Shipping your car can be a smooth and stress-free process when you know how to prepare it properly. Whether you’re relocating, selling a car to someone far away, or simply need to transport your vehicle over a long distance, taking the right steps beforehand is crucial. This step-by-step guide will help you prepare your vehicle for shipping, ensuring it arrives at its destination in excellent condition.

    Step 1: Clean Your Vehicle Thoroughly

    The first step in preparing your vehicle for shipping is to give it a good cleaning, both inside and out. This makes it easier to inspect for any pre-existing damage and ensures nothing inside the car gets lost or damaged.

    Exterior Cleaning

    Wash Your Car:

    • Detailed Cleaning: Wash your car thoroughly to remove dirt and grime. Pay attention to the wheels and undercarriage.
    • Inspection Visibility: A clean car makes it easier to spot any scratches, dents, or paint chips.

    Document Condition:

    • Take Photos: Capture high-resolution photos of your car from various angles. Include close-ups of any existing damage.
    • Keep Records: Note down the date and details of any visible damage. This documentation will be useful for comparison upon delivery.

    Interior Cleaning

    Clear Out Personal Items:

    • Remove Belongings: Take out all personal items, including important documents, electronics, and loose items that could move around during transport.
    • Empty Trunk: Ensure the trunk is empty or only contains essential items for transport.

    Secure Loose Parts:

    • Accessories: Remove or secure any loose accessories such as GPS devices, phone holders, and custom ornaments.

    Learn more about our car shipping services and how we ensure safe and reliable transport for your vehicle.

    Step 2: Perform Maintenance Checks

    Before shipping your car, it’s important to ensure it’s in good working condition. Performing maintenance checks can prevent potential issues during transport.

    Check Fluid Levels

    Top Off Fluids:

    • Engine Oil: Ensure the engine oil is at the proper level.
    • Coolant: Check the coolant level to prevent overheating.
    • Brake Fluid: Make sure the brake fluid is adequate for safe handling.

    Check for Leaks:

    • Inspect for Leaks: Look under the car for any signs of fluid leaks. Address any leaks before shipping.

    Battery and Tires

    Battery Health:

    • Charge Battery: Ensure the battery is fully charged and secure.
    • Check Terminals: Make sure battery terminals are clean and free of corrosion.

    Tire Pressure:

    • Inflate Tires: Check tire pressure and inflate to the recommended levels.
    • Spare Tire: Ensure the spare tire is in good condition and properly inflated.

    Explore our auto transport options for more information on our vehicle shipping services.

    Step 3: Disable Alarms and Other Devices

    To prevent unnecessary disruptions during transport, disable any alarms and anti-theft devices in your vehicle.

    Alarms and Security Systems

    Disable Alarm:

    • Turn Off Alarm: Disable the car alarm to prevent it from going off during transport. Consult your car’s manual if you need help disabling the alarm.

    Toll Tags and Parking Passes

    Remove Tags:

    • Toll Tags: Remove any toll tags or parking passes to avoid unnecessary charges.
    • Parking Permits: Take out any parking permits that could get lost or damaged.

    Step 4: Reduce Fuel Level

    It’s recommended to keep your fuel tank at about a quarter full. This helps reduce the vehicle’s weight while ensuring there’s enough fuel for loading and unloading.

    Fuel Level

    Quarter Tank:

    • Reduce Fuel: Keep the fuel tank to a quarter full to reduce weight.
    • Safety Measure: Less fuel minimizes the risk of leaks and fire hazards during transport.

    Step 5: Prepare Necessary Documents

    Having the right documents ready can streamline the shipping process and prevent any delays.


    Prepare Paperwork:

    • Bill of Lading: Ensure you have the bill of lading, which serves as a receipt and a contract between you and the shipping company.
    • Insurance Information: Keep a copy of your insurance details handy.
    • Vehicle Registration: Have your vehicle registration available if needed.

    Contact Information

    Share Details:

    • Provide Contact Info: Make sure the transport company has your correct contact information and any alternative contacts if necessary.
    • Emergency Contacts: Provide an emergency contact in case you’re unreachable during transport.

    Step 6: Inspect and Sign Off

    Before handing over your vehicle, conduct a final inspection with the carrier and ensure everything is documented properly.

    Final Inspection

    Inspect Together:

    • Joint Inspection: Walk around the vehicle with the carrier to inspect for any damages and verify the condition.
    • Documentation: Ensure all existing damages are noted on the inspection report.

    Sign Off:

    • Agree on Condition: Both you and the carrier should sign the inspection report to acknowledge the car’s condition at pickup.

    Preparing your vehicle for shipping is a straightforward process when you follow these steps. By cleaning your car, performing maintenance checks, disabling alarms, reducing fuel levels, preparing documents, and conducting a final inspection, you can ensure your vehicle is ready for a smooth and safe transport experience. For more information on our services and to get started, visit our car shipping and auto transport pages.


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