Best Tips on How to Prepare Your Car for Shipping

January 10, 2020Car Shipping Essentials
Eva Johnson

Digital nomad born in New York but currently living online, Eva knows everything there is to know about packing and moving.

If you’re about to transport your beloved four-wheeler to a different city or state, you should know how to prepare a car for shipping to make the whole process as smooth as possible and to avoid any unpleasant surprises.

It all starts with choosing the right method of transport, regardless of whether you decide to hire professionals for the job or go for some other option. If you opt for a shipping company, choose the one that will have all the options covered and that has several years of experience in the business. This is where the price should not be your guide, but reliability and expertise.

But the question is how to prepare your car for shipping before giving it to your chosen company? Here are some handy tips on how to go about this job.

Prepare Your Car for Shipping by Checking for Damage

If you are shipping an inoperable car, you have to disclose that when booking a company. If it is in operating condition, check it for potential mechanical issues or leaks, potential damage, and inform the shipper accordingly, as they might have to take some precautions after you prepare it for shipping. The basic check-up includes checking the fluids, tires, battery charge and mileage.

A man next to his car checking the tire
Be sure to check your automobile before you hand it over to a shipper.

Don’t Forget to Wash Your Car

Before shipping your car cross country, it is advisable to wash your automobile, as you can notice certain dents or scratches, paint chips or discoloration only on a clean vehicle. Cars can get damaged during cross-country transport, so it is crucial to be aware of the already existing scratches. Once you determine the shipping date, arrange for the automobile to be washed prior to it and inspect it carefully.

Think About Gas and Spare Keys

You have to reduce the level of gas in the gas tank to ¼ of its capacity. There are a few reasons for this. Firstly, a full tank of gas will make your vehicle weigh more and add a burden to the carrier, potentially increasing your transport costs. Secondly, more gas means more chance of unwanted combustion and this is why the law prescribes this no matter where you ship your car. You don’t need a full tank anyway as you will be driving your automobile only to the carrier and you can fill it at the first gas station once you take the vehicle over.

Next, be sure to bring both sets of keys, or if you only have one, have an extra set made before you ship your automobile, as you have to give them to the shipper to drive the automobile on and off the truck. It is not advisable to give the shipper your only set of keys.

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Take Photos of Existing Damage

It may be prudent to take photos of your vehicle, noting all the existing dents and scratches, and include them with the automobile record and mark them on the Bill of Lading, so your carrier cannot dispute any new damage that might occur during transport. If you want to get open-trailer auto services, then you should definitely document your automobile’s condition. For those who go for the enclosed trailer auto services, it’s still advisable to take photos of your machine, but the chances of it getting damaged are lower.

the person taking a picture of the car
Check your automobile for damage and take photos of anything you find.

Remove Any Personal Belongings, Flammable Items or Custom Products

Although there are certain things you can keep in your car, it is crucial to remove all valuables items from your vehicle before you ship it. This includes custom products, such as stereos, GPS systems, etc. The most important product to remove is a toll tag, as it may get charged when passing through the tolls and eventually, you may end up with an empty toll tag.

If you cannot remove the alarm system, make sure you disable it so it does not keep sounding, as the shipper is entitled to disable it himself any way he can. Also, if shipped abroad, your vehicle will have to go through customs, and any valuables left inside might get confiscated. Flammable items should also be removed due to the potential danger of fire or explosion.

person writing in notebook
Be sure you remove all of your belongings, as well as any flammable objects you may have in your automobile.

Secure Loose Parts

While you check if your machine has any pre-existing damage, you should look for any loose parts, especially on your auto’s exterior. This includes removing your antenna or retracting it, folding your rearview mirrors in and removing any additional custom parts, such as an added spoiler. If you have a convertible, you should fully cover it and secure it to avoid any damage.

car interior
Check if you have any loose parts and secure them in place.

Book Your Auto Transport Services

You should book your auto transport services well in advance if possible, as you may get a lower price and it will give you enough time to make all the necessary arrangements. Obviously, the price will also depend on other factors, such as the weight and the size of your vehicle, but you can still reap some benefits by booking on time.

Also, when choosing a shipper, you should not opt for the cheapest one, as it usually turns out that they lack insurance, experience or proper safety equipment. Instead, choose a reputable company that will guarantee high-quality service. And make sure you inform yourself about how car shipping works, so you know what questions to ask.

moving truck with open trailer
Get auto transport services and wait for your machine at your new home.

Consider Each Relocation Scenario Before Booking

Some research indicates that around 80% of relocations happen from April to September, making these months the peak season for carriers. That means the demand is high, particularly in June, July, and August, causing difficulties in finding the right shipper and increasing the amount of money needed to ship your car. The same applies to holidays. Summer may be a good time for moving from the standpoint of weather, but not from the financial perspective.

Leave Your Items in Storage and Ship Your Vehicle to Your New Home

Renting storage is a good option if you have a significant amount of additional stuff to move with your car, and there are various containers to choose from. It is important for them to be protected from leaking and pests and resistant to severe weather conditions.

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