Preparing Your Car for Shipping: Tips and Checklist

Moving to a new place can be a daunting experience, especially when you have to move long distances. One of the major concerns is how to transport your car safely and efficiently.

This is where car shipping services come in handy. You can hire professional car shipping services to help you transport your car to your new destination. However, you need to ensure that your car is prepared for shipping to avoid any mishaps.

Preparing Your Car for Shipping

preparing your car for shipping
Image credit: Pexels

By following these tips, you can ensure that your car arrives at your new location in excellent condition.

Research Car Shipping Companies

The first step in preparing your car for shipping is to research car shipping companies. You want to ensure that you are working with a reputable company that will handle your car with care.

Here are some tips to help you find the right car shipping company:

  • Ask for Recommendations: One of the best ways to find a reliable car shipping company is to ask for recommendations from friends and family. If someone you know has recently shipped their car, ask them about their experience and if they would recommend the company they used.
  • Read Online Reviews: Another way to find a reputable car shipping company is to read online reviews. Look for reviews on popular review websites like Yelp, Google, or Facebook. Reading reviews from previous customers can give you an idea of what to expect from the car shipping company.
  • Check for Licenses and Insurance: Finally, make sure that the car shipping company you choose is licensed and insured. This will protect you in case of any damage to your car during the shipping process.

Compare Shipping Quotes

The next step in preparing your car for shipping is to compare shipping quotes from different car shipping companies. This will help you choose a company that fits your budget and offers the services you need. Here are some tips to help you compare shipping quotes:

Request Quotes from Multiple Car Shipping Companies: To get an accurate idea of the cost of shipping your car, you should request quotes from multiple car shipping companies. This will help you compare prices and choose the best option for you.

Compare Services Offered and Costs: When comparing quotes, make sure to compare the services offered by each company as well as the costs. Some companies may offer additional services that could be useful, such as door-to-door delivery or enclosed transport.

Beware of Hidden Fees: Make sure to ask about any hidden fees that may not be included in the initial quote. Hidden fees can add up quickly and make the shipping process more expensive than you anticipated.

Choose the Right Type of Transport

The next step in preparing your car for shipping is to choose the right type of transport. There are two main types of transport: open and enclosed.

Open vs. Enclosed Transport

  • Open transport is the most common and affordable type of transport. It involves shipping your car on an open-air trailer. This is a good option if you are looking to save money on shipping costs.
  • Enclosed transport, on the other hand, involves shipping your car in an enclosed trailer. This is a more expensive option, but it provides more protection for your car during transit. This is a good option if you are shipping a high-value car or a classic car that requires extra protection.

Terminal-to-Terminal vs. Door-to-Door

  • You also need to decide whether you want terminal-to-terminal or door-to-door shipping. Terminal-to-terminal shipping involves dropping off and picking up your car at designated terminals.
  • Door-to-door shipping, on the other hand, involves having the car picked up and delivered to your doorstep. Door-to-door shipping is more convenient but can be more expensive than terminal-to-terminal shipping.

Pros and Cons of Each Option

  • When choosing between open and enclosed transport, and terminal-to-terminal or door-to-door shipping, consider the pros and cons of each option. Open transport is more affordable but provides less protection for your car.
  • Enclosed transport is more expensive but provides more protection. Terminal-to-terminal shipping is less expensive but less convenient, while door-to-door shipping is more convenient but more expensive.

Clean Your Car Inside and Out

Before shipping your car, it’s important to clean both the interior and exterior of your car. Here’s what you should do:

  • Wash the Exterior and Wheels: Wash the exterior of your car to remove any dirt or debris. Pay special attention to the wheels and undercarriage, as these areas tend to collect a lot of dirt and grime.
  • Vacuum and Clean the Interior: Vacuum the interior of your car to remove any dirt or debris. Clean the dashboard, seats, and any other surfaces with a gentle cleaner. Remove any personal belongings from the car, including GPS devices, chargers, and other accessories.
  • Document Your Car’s Condition: Before shipping your car, you should document its current condition. This will help you prove any damage that occurs during transit. Here’s what you should do:
  • Take Photos and Videos of Your Car:  Take photos and videos of your car from all angles. Make sure to take close-up shots of any existing damage, including scratches, dents, or other imperfections.
  • Note Any Pre-Existing Damage: Make a note of any pre-existing damage on a piece of paper. Include the date and time of the inspection, as well as the condition of the car.
  • Share with the Car Shipping Company: Share the photos, videos, and notes with the car shipping company. This will help them understand the condition of your car before shipping.

