If you are a first-time auto transport customer, you may be wondering exactly how the car shipping process works. After all, your car is a valuable possession so you want to be sure you completely understand how car shippers operate. Simply put, car shipping companies transport vehicles from one location to another via a trailer. This is a safe and convenient way to transport your vehicle a long distance. That said, there are a few things to keep in mind when shopping for the right shipping company and there are also some things you should know in order to prepare your vehicle for shipment. This guide will help you understand the step-by-step process for shipping your vehicle.

Step 1: Have Your Vehicle and Shipment Information Ready

When you begin shopping around for quotes, the first thing shipping companies are going to ask you is what kind of car you will be shipping. Make sure you know the exact make, model, and year of your vehicle. You also need to know the exact destination points for pick-up and delivery. In addition, you need to be prepared to include information regarding whether or not your vehicle is operable or inoperable, or even oversized. Finally, if you require any additional services such as expedited shipping, enclosed transport, or door-to-door delivery you will want to discuss these services. This information will ensure you get the most accurate estimate.

Step 2: Get Shipping Quotes

Shop online and gather quotes from a few different car shipping companies. Compare prices and services until you find a company that suits your needs and budget. Remember, however, that the cheapest quote doesn’t always mean the best value. Like many other industries, you get what you pay for so look for quality in addition to the price. Be sure to check the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration website to verify proper licensing, registration, and insurance. You can also check the company’s safety record here as well.

Step 3: Choose Open or Enclosed Transport

You will now select between using an open or enclosed carrier. Open-air carriers are the most common transportation method and they are cheaper. However, your car will be exposed to the outdoor elements which could be a concern for some customers. If you are shipping a brand new, luxury, antique, or exotic car you may choose to pay a little extra for enclosed transport to ensure your vehicle is protected from the outdoors.

Step 4: Choose Door-to-Door or Terminal-to-Terminal Shipping

Next, you will need to specify whether or not you prefer door-to-door shipping. This service is certainly most convenient and can usually be handled for an additional cost. However, some delivery locations have restrictions on shipping trailers because of laws, poor road access, or low-hanging trees. Furthermore, if you are in a rural location, door-to-door services may not be offered. In these instances, your vehicle may be delivered to the nearest terminal. Be sure to discuss these options with your shipping company.

Step 5: Prepare Your Car for Shipment

There are a few things you will need to do in order to prepare your car for shipment. Start by removing all personal belongings from inside the vehicle. You also want to use up most of your gas, leaving your tank no more than ¼ full. This reduces your car’s weight and makes it safer for shipment. You should also wash your car inside and out prior to shipment. Once your car is washed, take photos of your vehicle’s exterior and make a note of any dents, dings, or scratches. This visual proof of your vehicle’s condition will make it easier to note any damage that might have occurred during shipment.

Step 6: Your Vehicle will be Picked Up

On the date of your scheduled pickup, a carrier will arrive to load your vehicle onto their trailer. You will need to have proof of vehicle ownership in order to ship your vehicle. At this time, you will exchange contact information with your carrier so you can stay informed with delivery information. You will also inspect your vehicle’s condition and make a note of it on the Bill of Lading. At this time, you will sign your final contract and hand over your keys.

Step 7: Your Car Will be Delivered

Upon delivery, you will do a final inspection of your vehicle’s condition and sign the Bill of Lading. This is when you would make a note of any damage that could have occurred. Once you have signed the Bill of Lading, you will make your final payment and take your vehicle.