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How do I prepare my car for shipping from California?

Published by Joe Webster.

What's in this article?
  1. Step-by-Step Guide Preparing Your Car for Shipping from California
  2. Detailed Guide to Each Step
  3. Additional Tips and Common Mistakes to Avoid
  4. Conclusion
How do I prepare my car for shipping from California?

Shipping your car from California requires careful planning and preparation to ensure the process goes smoothly. Whether you're moving across the country or sending a vehicle to a buyer, the key to a successful car shipping experience lies in choosing the right auto transport company and preparing your car properly. This guide aims to provide you with detailed steps on how to prepare your car for shipping from California, ensuring it arrives at its destination safely and in the same condition it left. By following these guidelines, you can minimize the risks and stress often associated with car shipping.


Step-by-Step Guide: Preparing Your Car for Shipping from California

  1. How do I prepare my car for shipping from California? Preparing your car for shipping involves several important steps, starting with selecting a reliable auto transport company. Look for a shipping company with positive reviews, proper insurance, and a range of car shipping services. Once you've chosen your auto transport company, here's how to get your car ready:
  2. Wash Your Car: A clean car makes it easier to identify any scratches, dents, or damages before and after shipping. This step is crucial for your inspection process.
  3. Inspect and Document the Car's Condition: Conduct a thorough inspection of both the interior and exterior of your vehicle. Take clear, dated photographs from various angles to document its pre-shipment condition.
  4. Secure or Remove Loose Parts and Personal Belongings: To prevent damage during transit, remove or secure any loose parts such as spoilers, mirrors, and fog lights. Also, remove all personal belongings from the car to avoid loss or damage.
  5. Check Fluids, Tire Pressure, and Battery: Ensure that all fluids are at the proper level, the tire pressure is correct, and the battery is fully charged. This ensures that your car can be loaded and unloaded without issues.
  6. Disable the Alarm System: To avoid any inconvenience during transport, make sure to disable your car's alarm system.
  7. Leave Only a Quarter Tank of Gas: A full gas tank adds unnecessary weight to the transport. Keeping the gas tank only a quarter full is sufficient and safer for shipping.
  8. Hand Over the Car to the Transporter: When the transporter arrives, provide them with any necessary documents and keys. Perform a final walk-around of the vehicle together to confirm its condition.

Detailed Guide to Each Step

  • Choosing the Right Auto Transport Company: The first step in preparing your car for shipping from California is to find a reliable auto transport company. Research online for a shipping company that offers the specific car shipping services you need, whether it's open-air or enclosed transport. Check for licensure, insurance coverage, and read customer reviews to gauge their reliability and service quality. A reputable car shipping company will provide clear communication and transparency about the entire process.
  • Preparing the Car Internally and Externally: After selecting your auto transport company, the next step is to prepare your car. Washing your car thoroughly allows for a more accurate inspection. Documenting the car's condition with photos provides evidence in case of a dispute over damages caused during shipping. Internally, removing personal belongings protects your items from theft or damage, as the shipping company's insurance does not cover personal items left in the vehicle. Externally, securing loose parts prevents them from being lost or causing damage to your car or others during transport.
  • Documentation and Legal Considerations: Proper documentation is essential when shipping a car. This includes the bill of lading, a legal document between you and the auto transport company outlining the shipping arrangement and condition of your car. Ensure you understand all the terms and conditions before signing. Additionally, verify that the auto transport company's insurance is sufficient to cover your vehicle during transit. If not, consider purchasing additional insurance to ensure full coverage. Keeping a personal record of your car’s condition, through detailed photos and notes, adds an extra layer of security and peace of mind.

By following these steps, you can confidently prepare your car for shipping from California, knowing that you've taken all the necessary precautions to ensure a safe and efficient transport process.


Additional Tips and Common Mistakes to Avoid

When you're getting ready to ship a car, knowing what to do is just as important as knowing what not to do. Here are some additional tips and common pitfalls to steer clear of during the car shipping process:

  • Do Your Homework: Not all car shipping companies are created equal. To find the best auto transport company, invest time in research. Look beyond just the price; consider the company’s reputation, service options (like door to door delivery), and their policy on delays and damage claims.
  • Avoid Overloading Your Car: While it might be tempting to pack your car with household items to save on moving costs, this can lead to issues. Most car carriers have strict weight limits, and exceeding these can result in additional charges or even refusal to transport your vehicle.
  • Ensure Tires Are Properly Inflated: Properly inflated tires are crucial for safely loading and unloading your vehicle onto the car carrier. They also help prevent tire damage during transport.
  • Don’t Leave Personal Items in Your Car: Removing personal belongings is a step some overlook. Personal items can shift during transport, causing damage to your vehicle's interior. Additionally, transport company insurance typically does not cover the loss of personal items left inside the car.
  • Don’t Forget to Disable Toll Tags and Parking Passes: If left in the vehicle, these can incur charges as the car is transported through tolls. Remove or deactivate them before shipping.

By keeping these tips in mind and avoiding common mistakes, you can help ensure a smoother shipping process for your vehicle.



Preparing your car for shipping from California involves careful planning and attention to detail. From choosing the right transport company to ensuring your car is clean, documented, and ready for transport, each step is crucial for a successful shipping experience. Remember to remove personal items, ensure the gas tank is only a quarter full, and verify that your car is in operable condition before handing it over to the carrier.

By following the guidelines outlined in this article, you can rest assured that you have done everything in your power to ensure a safe and efficient transport for your vehicle. Whether you're looking for door to door delivery or specific car transport services, choosing a reputable and reliable auto transport company is key. If you're ready to ship your car and need a trusted partner, consider reaching out to a top-rated car shipping company for a stress-free experience.

Ready to ship your car from California with ease and confidence? Choose A1 Auto Transport for a seamless, stress-free experience. Our reliable service, transparent pricing, and commitment to safety make us the best choice for your car shipping needs. Contact us today to get started and enjoy peace of mind with A1 Auto Transport!

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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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★★★★★ choice in terms of auto transport has to be A1 Auto Transport. It’s in the name, but also in the quality with which they do their jobs. I’ve never had a problem with this company.

Luis Rodriguez
You have my full support and recommendation!

A1 Auto Transport... From the get go, they were very different from my past options. Their website was very professional and up to date, full of useful information. I requested a quote using their online form, and I got an email response within an hour. Surprisingly fast!

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Cristine Benoit
I can safely say this is a legit company that will get the job done.

There are a lot of options for auto transport these days, which surprisingly makes it harder to find a good company. I received more than 10 offers to ship my car, but I couldn’t decide on any of them... Fortunately, I made the right choice with A1 Auto Transport.

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We give A1 Auto Transport a big 10 out of 10!

We give A1 Auto Transport a big 10 out of 10! We chose them to move our car from California to Vermont, since we needed professionals.

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

CSI Logistics
435 Division Street
Elizabeth, NJ 07201
FMC 22206
Intl Cargo
45 Campus Drive
Edison, NJ 08837
NO. 17858N
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
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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