the tips to prepare your car for shipping, you need to know the several benefits of getting your car ready for shipping.

  • Lowering the risk of damage to your car’s interior and exterior parts
  • Preventing delays during customs and several other inspections
  • Saving your time and money from being spent on replacing or repairing parts of your vehicle.

Below are some of the tasks you should perform to get your car ready for shipping:

1. Compile your Car’s Documents

Auto-shipping companies will require proof that you own the car before they ship your car. Get the following paperwork available to prevent having delays in your shipment and last-minute searches through file cabinet and drawers: 

  • Car registration information
  • Insurance proof
  • Bill or other proof of sale as the vehicle owner
  • Original vehicle title
  • Your valid identification, such as a passport or driver’s license. 

2. Carry out Essential Maintenance as required

If the car inoperable, be sure to notify your transporter that your vehicle you plan to ship is inoperable and can’t be driven onto and off the transport truck.

Cars in functional condition should be checked for leaks, any mechanical faults, and top off the fluids as required. Be sure to repair any leak before your car is picked up in case you suspect any leakage.

You don’t want your car’s oil to spill all over the vehicles loaded under it on the truck.

Below are some more things to inspect before shipping your car: 

  • Tire pressure: Make sure the tires are well inflated (not under or excessively inflated) on the shipping date to avoid truck damage.
  • Battery charge: Inspect your battery and make sure it is fully charged. This is so important when shipping vehicles to another country. You may be charged an additional fee if your vehicle is inoperable when the vehicle shipper needs to unload the car off the moving truck. 
  • Fluids: Top the fluids of your car, such as coolant, brake, washer, oil, and power steering, and check for any leaks. 
  • Mileage: Note down the mileage of your car at pickup and delivery.

3. Wash your Car

It is easy for dings, dents, and scratches to hide under dirt and dust. Deeply wash your car before your shipping company arrives for pickup. You will easily notice any possible damage to your cleaned car during shipping once it gets to its destination.

Remember the inside of the car, wipe all surfaces down and clear out debris so you can have a fresh start with your car at your new home.

4. Don’t fill up the Tank

There is no reason to fill up gas in your car before loading because it will be shipped, not driven. Also, a full tank of gasoline increases the weight of your car, and this can add to the cost and risk of the shipment. Reduce the fuel in the tank to the minimum possible when getting your car ready for shipping.

5. Remove Personal Items

If there is not much space left in your moving van, you might decide to pack some few heavy moving boxes in your vehicle before transporting it. But don’t try this.

There will be no insurance on items loaded in your vehicle against theft or damage, and auto shipping companies can get penalized for relocating your household items in your vehicle. Instead, bring out any personal or unimportant belongings from your car. These include:

  • Charging cables
  • Water bottles
  • GPS devices
  • Sunglasses
  • Old Chap sticks and trash
  • Insurance information and other means of identification

If you are not backing off from leaving personal belongings in your car, make sure they are kept in the trunk to keep them away from being seen and from the sun while the car is being shipped.

It would be best if you also got rid of any toll tags and parking passes. Having a toll tag in your car will get you charged fees as your vehicle is transported across tolls. Remove the tags to avoid being charged this unnecessary fee on your shipping cost.

However, you have to leave some things. Leave your spare tire, jack, emergency kit, and license plate in your car in case they are needed.

6. Remove External Accessories

Any attachment on the exterior of your car can be damaged during vehicle shipping. Protect your vehicle and valuable accessories by removing or keeping them safe before your car transport. They include: 

  • Ski and bike racks (removable type)
  • Retractable antennas
  • Custom spoilers
  • Rooftop boxes and luggage racks. 

7. Inspect your Fluids’ Level and for any Leaks

It is essential to hammer this again. Inspect for any leaking fluids such as battery fluid, oil, brake, engine coolant, etc., and reduce your gas tank. If you observe any leaking fluid out of your car, be sure to fix it before the shipping day.

This is because your vehicle’s performance can be affected, and the engine damaged due to fluids overflow. 

Pro Tips

Pro Tip

Prevent leakage of fluid by reducing fluid levels in the expansion tank. This will enable the expansion of the air and antifreeze in the system with increasing temperatures and pressure. You won’t have any issues with this set and when you receive your vehicle at your new home.   

8. Document Damage

Immediately after your car is clean, walk around the car to record any pre-existing damage to the external parts. This may include paint chips, scratches, discolorations, and dents. All of these will be clear when your car is clean.

Regardless of the cost of the shipping method you choose (enclosed is costly than the open carrier), your car is mostly safe from damage. But it will still be a great move to take pictures of your car and note current damage for your reference.

That will ensure you can fill the condition report when you receive your car delivery. These photos also serve as evidence of your claim if there is any damage to your vehicle caused by the car shipper during transit.

9. Lock the Car, but leave the Keys

There will be a need to drive your car to the autotransporter for loading, but you also need to lock the car before transporting for more protection against theft. However, your auto shipping driver may require a set of keys to your car in case they need to move or drive it off the truck.

If you can’t provide a spare set, you need to make one before the move. Do not leave the only set of keys with the shipment driver.   

10. Sign the Bill of Lading and Bid Farewell

You now need to go legal after cleaning and preparing your car for transport. The auto-shipment driver will contact you before they come to make sure you are available, and the car is ready to be shipped (unless you choose another shipping method and not door-to-door shipping).

You or another adult you assigned must be available when the shipment driver arrives to perform the vehicle inspection and signing of the bill of lading. This is a legitimate contract between you and the vehicle shipper, and it doubles as a receipt as well as legal protection for your car. Below are the things covered by your bill of lading:

  • Location and destination of your vehicle shipping
  • Your car’s condition at pickup
  • Any other issues with your car.

We understand most people don’t read the contract; our advice is that you should read the contract before you sign. Doing so will save you from headaches and stress while making sure you and your care are legally protected. You can also ask them about payment terms, such as the forms of payment they accept and when you should expect your car’s delivery.

Immediately your vehicle is loaded, and you signed the bill of laden, you can complete your bags and move to your new space. When you receive your vehicle at your new place, you will do the same inspection and singing step with the shipment driver. 


Since you now know how to get your vehicle ready for shipping and the requirements to ship a car, yet if you want to know how your car is maintained, we suggest you read more guides on vehicle shipping. If you also need a reliable out of state moving company for your move, check our network of out of state movers.

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