How to Prepare a Car for Transport
It is important to remember that less than 5% of vehicles transported sustain any measurable damage. Minimize the risk associated with transporting your vehicle by knowing how to prepare a car for transport.
Inspect Your Car Thoroughly for Existing Damage Before Shipping
Check for and document any pre-existing damage. You can do this in a few easy steps:
- Thoroughly wash your car.
- Make a written record of any chips, dents, scratches or other cosmetic damage.
- Take pictures of the car from several angles as well as close-up shots of any damage.
- Date the photographs and written record.
- Verify that the transporter makes an official note in addition to your personal records.
Remove Custom Products and Personal Items
Your vehicle will be inspected, loaded and unloaded numerous times while being transported. For this reason, it will most likely travel unlocked. Decrease the risk of theft by removing custom stereos, after-market video and DVD players, TVs, GPS Systems, radio faceplates and detachable CD players. Ship these items separately.
Do not pack your car with personal items. Dean Xeros, an industry expert and the General Manager of uShip Motors, cites this as one of the most common mistake that people make when shipping their cars. “Your transporter will refuse to transport your car if it is packed with your personal belongings. It is the transporter’s responsibility to deliver your vehicle, not to move your personal items. In addition, vehicle transporters are not licensed to transfer goods, so doing this could result in penalties.”
Remember to remove all personal items from the interior of your car, including the trunk. An automotive transporter’s insurance will not cover any personal items inside your vehicle. These items may shift during transport and cause immense damage to your vehicle. You will be held liable if your items cause damage to another vehicle or the transport truck. Furthermore, these items will add to the weight of the vehicle, which will impact the price and speed of service.
Remove Toll Tags and Parking Passes
Remove or deactivate any toll tags or parking passes on your car. These items could be charged continually on the way to the destination. Furthermore, they are valuable and could be targeted for theft.
Prepare Your Car for Transport
Though your car will be driven minimally during the transport process, it should nonetheless be in good driving condition. According to Dean Xeros, inoperable vehicles can be shipped, but the transporter must know in advance so that they can make the proper preparations. For operable vehicles, mechanical issues can cause unforeseen delays and damages. Therefore, you should perform a maintenance check before shipping your car. Check out Dean’s list of preparations below:
- Make sure the battery has a full charge and that the tires are properly inflated.
- Top off all fluids in the car
- Run down your gas tank to a quarter or eighth full. An almost-empty tank will save weight and help keep your shipment moving along quickly.
- Keep an eye on the vehicle for a few weeks prior to shipment. If there are any leaks or mechanical problems make sure the driver knows. Vehicles with leaks should never be placed on the top rack of a multi-car carrier because they can drip on the vehicles below.
- Document mechanical problems and write down any special steps needed to drive your car on and off the trailer (including problems starting or stopping your car). Give these instructions to your driver.
Prepare for on and off loading
Prepare your car to be loaded on and off your car transporter’s truck or trailer to help them ship your car with ease. Remember, the better you prepare your car for shipment, the more likely it will arrive on time and without damage.
If you have a convertible, make sure the top is secured as thoroughly as possible to avoid damage from air, debris, or moisture. If you cannot secure the top, add extra protection with a wind-resistant tarp.
Fold back your mirrors and retract the antenna. Any specialty items, like fog lights, ground effects or spoilers should be secured or removed.
Finally, turn off or disable your car alarm. If you cannot disable the alarm, provide detailed, written instructions for the driver on how to turn off the alarm in case it is triggered.
To learn more, check out our guide of what to expect at vehicle pick-up and delivery.
Click the image below to see our complete, printable “Preparing Your Vehicle for Transport” checklist: