6 Easy Steps to Prepare Your Car for Shipping


Shipping your car internationally or across the country can be stressful, but with these easy steps to follow, you can check one more thing off your moving checklist. Once you have sorted out all the paperwork and are waiting to drop off your car with the auto transport company, consider doing these six steps to ensure a smooth transition.

The paperwork process to ship a car is extensive and more so when shipping a car internationally. Many things can go wrong when transporting a car, but this list will help you prevent them from causing you more of a headache.

These steps are often not required by the transport companies but are recommended to ensure proper safety and handling of your vehicle.

Here are six simple steps to prepare your car for shipping:

Wash Your Car

Wash Your Car

It may seem unnecessary to wash your car before it gets loaded onto a truck or ship, but dirt and dust can cover dents and scratches that would typically be visible. It is a good idea to wash your car just before you deliver it to the company because you will be able to better inspect it upon receipt of your car and ensure the proper handling during transport.

Clean and inspect the interior of your vehicle as well. Not only will you be able to inspect the damage inside, but it will also feel much better to have a fresh and clean car when you get in.

Take Pictures

Snap some images of the existing damage to the interior and exterior of your vehicle. If your car already has minor scratches, it can be difficult to notice new ones after receiving your car. These images will give you a reference when you inspect your car at your destination.

If you have no images of the current scratches, it can be difficult to prove that the transport company was at fault for the new damage. It is unlikely that your car will be damaged before you get it back, but the images are there, just in case.

Remove Personal/Valuable Items

Take care to remove any parking hangtags or items in the glove box you forgot about. While it is unlikely that your car will be broken into during transport, it is better to take the necessary precautions. Some drivers are allowed to disable any car alarm by any means necessary, so be sure to disable or turn off your alarm system.

If you have a toll pass in your window, remove it before your car picks up the cost of every toll road the transport truck drives on and costs you even more money. Be sure to remove any added pieces such as luggage racks or custom spoilers, if possible, to prevent damage. Remove or retract antennas and secure the roof on a convertible.

Empty the Gas Tank

This doesn’t mean that you should be running on fumes or tow it to the drop-off locations. Be sure there is about a quarter of a tank of gas, enough for the transporters to drive it onto the truck or ship and get you to the nearest gas station after you pick up the car.

It may seem like a good idea to fill the tank before you drop it off, but others will likely join your car on the truck. If they all have a full tank, that is unnecessary weight. More gas in the tank can mean higher costs, especially for large vehicles with massive tanks. The gas will only add weight to the car and is a potential hazard if it leaks in transport.

Maintenance Check

A malfunctioning car can be a hazard to those transporting, and if you find your car in a non-operational condition when you receive it, it can create more hassle. If your car is already non-operational, make sure you inform the transport company before they ship it. They may need special equipment to move it onto the truck.

Check the air pressure in your tires, and don’t overfill them. There is a natural change in pressure when you travel, and the last thing you want is a popped tire. The battery should be fully charged and able to withstand the duration of the travel without being charged. It is also a good idea to top off any fluids in your car, but leave the gas tank at a quarter full.

Extra Keys

It is one of the worst things to need to call someone to get your keys out of your car because you don’t have a spare. Take this opportunity to purchase a spare key if you don’t already have one. Not all companies will need the keys, but don’t let your car go with the only set of keys.

They probably won’t lose your car keys, but this list is all about preparing for unlikely events, so do yourself a favor and get a second set.

Hit The Road

Hit The Road

While your car is hitting the road without you there, you must prepare for the journey. You wouldn’t go on a trip without preparing for it, so do the same for your car. Many of these steps only take a few minutes to accomplish and can lead you one step closer to being ready for the trip.

There is a minimal chance that any of these steps will actually be needed, but they will give you peace of mind as your car travels without you. Similar to before you dropped off the car, many of these steps will be repeated when you are reunited with your car at your destination. Do a basic maintenance check to ensure nothing has leaked and that the tires are ready to go and not flat.

Before you take possession of the car, inspect the exterior and interior to check for damage. Once you drive it away, it is much harder to do anything about the damage caused during transport.

Lastly, you can check with the company if you are allowed to put some odds and ends boxes in the trunk that you will not need for a while if you are moving a long distance. Be sure they are weather tolerant and can handle the heat and cold.

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