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Preparing Your Vehicle for Shipment

  1. Wash the exterior. Get your vehicle squeaky clean from top to bottom. A spotless exterior is important for the next few steps of the car shipping process. If you give the car a good clean now, it saves you work upon delivery. Plus, it is always nice to have a clean car.

  2. Complete a visual inspection. Once your automobile is clean, walk around the exterior of the vehicle looking for any dents, scratches, discolorations, or paint chips. It was crucial to clean your car before inspection, as dirt, dust, and grime can hide these marks. A visual inspection is essential for noting any existing damage. It is unlikely that your automobile will become damaged in the shipping process. However, if this were to happen, you would be better prepared to recognize any possible new damage.

  3. Photograph the car for your records. In addition to noting any existing damage, you may want to photograph any scratches, dents, paint chips, etc. Take the pictures from various angles. Also, ensure that all the images are of good quality. These pictures are for your records. However, you can use the images, in combination with any notes, to assist you in completing the condition report. The pictures also act as extra insurance in case the auto transport company denies any new damage.

  4. Complete a closer inspection. You have already completed a visual inspection around the exterior of the vehicle. Now, it is time to take a closer look. Check the undercarriage for any leaks. If you see any noticeable leaks, get this taken care of as soon as possible. It may also be beneficial to note the odometer reading of your car. Your automobile should not be driven often during transport, except to get your vehicle on and off the transport truck.

  5. Carry out any necessary car maintenance. If you are transporting your operable vehicle, there are a few general car maintenance tasks that should be completed. By maintaining your vehicle, you are ensuring that it is ready to be driven once you arrive at your new home.

    Here is the car maintenance checklist: 

  • Check the fluids in the car (Oil, Brake, Engine Coolant, Power Steering, Washer).

  • Make sure the vehicle has a fully charged battery.

  • Check the tire pressure (Ensure that the tires are not over-inflated or under-inflated).

  • Empty the gas tank to 1/4 to 1/8 full.

6. Secure the car’s exterior. You will want to ensure that all the parts on the exterior of your automobile are protected during transport. Therefore, if you have any removable parts, you will want to either secure them or remove them from your vehicle altogether. This includes such items as removable ski, bike, and luggage racks. Consider retracting antennas, and folding in side-view mirrors. Consider removing any custom spoilers, as well. If you own a convertible, ensure that the top is secured enough to keep out damage from weather.

7. Remove personal items.  Clean out your automobile’s interior, including the trunk of all personal items. Do not forget to grab your GPS and car charger in the process. By removing personal items, you are decreasing the risk of theft, loss, and damage. During transport, your vehicle may move around a bit. Therefore, personal items, left in your car could get tossed around, causing unnecessary damage to your car and to the items.

8. Deactivate automatic parking passes or toll tags. Go ahead and remove automatic parking passes and toll tags. You are not going to need these items doing transport. If you leave your toll tag on your vehicle, it may collect the fees of every toll that your car passes through. That is definitely not something that you want.

9. Do not remove all items. As you were cleaning out your personal belongings from your car, you probably thought, “What is okay to leave?”. Do I have to take everything out of my car? While all personal items should be removed for insurance and safety purposes, some items can be kept in your vehicle. These items include the spare tire, emergency kit, jack, and hand tools. It is important to note to keep your license plate on your vehicle.

10. Make special notes for the driver.  Note any special quirks or mechanical problems with your vehicle. Prepare written handling instructions for the driver beforehand. Although your car will be driven minimally during auto transport, these notes will be important for driving your car on and off the carrier.


These steps may seem tedious and unnecessary to you, now. However, these steps will save you time and money in the long run. Not only will your car be ready for the arrival of the driver, but it will be ready to drive upon delivery at its destination.

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