Are you preparing to have your vehicle shipped across the country? If so, you may be wondering what you need to do to ensure your vehicle is properly prepared for transport. Since auto transport isn’t something most people do on a regular basis, you may not be aware of exactly what steps you need to take to make sure your vehicle is ready for its cross-country haul. As the owner of the vehicle, you are responsible for preparing your automobile for transport prior to the driver’s arrival. Here is everything you need to know so you can prepare your vehicle for shipping day.
The first thing you will want to do is wash the exterior of your vehicle. This may seem counterintuitive since you are about to have it shipped across the country, but the reason for washing your car is so you can document its condition. You will need to inspect your car and make note of any existing scratches or dings and it’s much easier to spot any imperfections on a clean car.
Once you have thoroughly cleaned your car, you will want to take time-stamped photos of the exterior of your vehicle. You want to document any scratches, dings, dents, or paint chips prior to handing your vehicle over for transport. These photos will serve as proof of your vehicle’s condition in the unlikely event that your vehicle is damaged during transport. When your car is picked up for shipment, you want to have these pictures ready so you can include them on the Bill of Lading (the inspection report you will sign).
Any exterior accessories on your vehicle could get damaged during transport so it’s best to remove them before shipping your car. These items include:
- Removable bike racks
- Luggage racks and rooftop boxes
- Retractable antennas
- Custom spoilers
If you are transporting an inoperable vehicle, you will need to notify the car shipping company of your vehicle’s condition beforehand, as it requires special equipment to transport inoperable vehicles. For vehicles in working condition, you want to check your car for any leaks or mechanical issues. You also want to check to be sure your battery is fully charged, you have adequate air pressure in your tires, and be sure to top off your fluids.
You will need to note the mileage of your vehicle before shipment and upon delivery so you should take a picture of the odometer. This will provide you with peace of mind knowing that no one took your vehicle for a joy ride during transport.
You want to make sure that your vehicle has no more than a quarter tank of gas. Extra gas means extra weight and this can add to your shipping cost. Since carriers have to meet certain weight requirements, they prefer that your vehicle have a quarter tank of gas or less.
The last thing your driver wants to deal with is a car alarm that won’t turn off. To prevent this from happening, disable your car alarm prior to shipment. In addition, you won’t need to pay any tolls while your car is in transport on a trailer, but your tag would likely still pick up the fee. Therefore, deactivate or remove toll tags before shipment.
Most car shipping companies do not allow you to pack personal items inside your vehicle during shipment. These items are not insured against damage or theft, so be sure to remove all personal belongings before handing over your vehicle. This includes items such as sunglasses, charging cables, water bottles, GPS devices, jewelry, or any other personal items.
Before you hand your vehicle over to the driver, they will want proof that the vehicle is actually yours. To prevent any last-minute delays, have your paperwork prepared in advance. You will need the following documents:
- Vehicle registration information
- Proof of insurance
- Bill of sale or other proof of ownership
- Original vehicle title
- A valid ID
Your car will need to be driven onto the carrier for loading so your transport driver will need a set of keys to get your vehicle on and off the trailer. This is a good time to have an extra set of keys made if you don’t already have them. You don’t want to hand over your only set of keys.
Frequently Asked Questions
Answers to Your Car Moving Questions
The hardest thing for people researching car moving companies to understand is that the prices they are getting are not hard and fast gaurantees, but rather ESTIMATES of what one company thinks it will take to get a vehicle moved promptly versus another company's opinion of what it will take. Don't be fooled, there are not carriers committed to take your vehicle at these quoted prices, the company you choose will still have to get to work getting a carrier to commit to move it at the price they quote you.
Your total price breaks down into two parts, the broker's fee (or 'deposit' as everyone calls it) and the carriers fee (your COD amount) Make no mistake about this, EVERYONE YOU ARE GETTING SALES CALLS FROM IS GOING TO BROKER YOUR MOVE. In this industry, there are brokers who try to fool you into thinking that they are the actual carriers and there are an equal amount of carriers who sell themselves on the fact that they have a truck or two but are not being honest about the fact that they broker out 90% of the orders they book. Here is a quick easy way to tell, if a company takes an up front fee, whether they call it a deposit or any other name, they are a broker. Carriers do not take any payment until the vehicle is delivered.
In our opinion, you are crazy to do so. Have you ever been paid up front for the work that you perform for your employer? Why would you pay a fee up front when there are reliable and trustworthy companies like ours that won't ask for it until we provide you with your carriers details?
The average transit time from pick up to delivery on any vehicle going coast to coast will be between one and two weeks. From there you can figure your transit time based on how far your vehicle is traveling, i.e. from either coast to the Midwest might average 3-7 days.