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How Clean Does Your Car Have to Be to Ship?

What's in this article?
  1. What Is Auto Transport?
  2. How Clean Do You Have To Keep Your Car?
  3. What Else Should Be Cleaned?
  4. Interior Details
  5. Preparation For Shipping
  6. Personal Items Removal
  7. Mechanical Check-Up
  8. Secure The Vehicle
  9. Emergency Brake Check And Disconnect
  10. Quarter Tank Of Gas Or Less
  11. Insurance Coverage
  12. Services For Cleaning Cars
  13. Will Your Car Be Refused If It's Dirty?
  14. Final Thoughts
How Clean Does Your Car Have to Be to Ship?

Sending a car caked with debris and mud is, of course, doable. But wouldn't you rather ship a pristine and polished car?

So before sending off your prized possession into the bowels of an auto transport carrier, it's definitely best to clean it first.

Together, we'll explore and go over all the requirements that must be satisfied before an auto transport carrier welcomes it aboard.

Below we'll also discuss what conditions require special cleaning to get the job done right.

What Is Auto Transport?

Auto transport is the process of transporting a vehicle from one location to another via a transporter, usually using specialized car carriers.

Automobiles, trucks, boats, and recreational vehicles, can all use this industry to be shipped around the globe.

The auto shipping process loads vehicles onto open-air or enclosed carriers, which a driver can then drive to the final destination. The auto transport industry often serves long-distance moves whenever a vehicle needs to be shipped overseas.


How Clean Do You Have to Keep Your Car?

The short answer is that your car should be clean before shipping. The carriers expect you to have the vehicle in a presentable condition with no dirt, debris, or other signs of neglect.

If your vehicle is particularly dirt-covered, cleaning it before shipping may be necessary. This cleaning may include vacuuming the interior, steam cleaning the carpets, and washing the exterior.

Any dirt or debris left on a vehicle can damage the carrier's equipment and cause problems with other vehicles on the transporter.

What Else Should Be Cleaned?

Alongside good general hygiene for your car, be sure to pay a little more attention to a few other things. This extra attention includes the tires, wheel wells, and undercarriage.

Tires should be nice and clean, free of mud or debris. Wheel wells should be spotless and wiped clean, and the undercarriage should be power washed and degreased. You should also clean off any grease or oil on the vehicle before shipping.

Interior Details

Get the interior of the car thoroughly inspected before shipping. Make sure to take away any items that are yours, such as electronics, documents, or clothing. Remove any consumable items, such as food and beverages, to prevent any nasty smells from rotting foods.

Check for any additional damage that could occur during transport, and repair it before shipping.

Be sure the car is in good mechanical condition before transporting it. How about making a checklist like the one below:

  • Charging the battery
  • Topping off all fluids
  • Checking the brakes, tires, and suspension
  • Making necessary repairs

Once on board, strap your car securely onto the carrier so you don't see it shifting around during transport.

Overall, shipping a car requires a certain level of cleanliness and preparation. Check the vehicle inside and out for filth in the backseat rows, debris, or damage before exporting it. Remove any items that hold sentimental or financial value and secure the vehicle onto the transporter.

Preparation for Shipping

The first step in shipping your car is preparing it properly. This preparation includes inspecting the car to guarantee it is mechanically sound and all fluids are topped off.

Again, you should fully charge the battery, so you or the person driving it can turn it on when it arrives. Plus, any necessary repairs should be completed long before transport.

Let's peruse some of the things to remember to prepare for your auto shipper.

Personal items removal

No one is keen to lose personal items of sentimental or significant value from the vehicle during transport. So, remember to remove personal electronics, private documents, clothing, and other items that could be damaged.

If any loose items are aboard the car, secure or remove them to prevent them from shifting around or getting broken in transit.

Additionally, locking the windows to prevent anything from getting in or out of the car is also wise.


Mechanical check-up

Of course, your vehicle should be in tip-top shape mechanically before you use an auto shipment company for transport.

You, or your mechanic, should look at the following factors:

  • Tire pressure: tire overinflation or underinflation can damage the car, so the pressure should be correct on shipment day
  • Battery: a full charge is recommended
  • Fluids: oil, antifreeze, brakes, washer, power steering, and transmission fluids should not have any leakage

If the car requires any repairs, complete them before using an auto shipping service.

