How To Prepare your Vehicle

There are a few necessary measures one must take in order to ensure that their car shipping experience go as smoothly as possible. These practices are standard among auto shippers and can be expected whenever dealing with any auto transport companies.

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How To Prepare your Vehicle
How To Prepare your Vehicle

Preparing Your Vehicle To Be Shipped

One of the most important aspects of shipping a car is for you, the owner, to have it prepared for the shipment. This means you need to take care of several things before the car can even be loaded onto the carrier. These steps can help ensure your car stays safe and secure during transport.

1) Remove any personal items from your vehicle.

Department of Transportation Code mandates that no auto shipper carry anything defined as “Household Goods”. This means that by law, auto shipping companies are not allowed to transport vehicles containing personal items when moving from state to state. You will also want to remove any aftermarket parts that are in your vehicle. For instance, DVD players, GPS navigating systems, or external speaker units should be removed from the vehicle to secure them from damage or theft.

Do not forget to clear anything out of your trunk as well. Also, if your vehicle exceeds its’ standard gross vehicle weight during shipment, you could be charged with a fee for overweight cargo, starting at a minimum of $250. It is also good to note that many auto shipping companies do not insure items within the vehicle, so the solution is simple…clear your car. You can always consult with your shipping provider to find out what other options are available.

2) Wash your vehicle.

Once you have the date that the vehicle will be picked up, or ship out from port, you need to make sure it is washed by that date. Once it has been thoroughly washed and is all shined up, take a walk around it and note any existing dents, dings or scratches. You need to also check for signs of discolored paint or paint that is chipped off from the surface of the car.

While any type of damage seldom ever happens during professional auto transport, small dents and dings have been known to happen. When your car is clean, it is much easier to spot signs of damage like dents and tiny scratches when the car is delivered.

3) Leave about a quarter of a tank of gas in your vehicle.

Your car will not be driven very much at all during the shipping process, but it might be necessary for the loading and unloading process. In this case, you’ll want to have enough gas in the car to safely run the car for the time it will take to be loaded. Conversely, having a full tank of gas is not recommended. Gas can add a significant amount of weight to your vehicle which can add complications to your auto transport. You only need enough gas in the car to let the carrier driver load or unload the car during shipment.

4) Take note of the condition of your car.

Shortly before your vehicle is picked up, you will want to wash it clean of any dirt and dust. This will allow you to clearly see any dings, dents, or scratches that are already on your vehicle. you will want to either take note of these damages or document them with photographs. We recommend that you do both in order to fully ensure that there is no confusion upon delivery.

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Taking photographs of the car is highly recommended as you will have documented photographic proof of the condition of the car before it is loaded. Pictures are a good thing to have when the car is delivered just in case there is a discrepancy between you and the company on the condition of the car when it is delivered.

5) Car Maintenance Before Transport.

Before the car is loaded onto the transport truck, you should have it at the mechanic to have proper maintenance. If the car is inoperable, you will need to consult with the transporter ahead of time, so they can schedule the right truck and equipment to load and unload your car. If it is operable, you need to have it checked out to make sure there are no leaks or issues that would cause it to not start, steer or stop when needed. Some important things you need to have done before your car is loaded include:

  • Check for fluid leaks
  • Fill all fluids to the proper level
  • Check battery and have charged if necessary
  • Check the tire pressure and make sure all tires are inflated properly
  • Check mileage just before the car is loaded for transport (be sure to write the mileage down and check again when the car is delivered)

6) Keys

We suggest that you have a spare key made to the car. The driver will have to have a key that unlocks the doors and trunk and will start the car. It is best to have an extra key made just in case one is lost during transport. You do not want to give the driver the only set of keys you have and risk losing them.

7) Bill of Lading.

When your transport driver arrives to pick up your vehicle, they should present you with a Bill of Lading. This document is used to show any existing damages on your vehicle at the time of pick up. Both you and the driver should inspect the vehicle together in order to ensure that both parties agree on the existing damages. After inspection, all current damages should be noted on the document, which should then be signed by both parties. Upon the delivery of your vehicle, you should once again be presented with a Bill of Lading which you can use to check for any new damages. If there are any problems, you will have legal evidences to back up any claims you may wish to make through your shipping companies insurance provider.

Note: If you are having your vehicle picked up from a dealership or third-party seller, make sure that they are fully informed about the details of your shipment. It is very important that you make them fully aware of the Bill of Lading process, in order to ensure the safety of your vehicle. Otherwise, some shipping companies might try to claim no fault on new damages, because they will claim that the damages already existed at the time of pick up. The Bill of Lading is a security measure put in place both to protect the shipper and the shipping company from being cheated in any way, so it is important that you take full advantage of this process.

8) Disable Your Alarm.

If your vehicle has an alarm on it, it is important that you disable it before shipment. If you do not do this and your alarm is triggered during transport, the driver will not be able to disarm it. If there are complications with your alarm system, you will want to make sure that your shipping provider is fully aware of the matter, so that in the event that it does go off, they will be able to disarm it.

9) Confirm Contact Information.

Most transport drivers, depending on the company, should have a cell phone on their person while on route with your shipment. Before your drivers starts out, you will want to make sure that you have the correct contact information in order to stay updated on your shipment. If your driver does not have a direct contact, the company that they are working for should be have some way of tracking your shipment, either by GPS satellite tracking or e-mail correspondence with the driver. Make sure that you have this information so that in the event of a delay, you will be able to contact your shipping provider and get an accurate update as to what is going on with your shipment.

When shipping a vehicle, it is incredibly important that you contact your shipping provider and ask about all necessary preparations/shipping requirements, to ensure that your delivery goes through without any hassles!

Joe Webster
Written By:Joe Webster
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Joe Webster began his journey in the auto transport field by attending the University of Southern California (USC), where he graduated with a Bachelor of Business Marketing. 

After college, he started his career in the auto transport industry from the bottom up and has done virtually every job there is to do at A-1 Auto Transport, including but not limited to: Truck Driver, Dispatch, Sales, PR, Bookkeeping, Transport Planner, Transport Manager, International Transport Manager, Brokering, Customer Service, and Marketing. Working with his mentor Tony Taylor, Joe Webster has learned the ins and outs of this industry which is largely misunderstood. 

With over 30 years experience in the industry, we've been helping people ship their vehicles, motorcycles, RV's, heavy equipment, household goods and more across the country or overseas without a hitch. Ask us anything.

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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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