1. Gather your vehicle’s documents before you ship a car; auto transporters will want proof that the vehicle is yours. To prevent shipment delays and last-minute file cabinet and glovebox searches, prep this paperwork in advance:
2. Wash your car—inside and out. Washing your car before shipping may seem counterintuitive, but starting with a clean vehicle allows you to see existing dust, dings, and scratches already on your vehicle—and that’ll help you catch any new damage that occurs during the car transport service. Don’t forget the car interior: wipe down surfaces and clear out the clutter so you canto starts with a fresh, clean car at your new home.
3. Document damage once your car is clean; take a walkabout to note pre-existing damage to the exterior. This includes dents, scratches, discolorations, and paint chips. (Now you see why starting with a clean car is essential.) Whether you choose affordable open transport or pricier enclosed car shipping, it’s unlikely the shipping process that the shipping process will damage your car will damage your vehicle. But it’s still wise to take pictures of your entire vehicle and document current damage for your records. That’ll make filling out the condition report easier when your car arrives. These visuals also prove your claim if the car shipping company denies responsibility for damage that occurred in transit.
4. Remove personal items you’re running low on space in your moving van; you might be tempted to stash a few heavy boxes in your car before shipping it. But that’s a big no-no. Items packed in your vehicle won’t be insured against damage or theft, and transportation companies can be fined for moving your personal belongings in your car vehicle. Instead, remove any personal or unessential items from your vehicle care. If you insist on leaving personal items in your vehicle car, be sure they’re loaded in the trunk to void sight and sun during the car transport service. It’s also essential to remove any parking passes or toll tags. If you leave a toll tag in your vehicle, you’ll be charged fees as your car travels on the transporter through tolls. Remove the label to avoid this unnecessary hike in your shipping cost.
5. Perform any necessary maintenance you’re transporting an inoperable vehicle; note when you book with the car shipping company. Since your car can’t be driven on and off the truck for cars in working condition, check it for leaks and mechanical issues, and top off any fluids. If you notice a leak, have it repaired before your car is picked up picking up your car. (You don’t want to be someone who lets their car leak oil all over the car beneath it on the transporter.) Here are a few more things to check before car shipment:* Tire pressure: Tires should be inflated appropriately (neither over- nor underinflated) on the shipment date to avoid vehicle damage.* Battery charge: Check that your car battery is fully charged.* Fluids: Top off your car’s fluids (oil, brake, coolant, power steering, and washer). Then check for leaks.* Mileage: Note your car’s mileage at pickup and delivery.
6. Empty your gas tank. Your car is being transported on a car carrier, not driven, so filling up your tank before shipment is unnecessary. Plus, extra gas means extra weight for your vehicle and car carrier, adding to your shipping cost. Instead, leave your gas tank just a quarter full. That’s enough fuel to drive it on and off the transport truck without worrying about running out.
7. Remove outside accessories: Any extras on your vehicle’s exterior can be damaged during car shipping. Protect your car—and expensive accessories—by removing or securing them before your car shipment. These items include:* Removable ski and bike racks* Rooftop boxes and luggage racks* Retractable antennas* Custom spoilers
8. Lock-up, but leave the keys. Your car will need to be driven onto the auto transporter for loading (presuming your vehicle is in working order). Still, then you can lock the vehicle care before shipment for extra insurance against theft. However, your auto transport driver may need a set of keys to your vehicle if it needs to be moved or driven off the transporter. If you don’t have a spare set, now’s a good time to make one. Don’t give the transport driver your only set of keys.
9. Sign the bill of lading. Now that your car is clean and ready for shipment, it’s time to get legal. The auto transport driver will call you before arrival to ensure you’re home and the vehicle is ready to go (unless you’ve skipped out on door-to-door shipping and opted to drop off the car instead). You or another responsible adult must be present when the driver arrives for the vehicle inspection and for signing the bill of lading. This is a legal contract between you and the car shipping company, and it acts as both a receipt and legal protection for your auto shipment.
10. Here’s what your bill of lading covers:* Where your vehicle is being shipped from and to* Condition of your car at pickup* Any mechanical or special issues with your vehicleWe know no one reads the contract, but we advise you to READ THE CONTRACT before signing. It saves headaches and hassle while assuring you and your vehicle are legally protected. You can also ask questions about payment terms (for example, What forms of payment do you accept?
When can I expect my car to be delivered?). Once your vehicle is loaded and the bill of lading is signed, that’s it! Finish packing your bags and travel to your new home. When your vehicle arrives at your new place, you’ll perform a similar inspection and signing procedure with the driver.