Ready to Ship: 8 Essential Tips to Help You Prepare Your Car for Transportation

Your bags are packed, tickets are bought, and plans are made and you are ready for the next stage of your life! Except…you still are not sure exactly how you are supposed to get your car where you’re going when you can’t drive it there.

If you’re heading out across the country or over the ocean, you have probably already downsized everything you can. It’s not a smart financial move to get rid of your car and buy one where you’re going, though. That’s pretty silly for most of us. Instead, we turn to the experts who know how to transport a car long distances.

Whatever your reason for needing to use a carrier to move your car from one place to the next, here are 8 essential tips that will help you get your vehicle ready for transport to its final destination.

8 Must-Dos When You are Preparing Your Car for Transportation


  1. Find a reputable automobile carrier. Car transport is an important process from start to finish. While most carriers have procedures in place to avoid accidents or other problems, there are lots of horror stories out there. A car is one of the biggest investments the majority of the population will make in their lives, so you want to be sure you can trust the company that’s relocating it.

Do your research and see what reputable carriers are in your area. Then, check with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to verify that each of those companies has a valid shipping business license, a solid and clean insurance record, and minimal to no complaint history.

  1. Check the rates. Reputable companies aren’t going to be the cheapest ones out there because they have standards, but they’re not going to rip you off, either. You should be receiving pretty comparable rates from each company. These rates will depend on how far you are shipping and the time of year, along with a few other factors.
  2. Choose your company and find out their requirements. After you have chosen the company you trust to transport your important possession, find out what they require you to do for preparation. There are some basics that you should do anyway, but each company has their own unique set of policies and procedures you may need to be aware of to avoid surprises down the road (literally).


  1. Clean the exterior of your car thoroughly. This sounds like a waste of time, but there’s a reason it’s on the list. When your car is dirty, it’s easy to overlook scratches or dents. If you clean it before the transport company picks it up, you can scan the car for any damages, make a note of them, and then check for any new damage when you collect your car after it was shipped.

If you go the extra step and email a copy of your listed damages to the transport company, you’ll have a record of your findings and proof that new damages were not there prior to the transport process.

  1. Clean the interior of your car, too. While this is not quite as important as your thorough analysis of the outside of your vehicle, cleaning inside the car has its reasons, as well.

No matter what form of transportation you use to move your car, it’s probably going to get bumped around a bit. The items in your car will be jostled and shuffled around and may get broken. There’s no point in taking chances, and you’ll enjoy the feeling of getting into a clean car when you do get to pick it up later.

  1. Turn off your alarm system! Sure, it may be funny to you later when they tell you the story of how your car alarm was blaring for hours and hours, but the driver transporting your vehicle is not going to be amused, and neither will anyone who is stuck near it for any period of time.
  2. Pay attention to fluids. Since you are not going to be driving the car anywhere anytime soon, there’s no reason to fill up the tank. On top of that, it’s actually dangerous for the driver to be transporting vehicles full of gas. It’s a fire hazard if there’s an accident. It also makes the load heavier and harder to transport, increasing the chances of an accident happening.

Don’t forget to look for leaks ahead of time, too. Small leaks may not be noticeable right away unless you are carefully watching for them. You’re shipping your car a good distance, so that little leak could become a big problem by the time it gets to you.

If it’s a big leak, though, the transport company has the right to – and probably will – refuse to ship your vehicle. If you see a leak starting, get it fixed before they come to collect your car. Don’t play ostrich and pretend you don’t see it, crossing your fingers they won’t. It’s their livelihood; they know how to look for these things.

  1. Secure your valuables. Maybe you’ve added fancy rims, a spoiler, or another expensive accessory to your vehicle. Or maybe you have a really nice removable GPS system or a charging port. Anything on or in your car that you don’t want to have to replace should be removed.

Don’t leave valuables inside your vehicle, even though you’re going to lock it. Your driver does not need to be responsible for your items, and, in fact, if you check the fine print, probably is not legally liable for them. Go ahead and lock your door just to be safe – but don’t forget to turn off the alarm system, first!

Say “See You Soon” to Your Vehicle

Now that you’ve done all you can to safely prepare your car for transport, the rest is in the hands of the company you thoroughly vetted and researched and put your trust in.

They’re the professionals. You chose them. Now let them do their job, and you go focus on this next, amazing phase in your life! You’ll see your car soon enough!

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