If you’ve started the moving process, we know that you have a long list of things to do. And while they may seem never-ending, the joy of settling in and exploring your new neighborhood can be exciting! But, in the scenario where you cannot drive your vehicle to your new place, how do you get it there?

You’ve definitely looked for ways to transport your car to your new place which does not involve driving. One of the first options that comes up and people generally use is transporting cars by carriers. While these auto shipping companies take care of the transit process for you, there are a few things you need to do before you hand your car over.

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So, we’ve compiled a list of car shipping prep tips to get you started, and they won’t take too much time either!

1. Give Your Car’s Interior A Good Declutter and Clean

Heard this too many times? It’s obvious but it’s also essential. Think of it as starting with a new slate. Just like you might have decluttered your house before packing for your move, you must do the same with your car. This is especially true of those cars that we’ve been using for a few years because they’ll definitely have knick-knacks all around.

Remove everything from cable chargers, tissues, air fresheners, and accessories that you added after you bought the car. One of the main reasons why we suggest taking everything out is because the items inside your car are not covered by insurance. At the same time, while your car is being transported, there’s a likelihood of some bumps along the road and you don’t want anything to break or cause damage inside the car.

So, don’t even leave behind luggage racks, bicycle racks, and custom spoilers. After this, use a hand vacuum and clean the places that you can’t wipe down yourself. Remember to do this before your car is picked up so that you’re not driving around and dirtying the interior again!

Can you leave stuff in your car when you ship it?

Yes, you can, but it’s not recommended, since there is a risk of theft. Most shipping companies will allow you to keep up to 100lbs of personal belongings in your car but not more.

2. Wash Your Car

You saw this coming. Maybe you’ve chosen to ship your car via open transport and you’re wondering why washing your car is necessary because it’s going to get dirty anyway right? It is, but that’s not why washing your car is a must.

Once you wash your car, looking for dents, scratches and other damages on the external body of the car will be easier. That way, when your driver arrives to inspect your car before it’s transported, an accurate mention can be made of the necessary information. You can even start making a note about the same yourself if you have the time prior to the pickup date.

3. Take A Hoard Of Pictures

We don’t mean taking pictures of yourself with your car! You can do that of course, but what we mean is documenting the scratches and dents on the external body of your car. Even though you might make a note of no damages, sometimes your auto transport company might deny any responsibility for new damages incurred during transit. Visuals of your car act as proof, and trust us; it’ll make things a whole lot if there are problems later. So, get that camera out and get snapping!

Is It Safe To Ship A Car?

Yes! Depending on the type of transport you choose, enclosed transport is safer than transporting your car through open transport. But at the same time, all options are safe unless you consider scenarios like theft that rarely happen.

See also: How Do I Transport my Car Cross Country

4. Disable Your Alarms

Ever get frustrated when someone’s car alarm goes off and you can’t do anything about it but wait for the owner to stop it? A very small thing that we all forget to do is disabling our car’s alarms before it’s picked up for transportation. You don’t want any alarm to go off in the middle of transit because it’ll be a hard job for the driver to shut it.

5. Get Your Documents In Order

We mean it when we say that this is one step you shouldn’t keep for the last minute. Even though it might not seem like a huge deal, especially if you’re someone who likes to stay organized, missing documents can cause a lot of confusion and delays. So gather the following documents and put them in a single folder:

  • Your car’s insurance
  • Original title and proof of registration
  • Your ID has to be unexpired (it can be your driver’s license or even your passport)
  • Proof that you own the car like a bill of sale.

When it comes to insurance, check with your auto shipping company if the insurance will apply or not. Since a car is an expensive item, any damages that are caused due to natural hazards like storms or floods will be taken care of by your insurance.

While these are basic documents that are mandatory, don’t forget that if you’re shipping your car abroad or getting it transported from another country, you will require many other documents and permits. So, confirm the same with your auto transport company and keep them all in check.

Tip: Keep photocopies of all your original documents ready. You can also scan and keep a digital copy on your phone or email address in case any of it gets misplaced in the hullabaloo of moving.

6. Inspect Essential Systems

Before the day of your pickup, make sure to run a maintenance check on your car to see that all essential systems are functioning. Even though your car is not being driven all the way,

  • Steering Wheel
  • Window and door on the driver’s side
  • Engine
  • Battery Charge (make sure it’s fully charged)
  • Tires (Check that they’re inflated to the right amount. If not, your tires might suffer damage.)

