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 WebsterWritten By:Joe WebsterConnect with Joe Webster on facebookConnect with Joe Webster on linkedin

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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Satisfied Customers

“I am meticulous when it comes to everything. At first, I was thinking of just driving all the way to Illinois from New Jersey. A friend recommended me to go to A1 Auto Transport and told me a lot of good things about them. I refused initially because I had filed a 4 day leave just to drive and visit my mother. But things did not go well. My boss asked me to cancel my leave because a very important client asked for an urgent meeting, and the manager could not attend to it. I was hopeless and took the risk of asking help from A1. The notice was short and I forgot I needed to inform them in advance. After a couple of hours, I received a call and they told me they found a way to book me with no extra fees. I am so thankful I got to attend to my work matters. I did not get to see my mother, but the vehicle and items inside it were in perfect condition as if it was me who took care of it. I owe you guys big time! I got one huge deal from our client.”

“The plan was to ship my car from California to Utah. I went through nearly 20 quotes after using an auto shipping site which linked to a bunch of brokers. Finally, I found A1 Auto Transport, a company with its own trucks with great reviews. I was sold. Joe was very competent, gave off the impression he’d done this a million times, and it really showed throughout the transport. He listened to my request carefully, offered me several options, stayed in touch during the transport, and made sure I was happy with everything. Overall, a great company which I would definitely recommend to others!”

“I’m so glad I met you Joe!! A truly fortunate experience. Having to transport a car to Minnesota, I was stunned to see the company, who was supposed to take care of it, just vanish. I couldn’t reach them anymore, like they went bankrupt overnight. However, I was lucky enough to not pay anything, so I simply researched some more until I found A1 Auto Transport. Joe answered my call the first time and we soon agreed on a date and a quote. Unfortunately, I got caught up in work and forgot about it. The order was not confirmed, so Joe must’ve thought I changed my mind. I called him the next day and arranged for a new date. This time, I made a note on my phone and it went well. I replied to his email this time, and the driver arrived at a parking lot down the street on time, as promised. The driver was nice enough to not mention my previous mistake. He delivered my car in just 3 days. Upon careful inspection, there were no scratches or damage done to it during transport. Joe was there along with the driver and they both waited patiently until I was satisfied. Thanks!”

“A1 Auto is kind of like your favourite mom and pop pizza parlour, the one you can’t get enough of despite all the new, expensive avant-garde pizza shops that have mushroomed conspicuously across the entire neighbourhood and seem to have taken over the whole world...but not you. Because you value quality and genuine customer service, and know this business understands and works doubly hard to give you your money’s worth. I’ve been using A1 Auto Transport whenever I left California for business: they may not be the cheapest car transporters around, but the sheer professionalism, dedication, and heart they put into their work is just amazing and worth my every dime. I’m probably one of the most sceptical people you would ever meet. I’m rarely convinced when bombarded with dubious, self-congratulating ads of companies that look like they’ve spent tons of money on marketing materials just to lure your average guy in. A1 Auto Transport is the complete opposite of these companies. My car always arrived promptly on schedule, never with a hint of scratch or dirt or damage, and they keep me updated every step of the process. When you’ve found a company whose genuine care for their customers comes naturally, you stand by them no matter what. It’s the most logical thing to do.”

“A1 Auto Transport helped me move a vehicle to Iowa from Houston. I was a bit nervous, no knowing much about such services. Thanks to Joe, I was able to clear the fog a little. He answered all my questions and explained everything in a way that left no room for interpretation. The details were straightforward. I picked Sunday as the pickup date, since I wasn’t at work, and they accommodated me. The truck arrived an hour early, yet the driver patiently waited for me to arrive. He thoroughly checked my car for scratches or anything that might affect the transport then drove it onto the truck. I was given a 2 day time window during which the car was supposed to arrive in, and it got to Iowa in the evening of the first day. The trip didn’t damage it at all. Next time a friend wants to move, I’ll surely recommend A1 Auto Transport.”

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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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