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Whether you’re shipping your car within the same country or internationally, there are common steps to prepare your car for transport. The right transport company will help you with the paperwork, but it is up to you to have your vehicle ready when it is time to move. Some companies will have a specific list of steps they want you to follow, but there are some basics you can follow. 

Moving is already stressful enough, so do yourself a favor and follow these 8 steps to prepare your car for transport. 

#1 – Wash Your Car

 

You don’t have to get your car detailed, and it’s recommended that you don’t if you are using an open truck transport, but your vehicle needs to be relatively clean before you drop it off. A clean car allows you to see minor scratches and document the current damage that would be hidden by dust. Take pictures of damage for your records. 

Do yourself a favor and clean the inside of your car while you’re at it. Any leftover food or wrappers can potentially make your car smell rotten, especially after days or weeks on a truck. 

#2 – Take Pictures of the Inside and Outside

After you wash your car, you will be able to see the small scratches or dents more clearly to catalog any damage. When the transport company takes possession of the vehicle, they will perform an inspection of their own to catalog any damage. Inform them if there is anything that doesn’t work or is a little quirky about your vehicle before you leave

Your car will not be driven much during its time with the transport company, if at all, but take pictures of the interior for the same reason as the exterior. If you are concerned about employees taking your car for a joy ride, take a picture of the odometer when you arrive to drop off your car. 

#3 – Remove Accessories and Personal Items

Any removable accessories should be stored separately or safely within the car if it is allowed. Luggage racks, stereos, and custom spoilers should be removed. You should also remove any toll tags you have in the car, as you may be charged fees even though you aren’t driving your car. If you can, remove antennas or retract them before shipping. 

Check your glove box or other storage areas for any personal items, such as parking tags, insurance cards, and other things that should not remain in your car. There is a minimal chance your car will be broken into, but take precautions by removing these items just in case. 

#4 – Empty the Gas Tank

 

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Leave about ¼ of a tank of gas in your car because extra gas can add weight to the transport vehicle, making transportation more difficult. Most transport trucks carry 5-10 vehicles at once, and if all of them had a full tank of gas, it would create a significant amount of extra weight. You only need enough gas to get to the nearest gas station after pick up. 

#5 – Disable Alarms

If your vehicle has an alarm system, disable it before you drop off your car. Your driver doesn’t want to be in the middle of transport with a car alarm that won’t turn off. Some are authorized to disable alarms by any means necessary while in the middle of the shipment process. 

#6 – Transport Insurance

Your auto transport company should offer additional insurance that covers the transporting process. This may seem like an extra expense if you already have insurance, but it is important in case of the unfortunate event that your car is damaged en route. 

Regular insurance will be there to cover any damage from natural causes such as flooding or hail, so your car is covered. 

#7 – Maintenance Check

A maintenance check is essential before shipping your vehicle. 

Some transport companies will require an inspection, where others only recommend it. A maintenance check can prevent leaks or other issues from causing significant problems after you retrieve your car. 

If your car is non-operational, let the company know before shipping. They may need special tools to put it on the truck since they can’t drive it on. Make sure your battery is charged and can stay charged throughout transport. Inflate the tires but don’t overfill them. There is a natural change in pressure when traveling which could result in a popped tire. 

#8 – Examine Your Car When You Pick it Up

After you receive your car in your new location, examine the exterior for dents, scratches, or other damage that could have been caused during transport. It is unlikely your vehicle will be damaged, but the pictures you took before dropping it off are proof if something does happen. 

Additional Information:

Prepping your car for transport is vital to shipping it to your new home, but there are a few more things to expect when transporting a car. There can be a lot of paperwork involved in shipping a car, but the right transport company will walk you through those steps. Before contacting the company, find the title, vehicle history report, and your passport if needed. 

There are many methods of transport that each have their pros and cons. The most common land transport is an open-air transport truck that carries multiple vehicles at once. Overseas, cargo ships with more than one car loaded in each container are preferred. Remember that trucks and ships come with delays, and you should be wary of companies with exact delivery dates. 

Enjoy the Ride:

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You may not be traveling alongside your car, but you can still enjoy the journey of traveling to your new home. Whether you had to move for a new job, school, or another reason, explore your new city and learn all about it. 

Many of these steps are extra precautions just in case something were to happen to your car. It is also recommended to have a spare set of keys with you on the off chance the first set is misplaced. As they say, it is better to be safe than sorry, so get the extra insurance and give yourself peace of mind.