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7. Check For Leaks

It’s extremely important that you check for leaks because it can result in a hazard for the driver during transit. Any fluid leak if major can result in the driver not agreeing to load your car onto the carrier. So, if it’s a small leak, inform the driver and get it fixed before the car gets loaded. Also, you wouldn’t want your car’s fluid to leak on another car that’s been placed under yours in an open carrier.

How much does it cost to fix a car leak?

While it will only cost you $20 to change a filter when there’s a small leak, a new gasket can cost you around $200. However, if there are major damages, you can expect to spend $1,000 and upwards.

Should I worry about a small oil leak?

Yes, you should, as the leak can increase, and repairing it at a later date will cost much higher than if you would have just repaired it at the beginning!

See also: How Much Does it Cost to Ship a Car| Cost of Shipping a Car Across the Country

8. Let Your Gas Tank Have ¼ Part Fuel

Yes, just a fourth part gas. That’s all there needs to be in your car’s gas tank. Your auto shipping transporter is not going to drive your car except to load and unload it onto the carrier. At the same time, gas just makes your vehicle heavier, so it’s best to not go over a quarter in the tank.

9. Lock Your Car

Yes, you read that right, lock your car once you’re done with all the above steps and it’s loaded onto the carrier. Your driver will not need to use the keys for anything so it’s best to lock it to protect it against theft. At the same time, you can leave the keys with the driver of the carrier if your car is going to be shipped to another transporter or handed over to someone who doesn’t have a set of keys.

Tip: Have a set of spare keys to the car with you. If you don’t have one then it’s time you get one made.

10. Remove Or Deactivate Toll Tags

Your car isn’t going to need any of the tags because it’s going to be placed on a carrier or a trailer. If your car has toll tags, it’s the carrier’s driver who will be harassed for payments at random checkpoints. So, avoid all the hassle and take it all out!

11. The Final Step – Sign A Bill Of Lading

You must have already heard about a Bill of Lading which you’re usually required to sign at the pickup and drop off. For those of you who haven’t heard of it before, it’s a contract that mentions various things that also includes the condition of your vehicle before pickup, any issues your vehicle has, and the drop-off destination. A Bill of Lading is a very important document, so make sure the shipping company you’ve contacted offers the same.

THE SMART WAY TO BUDGETHow much will it cost to ship my car?

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Frequently Asked Questions

How much do you tip a car shipper?

Tipping is something that will vary from person to person, but it can be anywhere between 10% and 20% of the total bill amount; however, a tip as low as 5% can be a considerable amount if you are moving long distance.

Can you negotiate car shipping?

You can’t really negotiate car shipping prices at all – For every company who offers “negotiations,” usually there’s also an alternative “base rate” with exactly no wiggle room for discounting whatsoever.

What to check before shipping a car?

Here are a few things to check before shipping your car:

Safety Features – check them all. If there are any doubts, you should go to a professional mechanic to see if anything needs replacing, fixing up, or simply checking for safety issues.

Documents (Keys) – ensure the car key is completed with everything you need to access your vehicle, like charger keys and remotes.

Personal Items – make sure there are no personal items in the car that will be visible during transit.

How Safe Is Car Shipping?

The more precautions you take, the less likely that your car will be damaged or stolen. Here are some simple ways to keep it safe during transport: Wrap windows in tarpaulins before loading up to minimize window-smashing; this is especially important on highways where there could be large vibrations caused by passing trucks -use enclosed trailers whenever possible because these provide better protection against outside elements like sun exposure and weather changes; if an open cargo hold must exist, make sure they’re secured tightly with restraining straps.

How do I inspect my car before my last delivery?

Check for dents, scratches, or marks on all parts of the exterior. Look at color shades differentiating between panels like a hood (painted), roof, etc., if any change in them, then report immediately; same goes with the air conditioner working correctly; otherwise, there may be issues due to CO2 buildup inside, which could lead not only serious health complications but also financial loss as well since those come from expensive repairs so take care! Pay attention to lamp lights such as brake lights, etc. Make sure everything else works just fine, too–including the music system.

What insurance covers car shipping?

Auto transport companies are required by law to have coverage for the cars they’re transporting. Most of these firms offer liability and cargo protection, which means your vehicle will be covered in case it gets damaged during transit- though you might want to check that out before making a purchase!


Prepping your car to ship is just a small task in the entire process. While the steps might seem like a lot, it really isn’t, and once you’re done with them, you’ll definitely thank yourself! All the steps will ensure that your car is good to go on the day of the pickup, and we can assure you that you won’t run into any unnecessary confusion at the last moment.

See also: Best Car Shipping Companies in the U.S. | How To Ship A Car By Train? | Car Shipping Deals and Discounts