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A Comprehensive Guide: How to Prepare Your Vehicle for Shipping 

Posted on 02/23/2024

 

In the realm of vehicle transportation, ensuring your car is ready for shipping is an essential step towards a smooth and stress-free experience. Whether you’re relocating across the country or sending your vehicle to a new owner, proper preparation can make all the difference in ensuring your prized possession arrives at its destination safely and securely. Join us as we delve into a comprehensive guide on how to prepare your vehicle for shipping, guaranteeing a hassle-free journey every step of the way. 

Step 1: Pre-Shipping Cleanse

Before entrusting your vehicle to the shipping company, it’s crucial to give it a thorough cleaning. Start by washing the exterior to remove dirt, grime, and road debris accumulated from your travels. Pay special attention to areas prone to dirt buildup, such as the wheels, wheel wells, and undercarriage. Cleaning the interior is equally important, as it ensures a clutter-free space and allows for a proper inspection of your vehicle’s condition before transit. Vacuum the interior to remove any dirt, dust, or debris, and wipe down surfaces to eliminate any lingering odors. A clean vehicle not only presents a good impression but also facilitates a smoother inspection process upon arrival. 

Step 2: Document Pre-Existing Conditions

Documenting any pre-existing damage is crucial for insurance purposes and to avoid potential disputes with the shipping company. Take photographs of your vehicle from all angles, making sure to capture any scratches, dents, dings, or other imperfections. It’s also a good idea to create a written record detailing the existing damage, including dates and descriptions, to supplement the photographic evidence.

This documentation serves as a clear record of your vehicle’s condition prior to shipping, providing peace of mind throughout the process. Additionally, consider keeping a copy of the documentation for your records and providing a copy to the shipping company for their reference. 

Step 3: Fluid Check and Tire Inspection

Before shipping your vehicle, it’s essential to ensure that all fluid levels are topped up to the manufacturer’s recommended levels. Check the oil, coolant, brake fluid, windshield washer fluid, and transmission fluid, and top them up if necessary.

Additionally, inspect the tires to ensure they are properly inflated to the recommended PSI. Properly inflated tires prevent damage during loading and transit, ensuring your vehicle is ready to roll upon arrival at its destination. It’s also advisable to inspect the tires for any signs of wear or damage, such as cuts, bulges, or uneven wear patterns, and address any issues before shipping to minimize the risk of problems during transit. If you notice any abnormalities, consider having the tires inspected by a professional mechanic before shipping. 

Step 4: Remove Personal Items and Accessories

Before shipping your vehicle, it’s essential to remove all personal belongings and valuables from the interior. This includes electronic devices, paperwork, sunglasses, CDs, DVDs, personal documents, and any other loose items. Not only does this help prevent theft and damage to your belongings, but it also reduces the risk of damage to your vehicle’s interior during transit. Additionally, it’s advisable to remove any aftermarket accessories, such as GPS units, dash cams, radar detectors, or toll tags, as they may be damaged or stolen during shipping. Consider storing these items in a secure location or packing them separately to ensure they are not lost or damaged during transit. 

Step 5: Disable Alarm Systems and Secure Loose Parts

Before shipping your vehicle, it’s essential to disable any alarm systems to prevent them from going off during transit, which could drain the vehicle’s battery or cause unnecessary disruptions. Additionally, secure any loose parts or accessories to prevent them from moving around and causing damage to your vehicle or other vehicles during shipping. This includes items such as antennas, side mirrors, spoilers, bike racks, or detachable roof racks, which should be properly secured or removed altogether.

Consider using zip ties, bungee cords, or tape to secure loose parts and accessories and prevent them from shifting or falling off during transit. It’s also a good idea to retract or fold in any external mirrors or antennas to minimize the risk of damage during loading and transit. 

Step 6: Fuel Management 

While your vehicle needs some fuel for loading and unloading purposes, it’s essential to manage the fuel level carefully before shipping. Most shipping companies recommend leaving only a minimal amount of fuel in the tank—typically no more than a quarter tank—to reduce the overall weight of the vehicle and minimize the risk of fuel leakage during transit. Excess fuel adds unnecessary weight to the vehicle, which can increase shipping costs and pose safety risks during transit. Additionally, fuel leakage during transit can damage other vehicles and pose environmental hazards, so it’s crucial to follow the shipping company’s fuel management guidelines carefully. If your vehicle has an aftermarket fuel system or an oversized fuel tank, be sure to inform the shipping company in advance so they can make the necessary accommodations. 

Step 7: Communication with Your Shipping Provider

Finally, communication with your chosen shipping provider is key to ensuring a smooth and successful shipping experience. Before booking your shipment, take the time to research different shipping companies and compare their services, prices, and customer reviews. Once you’ve selected a shipping provider, be sure to communicate with them clearly and provide accurate and detailed information about your vehicle, including its make, model, year, dimensions, weight, and any special considerations or requirements. Ask about their specific requirements and procedures for vehicle preparation, including drop-off and pick-up locations, shipping timelines, insurance coverage, and payment options. Be sure to ask any questions or address any concerns you may have before booking your shipment to avoid misunderstandings or complications later. Establish clear lines of communication and ensure you have contact information for the shipping company in case of any issues or emergencies during transit. 

Smooth Sailing Ahead

By following these comprehensive steps to prepare your vehicle for shipping, you can ensure a seamless and stress-free experience from start to finish. Trust in the process, communicate effectively with your shipping provider, and rest assured knowing your vehicle is in safe hands. With meticulous preparation and attention to detail, your vehicle will arrive at its destination safely and securely, ready to hit the road once again. Remember, proper preparation is key to a successful shipping journey, so take the time to ensure your vehicle is ready for its upcoming adventure. Safe travels! 

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A Comprehensive Guide: How to Prepare Your Vehicle for Shipping 

Posted on 02/23/2024

 

In the realm of vehicle transportation, ensuring your car is ready for shipping is an essential step towards a smooth and stress-free experience. Whether you’re relocating across the country or sending your vehicle to a new owner, proper preparation can make all the difference in ensuring your prized possession arrives at its destination safely and securely. Join us as we delve into a comprehensive guide on how to prepare your vehicle for shipping, guaranteeing a hassle-free journey every step of the way. 

Step 1: Pre-Shipping Cleanse

Before entrusting your vehicle to the shipping company, it’s crucial to give it a thorough cleaning. Start by washing the exterior to remove dirt, grime, and road debris accumulated from your travels. Pay special attention to areas prone to dirt buildup, such as the wheels, wheel wells, and undercarriage. Cleaning the interior is equally important, as it ensures a clutter-free space and allows for a proper inspection of your vehicle’s condition before transit. Vacuum the interior to remove any dirt, dust, or debris, and wipe down surfaces to eliminate any lingering odors. A clean vehicle not only presents a good impression but also facilitates a smoother inspection process upon arrival. 

Step 2: Document Pre-Existing Conditions

Documenting any pre-existing damage is crucial for insurance purposes and to avoid potential disputes with the shipping company. Take photographs of your vehicle from all angles, making sure to capture any scratches, dents, dings, or other imperfections. It’s also a good idea to create a written record detailing the existing damage, including dates and descriptions, to supplement the photographic evidence.

This documentation serves as a clear record of your vehicle’s condition prior to shipping, providing peace of mind throughout the process. Additionally, consider keeping a copy of the documentation for your records and providing a copy to the shipping company for their reference. 

Step 3: Fluid Check and Tire Inspection

Before shipping your vehicle, it’s essential to ensure that all fluid levels are topped up to the manufacturer’s recommended levels. Check the oil, coolant, brake fluid, windshield washer fluid, and transmission fluid, and top them up if necessary.

Additionally, inspect the tires to ensure they are properly inflated to the recommended PSI. Properly inflated tires prevent damage during loading and transit, ensuring your vehicle is ready to roll upon arrival at its destination. It’s also advisable to inspect the tires for any signs of wear or damage, such as cuts, bulges, or uneven wear patterns, and address any issues before shipping to minimize the risk of problems during transit. If you notice any abnormalities, consider having the tires inspected by a professional mechanic before shipping. 

Step 4: Remove Personal Items and Accessories

Before shipping your vehicle, it’s essential to remove all personal belongings and valuables from the interior. This includes electronic devices, paperwork, sunglasses, CDs, DVDs, personal documents, and any other loose items. Not only does this help prevent theft and damage to your belongings, but it also reduces the risk of damage to your vehicle’s interior during transit. Additionally, it’s advisable to remove any aftermarket accessories, such as GPS units, dash cams, radar detectors, or toll tags, as they may be damaged or stolen during shipping. Consider storing these items in a secure location or packing them separately to ensure they are not lost or damaged during transit. 

Step 5: Disable Alarm Systems and Secure Loose Parts

Before shipping your vehicle, it’s essential to disable any alarm systems to prevent them from going off during transit, which could drain the vehicle’s battery or cause unnecessary disruptions. Additionally, secure any loose parts or accessories to prevent them from moving around and causing damage to your vehicle or other vehicles during shipping. This includes items such as antennas, side mirrors, spoilers, bike racks, or detachable roof racks, which should be properly secured or removed altogether.

