7 Steps to Prepare Your Car for Shipping: A Simple Roadmap

Posted on
5 min to read

Shipping your car is easier than ever thanks to professional auto transporters, but it does require some preparation on your part. Preparing your car for transport makes the transport process simple and safe for you and the trucker handling your shipment. As you get ready to ship your car, use this blog as a guide so you can enjoy a stress-free auto transport experience. 

Step 1: Wash your car

Washing your car is a simple but important step to prepare it for shipping. A thorough wash will reveal any scratches, dents or paint chips that may be hidden under dirt or grime. This helps the carrier do a proper inspection of the vehicle prior to shipping. It’ll also make your car look great!

Step 2: Inspect your vehicle thoroughly

After your car is clean, inspect it for any existing damage. Documenting these damages will help you tell the difference between pre-existing and new damages. Consider taking photos of the damage and record the date to keep track of your car’s condition before shipping. While damage during transit is very rare, this inspection will help you keep track of anything that might occur.

Step 3: Remove valuables

Truckers take every precaution to keep your vehicle safe during transit but are not responsible for personal items in the vehicle. For greater safety and peace of mind, remove all personal belongings or vehicle add-ons before transit. Don’t forget to remove toll tags as well. If your car has a custom alarm system, make sure to disable it to avoid unnecessary disruptions during transit.

Step 4: Remove or secure loose parts

Loose or removable exterior parts like off-roading lights and racks pose a risk during transportation and can add cost to the shipment due to their modified height. Remove or secure these parts before transit for the safety of your vehicle and the other vehicles on the carrier. If your car is a convertible, make sure the top is secure to prevent damage from elements or road debris.

Step 5: Perform a maintenance check before shipment

Check for mechanical issues before shipment to avoid unexpected issues at delivery. Your vehicle must be able to roll, break and steer under its own power. Make sure to tell the transport provider if your car has specific problems prior to pickup. If your vehicle is inoperable (cannot be driven) or has other mechanical issues, specialized equipment may be needed to transport it.

Key maintenance checks include:

  • Oil and coolant levels
  • Tire pressure and tread
  • Battery charge

If you notice any leaks, be sure to have them fixed before shipping as these issues could potentially cause a hazardous situation during transit. It’s also smart to record the mileage on your car prior to pickup and again at the delivery location. Keep in mind that the truckers do need to load and unload your vehicle multiple times throughout the shipment. Some minor additional mileage may be recorded on your vehicle upon delivery.

Step 6: Check vehicle fuel level

Keep your car light by making sure your gas tank is only 1/4 full before shipping. When transporting your car, the trucker needs just enough fuel to drive your car on and off their trailer. A full tank of gas adds significant weight, which can affect the safety and efficiency of the shipment.

If you’re driving an EV, make sure your battery charge is between 45-65% and that you include the charging cables. Manufacturers recommend lithium batteries to have no more than 50% battery charge for the safety of shipping and handling.

Step 7: Have an extra set of keys

You’ll need to provide keys to the trucker during the shipment so they can load and unload your vehicle. Truckers will also occasionally need to rearrange the vehicles on their car carrier during transit. It’s always smart, but not required to have a backup set of keys in case one is lost or misplaced.

By following these steps, your vehicle will be ready for a smooth journey to its destination. Double-check your preparations and make sure that your car is ready for shipping. To recap: Start by washing and inspecting your vehicle, then remove any personal items. Do an overall vehicle check and remember to communicate any issues with your truck driver. And before you hand over the keys, it’s recommended to get an extra set, just in case!

Frequently asked questions

How do I prepare my car for shipping?

We suggest the car is clean so any existing damage is fully visible. Remove any personal items, especially anything of value. Disable any kind of security system that could give the trucker trouble when loading or unloading the vehicle and remove automatic toll tags to avoid undue fees. Finally, try to leave a quarter tank of gas in the vehicle to be sure there is enough for loading and unloading but not so much to add extra weight. 

How much does it cost to ship a car?

There are several factors that go into your car shipping costs, including: 

  • Total travel distance
  • Pickup and delivery locations
  • Shipping dates and seasonality
  • Trailer type (open or enclosed)
  • Vehicle make, model and year

Learn more about car shipping costs, or use our free quote calculator for an instant estimate. 

Is car shipping safe?

Yes, car shipping is a safe and dependable process. Hundreds of thousands of customers use car shipping services every day, along with car dealerships and manufacturers. 

Just like driving your vehicle, auto transport can expose your car to the elements and road debris, but it does not present any serious threat to your vehicle. While most cars are safely moved on open trailers, some vehicle owners prefer enclosed trailer transport for an added level of protection. Enclosed transport is popular for transporting classic cars and luxury vehicles.

Can I pack personal belongings in my car during shipping?

When you ship your car with Montway, you can include one suitcase or one bag containing personal possessions free of charge. The items must be confined to the trunk or storage area of the vehicle, remaining below window level and seats must remain in their upright position. The total weight of personal items must not exceed one hundred pounds (100 lbs). Some restrictions may apply, for example, when your vehicle must be shipped by boat to states like Alaska and Hawaii.

How long does it take to ship a car?

The time it takes to ship a car mainly depends on the overall distance it needs to travel. It may also be impacted by seasonal demand, weather conditions and unexpected hazards on the road. Learn more about delivery time estimates

Can I track the progress of my car during transportation?

For the most accurate, real-time location information on your shipment, directly contact your carrier for updates, email info@montway.com or start a live chat.

Montway Auto Transport is one of the nation’s top-rated auto transport companies. With one million satisfied customers and over 90,000 online reviews, our dedication to quality speaks for itself. Our extensive carrier network is equipped to ship cars, trucks, SUVs and specialty vehicles in all 50 states. Ready to ship your car? Get started with a free instant quote or call 888-666-8929.

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