How to Prepare a Car for Transport
“I need to move my car, but I don’t know what to do.”
Not to worry. You’re not the only one who’s had this problem.
Once you’ve chosen your auto hauler, there are a few things you can do to prepare a car for transport across the country (or even just a few states). By following these few simple steps, it’ll be an easier and less stressful undertaking.
Make your auto moving experience a good one
The first thing you need to do is figure out when you want to ship your car. We recommend booking your auto delivery order at least 21 days in advance of when you need it to be picked up. If you don’t have the luxury of time, at least 10 days before should do the trick.
If you’re new to the auto transport industry, there are 10 steps you can take to learn how to ship your car. They’ll make your life a little easier and make your vehicle hauling experience a hassle-free one.
Most folks don’t have a lot of experience when it comes to shipping vehicles. It’s understandable if you have some concerns when you need to ship a car. After all, your vehicle is one of your most valuable assets, and probably how you get around on a daily basis.
9 things to do to prepare a car for transport
1. Wash your vehicle
The best thing you can do to prepare your car for shipping is to wash the vehicle. This makes it a lot easier to do the vehicle condition report you and the transport driver will do at pickup.
When the driver from your auto transport company arrives, inspect your vehicle with them, and sign the Shipping Bill of Lading (an official document to make sure everyone has the same understanding of the condition of the car).
All defects and damage, exterior and interior, need be documented on the Bill of Lading. Keep a copy of this for your records to check when your car is delivered.
You may also want to take pictures (and date them) of the vehicle before shipping it. Once the car is delivered, you and the driver will do another inspection to make sure no new damage occurred during transport.
2. Remove personal items from the car
Remove all valuables and important documents from your car that you may need. Your transport insurance may not cover these items, so it’s best take them out before you hand over your vehicle.
We suggest you empty your auto of all non-essential items in order to minimize weight, and the cost of transport.
Shut off or disable the car alarm and give alarm instructions to the vehicle shipping company. You don’t want to 1, have a driver have to deal with a screaming car with no way to shut it off; and 2, have a dead battery when your car is delivered to you.
Also, if you have a radar detector or an automatic toll reader, turn them off as well. You wouldn’t want it racking up toll charges as your vehicle makes its way cross country.
Secure or remove any loose parts or specialty items from your car such as ground effects, spoilers, fog lights, racks (luggage, bike, ski), etc. If you have wide mirrors, fold them back and lower or remove/retract the antennae. This is to reduce the chances of damage during the transport.
If your car is a convertible, make sure the top is up. Seal any holes or tears to prevent damage from the wind. If you can’t raise the top, you should cover it with a secure fitting tarp that can resist high winds.
4. Radiator and battery
Make sure there’s antifreeze in the radiator and that the battery is secure, with no leaks, and fluid levels low enough to allow for expansion during transport.
Make sure the battery is charged, and the tires are inflated properly. Top off all other fluids in the vehicle and let the driver know if there are any leaks.
If there are leaks, the driver needs to know so he places the car on the bottom row of the auto hauler. Otherwise your car may be put on the top of the auto transport trailer, and you don’t want to drip on the cars below.
Conversely, if your car is on the bottom, you don’t want someone else’s car leaking on yours.
5. Is your vehicle operable?
Is your car in good working condition? Check for engine problems, and if you’re able to, have a mechanic tune it up before your car is picked up for transport.
If your vehicle is not running, let us know beforehand so we’re able to plan ahead, and make sure we get the proper equipment there to load your auto.
There may be an additional charge if your car is inoperable, or if there are any other additions to your auto such as camper shells, or lifted/oversized trucks. Please make sure you specify any and all modifications to your vehicle for an accurate quote.
6. Leave 1/4 tank (or less) of gas in vehicle
A car with either a full or empty tank is not allowed to be transported.
The lighter your car is the better, so please make sure you don’t have more than a quarter of a tank prior to your interstate car transport. This will save quite a bit of weight for the transporter.
7. Are you insured?
If your car is already insured, then you’re ready to ship your vehicle! We don’t require you to purchase additional insurance; we just recommend that you have insurance in place at the time your auto is being transported.
If your vehicle is damaged during transport, J&S – or our insurance, will cover the repairs.
However, if damage is caused by natural weather occurrences such as hail, flooding, tornadoes, etc., your insurance will be responsible for the repairs. Check with your auto insurance company to verify whether your car insurance applies during auto transport or not.
Any damage caused by the transporter is covered by their insurance.
8. Have extra keys ready
The U.S. Department of Transportation requires you to give a set of keys to the auto transport driver. They’ll need them to get your car on and off the auto hauler.
If you have an older model vehicle, this may mean in addition to the ignition key, a door lock key and perhaps a glove compartment key.
It’s a good idea to have a whole set of keys for you AND the car delivery service company. So if you don’t already have an extra set, make sure you get one made before your vehicle gets picked up for transport.
9. Classic, custom or rare vehicle
You may want to use an Enclosed Transport for your valuable vehicles – especially if you are transporting a classic, custom, rare, exotic, or otherwise expensive car.
J&S primarily uses open carriers, but we will arrange closed transport if that’s what you require. This will delay the transport process considerably, but the safety of your precious vehicle is worth some extra patience.
An enclosed transport will protect your vehicle from outside elements, but it is more expensive. If you decide you need to use an enclosed carrier, contact our office for more details.
By following these simple suggestions for how to prepare a car for transport, when it comes time to ship your car, you and your vehicle will be ready for a successful experience. Learn why you can trust J&S Transportation with your vehicle, and click “Get Instant Quote” to book your order today!