Secure the vehicle

An accurate inspection can go a long way in securing your car. Careful handling of the vehicle during transport will ensure its safety.

If your car requires straps to secure it, have them inspected and fastened meticulously to the transporter. You don't want any possibility of your car moving around while on the transporter.

For public safety reasons, you should also check that every door is locked.

Emergency brake check and disconnect

Make sure you do an accurate inspection of the emergency brake before shipping. If the emergency brake is not in good working order, your car carrier should disconnect it before transport.

Furthermore, any emergency brake cables should also be removed or securely fastened so they do not move during transit. Doing this will ensure that the car does not roll while during transport.

Quarter tank of gas or less

The fuel tank is another key element to your car's safety during shipment. It is vital that your vehicle's fuel tank is at or below the quarter tank mark before shipping.

This measurement ensures that the car is not too heavy for transport and contains any spills during transit.

Also, filling up the tank to a quarter of its size will help reduce any fire risk in case of an accident.

Moreover, some shipping companies may require that you leave less than a quarter tank of fuel in the car due to safety regulations.

Insurance coverage

An adequate insurance policy when using the auto shipping industry is a lifesaver. Shipping providers will typically give basic liability insurance for most transport services.

Buying additional insurance coverage is always an excellent way to add further protection from your auto insurer. This type of coverage can provide added protection for your car in case of any damages or losses.

Services for Cleaning Cars

There are many services available to help you get your car clean before the shipping process.

Car detailing companies offer a bunch of different exterior and interior cleaning services. This service can include power washing your car, vacuuming the foot holds, and giving it a sleek wax finish.

You can use specialized cleaners to remove tough stains or debris from fabric upholstery or carpeting. Professional auto detailers can also perform minor repairs and touch-ups to help your car look its best before shipping.

Luxury vehicles may require more extensive cleaning and detailing services to ensure they arrive pristine.

Having your car professionally cleaned will help ease your shipping experience.


Will Your Car Be Refused If It's Dirty?

The short answer is no. Many auto transport services will still accept cars in less-than-perfect condition. But the one at risk of running into different issues if you send an excessively dirty or unkempt vehicle is your car and yourself.

So, it's always better to have your vehicle presentable, free of dirt and debris, for auto shipping companies.

Cleaning and inspecting your car professionally before shipping will also ensure reputable companies will honor your possessions while transporting your vehicle.

Consider a clean car as an added layer of protection that will move it away from dirt, debris, and, more importantly, damage.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to car shipping, the cleanest cars get the best prices. Sure, you may not always have the time to give your car a deep cleaning before you ship it. But at least you can tidy it up so that no damage will enter the carrier and rack up more shipping costs.

A-1 Auto Transport, Inc. facilitates the transport of automobiles easily and stress-free. Get your instant quote today and choose a service for your budget.

What's stopping you? Start your transportation journey today!

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Joe Webster always knew the auto transport industry would be a great career option. And with decades of experience, Joe is now an established consultant for A1 Auto Transport.

Joe was born in Santa Cruz, California. During high school, Joe worked as a mechanic; a job continued to work part-time during his bachelor's degree.

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A-1 Auto Transport is a disclosed agent for the following shipping companies:

Trans Global Auto Logistics, Inc.
3401 E Randol Mill Rd
Arlington, TX 76011
NO. 018191NF
CFR Rinkens
15501 Texaco Avenue
Paramount, CA 90723
NO. 013055NF
ABC Worldwide LLC
2840 NW 2nd Ave #105
Boca Raton, FL 33431
NO. 025472F
CSI Logistics
435 Division Street
Elizabeth, NJ 07201
FMC 22206
Intl Cargo
45 Campus Drive
Edison, NJ 08837
NO. 17858N
ShipYourCarNow LLC
1160 South Rogers Circle Suite 1
Boca Raton, FL 33487
NO. 025646
Merco Air & Ocean Cargo, Inc.
6 Fir Way
Cooper City, FL 33026
NO. 021869F
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