Check Your Car’s Fluids and Battery

Before shipping your car, you should also check its fluids and battery. This will help ensure that your car is in good condition during transit.

  • Top off All Fluids: Check your car’s oil, coolant, brake fluid, and transmission fluid levels. Top off any fluids that are low.
  • Check Battery Charge and Condition: Make sure that your car’s battery is fully charged and in good condition. If your’s tire pressure and make sure it is at the recommended levels. This will help prevent any damage to the tires during transit.

Disable Your Car Alarm

If your car has an alarm system, make sure to disable it before shipping your car. This will prevent the alarm from going off during transit and causing any unnecessary disruptions.

  • Turn Off or Disable Your Car Alarm: Find out how to turn off or disable your car alarm and do so before shipping your car. You should also provide instructions to the car shipping company on how to turn off or disable the alarm.

Prepare Your Car for Loading and Unloading

Before your car is loaded onto the transport vehicle, there are a few things you need to do to prepare it.

  • Leave Only 1/4 Tank of Gas: To reduce the weight of your car, it’s recommended to leave only 1/4 tank of gas in the car. This will also reduce the risk of any fuel leaks during transit.
  • Remove Any Loose or Aftermarket Parts: Remove any loose parts or aftermarket accessories from your car. These can become damaged during transit and may even damage other vehicles on the transport trailer.
  • Disable or Remove Any Toll Tags: If you have any toll tags or transponders in your car, make sure to disable or remove them before shipping your car. This will prevent any unnecessary toll charges during transit.

Prepare Necessary Documents

Finally, before shipping your car, make sure you have all the necessary documents in order.

  • Vehicle Registration and Insurance: Make sure you have a copy of your car’s registration and insurance documents. These may be required by the car shipping company.
  • Bill of Sale or Proof of Ownership: If you recently purchased your car, make sure to have a copy of the bill of sale or proof of ownership. This will help prove that you are the legal owner of the car.
  • Shipping Contract and Payment: Make sure to read and understand the shipping contract before signing it. You should also have your payment ready before your car is shipped.

Hand Over Your Car to the Shipping Company

When it’s time to hand over your car to the shipping company, there are a few things you need to do.

  • Meet with the Driver: When the driver arrives to pick up your car, make sure to meet with them in person. This will give you a chance to go over the condition report and ask any questions you may have.
  • Review the Condition Report: Go over the condition report with the driver and make sure you both agree on the condition of your car before it’s loaded onto the transport vehicle.
  • Confirm Delivery Details: Make sure to confirm the delivery details with the driver, including the estimated delivery date and time. You should also exchange contact information in case you need to reach the driver during transit.


How far in advance should I prepare my car for shipping?

It’s recommended to prepare your car for shipping at least two weeks in advance.

Can I leave personal items in my car during shipping?

It’s recommended to remove all personal belongings from your car before shipping to prevent any damage or theft.

What happens if my car gets damaged during shipping?

If your car gets damaged during shipping, you should contact the car shipping company immediately to file a claim.

Can I track the progress of my car shipment?

Most car shipping companies offer a tracking service that allows you to track the progress of your car shipment.

How do I choose the right car shipping company?

To choose the right car shipping company, you should research multiple companies, read online reviews, and compare quotes and services offered. You should also make sure that the company is licensed and insured.

Your Car’s Journey Starts with Preparation

Shipping your car can be a nerve-wracking experience, but with the right preparation, you can help ensure that your car arrives at your new destination safely and without damage. From researching car shipping companies to documenting your car’s condition, there are many steps you can take to prepare your car for shipping.

By following this comprehensive checklist of tips, you can make sure that your car’s journey starts with the best possible preparation.

Jasper has been an enthusiast of the automotive and IT industries since the age of 16. He independently writes on the auto industry's recent happenings.