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.

1. Wash the Vehicle

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.

2. Take Photos of Your Vehicle

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).

3. Remove Exterior Accessories

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

4. Perform Any Necessary Maintenance

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.

5. Take a Picture of the Odometer

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.

6.Empty Your Gas Tank

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.

7. Disable Alarms and Remove Toll Tags

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.

8. Remove Personal Items

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.

9. Gather Your Vehicle’s Documents

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

10. Get an Extra Set of Keys

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.