Consider using zip ties, bungee cords, or tape to secure loose parts and accessories and prevent them from shifting or falling off during transit. It’s also a good idea to retract or fold in any external mirrors or antennas to minimize the risk of damage during loading and transit. 

Step 6: Fuel Management 

While your vehicle needs some fuel for loading and unloading purposes, it’s essential to manage the fuel level carefully before shipping. Most shipping companies recommend leaving only a minimal amount of fuel in the tank—typically no more than a quarter tank—to reduce the overall weight of the vehicle and minimize the risk of fuel leakage during transit. Excess fuel adds unnecessary weight to the vehicle, which can increase shipping costs and pose safety risks during transit. Additionally, fuel leakage during transit can damage other vehicles and pose environmental hazards, so it’s crucial to follow the shipping company’s fuel management guidelines carefully. If your vehicle has an aftermarket fuel system or an oversized fuel tank, be sure to inform the shipping company in advance so they can make the necessary accommodations. 

Step 7: Communication with Your Shipping Provider

Finally, communication with your chosen shipping provider is key to ensuring a smooth and successful shipping experience. Before booking your shipment, take the time to research different shipping companies and compare their services, prices, and customer reviews. Once you’ve selected a shipping provider, be sure to communicate with them clearly and provide accurate and detailed information about your vehicle, including its make, model, year, dimensions, weight, and any special considerations or requirements. Ask about their specific requirements and procedures for vehicle preparation, including drop-off and pick-up locations, shipping timelines, insurance coverage, and payment options. Be sure to ask any questions or address any concerns you may have before booking your shipment to avoid misunderstandings or complications later. Establish clear lines of communication and ensure you have contact information for the shipping company in case of any issues or emergencies during transit. 

Smooth Sailing Ahead

By following these comprehensive steps to prepare your vehicle for shipping, you can ensure a seamless and stress-free experience from start to finish. Trust in the process, communicate effectively with your shipping provider, and rest assured knowing your vehicle is in safe hands. With meticulous preparation and attention to detail, your vehicle will arrive at its destination safely and securely, ready to hit the road once again. Remember, proper preparation is key to a successful shipping journey, so take the time to ensure your vehicle is ready for its upcoming adventure. Safe travels! 

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Frequently Asked Questions

Get answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about the vehicle transportation process.


When determining your car shipping cost, there are a few factors that we take into account in order to provide you with an accurate price quote. The mileage between the origin and destination is the biggest factor that contributes to your total rate. In addition to the distance of your relocation, another factor is the type and condition of the vehicle being shipped. The final factor is the date that your vehicle will be ready for transport. There are also additional options, such as enclosed carrier and top-load service that can be added to your shipment at the time of booking for a higher level of service. Read more about how much it costs to ship a car.

To get a quote for shipping your vehicle, you can either use our instant online car shipping quote calculator or you can call (888) 422-7584 to receive a quote from one of our car transport pricing specialists. To calculate your quote we will need to know the location you are shipping from and to, the type of vehicle you would like to ship, and the date your vehicle will be ready.

The transit time for your shipment is based mostly on the mileage between the pickup and delivery location. Generally, every five hundred miles will add one day to the transit time - so for a 1,000 mile transport, the transit time would be 2-3 days. Check out our estimated transit times for a detailed view of approximate delivery times.

Yes, online tracking is available to you 24 hours a day and is updated in real time. Upon scheduling your shipment, you will receive a unique booking number that will allow you to track the status of your shipment online. Your tracking portal will also give you the ability to live chat with a shipping agent that can answer any questions you may have regarding the status of your shipment.

All shipments include basic liability coverage during transit. Comprehensive insurance options are available for an elevated level of shipment coverage during transit. You will be able to select a level of coverage during the booking process. If you have further questions regarding insurance options give us a call.

We accept all major credit cards, electronic transfer, postal money order, and bank/certified check for the deposit or full pre-payment of your shipment. If a balance is due upon delivery, it can be paid directly to the driver and can be paid in either cash, bank/certified check, or postal money order.

Yes, there must be someone present to release and accept the vehicle, provide keys to the driver and sign the initial and final inspection reports. This person can be anyone over the age of 18 that you trust with releasing or accepting your vehicle.

You may transport personal belongings in your car, as long as their total weight does not exceed 100 pounds and they are stored in the trunk or back seat (below the window line). Please keep in mind that personal belongings are not covered by insurance if they are reported as damaged or missing.

To get a quote for shipping your vehicle, you can either use our instant online car shipping quote calculator above or you can call (888) 422-7584 to receive a quote from one of our car transport pricing specialists. In order for us to calculate your quote we will need to know the location you are shipping from and to, the type of vehicle you would like to ship, and the date your vehicle will be ready.

The further in advance you schedule your shipment, the more likely we will be able to meet the time requirements you desire. For best results, we suggest scheduling your transport at least 2 to 3 weeks in advance. Expedited shipping options are available to accomodate shipments that require . You can always give us a call and ask one of our car shipping experts what your options are in terms of the schedule for your car transport.

The driver will get the car transporter as close to your door as he can legally and safely get. In most cases, the driver will be able to pickup and deliver directly to your door. Some cities may have restrictions on large trucks that prohibit them from driving into residential areas. Auto transport trucks are large and need lots of room to maneuver and turn around, so if access to the pickup or delivery location is restricted by narrow streets, low-hanging trees or tight turns, the driver may ask that you meet at a location nearby with a large parking lot, such as a grocery store.

Open transport is the most common car shipping method. There are two types of open-air transporters. The Majority of shipments are be made with 8-10 car carriers. Smaller carriers which hold 2-3 cars are used for shorter, local car moving. There is a broader network of carrier availability for open-air carriers since they are used more often. We suggest choosing enclosed car shipping methods when shipping classic, luxury or exotic vehicles. Enclosed vehicle transportation guarantees maximum protection from exposure to any open-air elements on the road. We suggest booking your enclosed transport in advance since carrier availability is limited. Read more about the difference between open and enclosed transport

RoadRunner Auto Transport specializes in shipping all types of vehicles including sedans, SUVs, pickup trucks, minivans, oversized vehicles, antiques, classic cars, motorcycles, construction vehicles, inoperable cars and boats. If you are not sure whether or not we can ship your vehicle, you can give us a call to find out what we can do for you.

You should have about a quarter of a tank of gas in your car at the time of shipment. This leaves enough for the car to be loaded and unloaded but doesn't add much additional weight.

The Bill of Lading is a very important document used by car shipping companies that documents any pre-existing damage on the vehicle during the time of pickup. It also serves as a record of your contact info and the official agreement for transport. If you want to file any insurance claim regarding your shipment you will need the Bill of Lading.

Top load service is when your car is placed on the higher deck or level of an open auto transport trailer. This is considered to be preferable to the bottom load because the cars on the lower deck are at risk of possibly having fluid from the cars above leak on them.

Make sure your car has been completely cleaned, both inside and outside. This is particularly important because this will help the driver conduct their inspection in order to assess any pre-existing damage on your vehicle. You will also want to make there are no additional personal items in the vehicle unless you intend to ship those with the vehicle (remember those items must total less than 100 pounds combined and be kept below the window-line of the vehicle). Be sure to inform the driver of any special circumstances concerning the vehicle. Finally, make sure there is a quarter tank of gas in the car at the time it is picked up for shipment. Visit our car shipping checklist to make sure you are prepared for your vehicle shipment.

Yes, we can ship vehicles that are in non-running/inoperable condition. When inoperable cars are shipped, a special auto carrier is required that makes use of a winch which is connected to your car and slowly and safely pulls your vehicle onto the carrier. There is an additional fee for inoperable vehicles because of the special equipment and extra work involved with securing the vehicle onto the transporter. You can select the inoperable option on the online booking form or inform your shipping agent if you make your reservation by phone so that the proper arrangements can be made to accommodate a non-running vehicle.

We offer open car shipping and enclosed car shipping services. Open car shipping is used much more frequently and is the type of auto transport that you see on the highway where carriers are hauling vehicles on two decks that are exposed. Enclosed car shipping is when your vehicle is shipped in a trailer which has walls and a roof, they look like a larger version of a regular eighteen-wheeler. This method is recommended for luxury, exotic or classic cars.

Door-to-door car transport is the full-service delivery of your vehicle directly from the door at the pickup location to the door at the delivery location. Our drivers do their best to get as close as physically and legally possible to the pickup and delivery locations, but in certain instances there may be restrictions preventing them from being able to reach your door safely. Our transporters need ample space to maneuver and load/unload your vehicle. If your street is too narrow, or if there are hazards such as low-lining trees or power lines, drivers may ask that you meet them at a location nearby where they can safely load or unload your vehicle, such as a large parking lot or shopping center nearby.