12 Car Shipping Tips When Preparing Your Vehicle

December 3, 2019

Whether you’re moving away or you’re selling your car to someone who lives in another state, you want to make sure you’re thoroughly prepared to ship your car so that nothing goes wrong. This includes finding the right auto transport company, getting the necessary car insurance to cover any damages, and prepping your car before it ships out.

That’s why we’ve put together this post so you know what things to consider and which mistakes to avoid when shipping a car. Let’s get started.

Initial Considerations When Shipping a Car

First, let’s take a look at some of the basic things to consider when shipping a car.

1. Research the Auto Transport Company Thoroughly

Your choice of auto transport company makes a huge difference in the quality of service you get. Some companies may be prone to accidents due to slack safety rules, while others may frequently be late for deliveries. Make sure you do thorough research before you decide which one to go with.

Check their social media comments and reviews, Google reviews, and reviews on third-party sites to see what people are saying about them. What are the major complaints about the company? What seems to be the biggest problem that people have with them? Do they have a strong reputation in the industry? 

Make sure you ask all these questions so you don’t fall prey to an auto shipping scam. In addition, check the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) website for carrier safety records.

2. Consider the Type of Carrier

Are you going to go with an open car carrier or an enclosed carrier? An open car carrier costs significantly less than an enclosed carrier, and is one of the most affordable car shipping methods. For an even more affordable option, you can even use a tow dolly but that’s not always recommended for cross-country auto transport.

While an enclosed carrier costs much more, it can guarantee better safety for your car and protect it from road debris and exposure to the elements. This makes it ideal for shipping specialty vehicles like classic cars and luxury vehicles.

3. Consider the Cost

The cost of shipping a car would be another major consideration. The exact rate varies based on type of carrier, distance, location, seasonality, and type of vehicle. There may be several additional factors affecting this. Use the Nexus Auto Transport Cost Calculator to get a better idea of how much you should expect to spend on shipping a car.

4. Have Realistic Expectations about Delivery Timeframe

You should also have a realistic understanding of how long it’ll take for your car to reach its destination. Of course, you can opt for expedited shipping or even use a single car enclosed carrier to get your car delivered as quickly as possible. At the same time, the duration has to be realistic.

You can’t expect to get your car from Seattle to Long Beach in a day because it would take at least a couple of days to cover the 900+ miles of distance between the two locations.

Here’s a general idea of how long it takes to transport a car per mile.

Mileage Transit Time
0-500 miles 1-2 days
500-1000 miles 2-3 days
1000-1500 miles 3-4 days
1500-2000 miles 5-6 days
2000-2500 miles 6-7 days
2500-3000 miles 7-8 days

Besides this, there may be some problems and road blocks in transit that could prevent the carrier from being on schedule. Having a realistic expectation of when your car will get there is essential since you’ll have to make plans according to that timeframe.

Say you’re buying a car online and you’re getting rid of the one you’re currently driving. You can’t sell the old one unless you’re sure that you’ll have the replacement car as soon as someone takes it off your hand.

5. Ask about Car Insurance Coverage

Before you settle on an auto transport company, make sure you check their insurance information to understand what they’re liable for. Most companies may cover minor dents and dings that occur in transit, provided you have the proper documentation to prove that the damage happened in transit.

Car insurance is an important consideration you should make regardless of how safe the type of transportation may be. There could be unforeseen circumstances and harsh weather conditions resulting in accidents and damages. See if the company will be liable for all of that before you decide to have your car shipped through them.

Even if not, make sure you check with your insurance company to get the necessary coverage.

Things to Consider for Vehicle Prepping

Once you have all the above basics down pat and you’ve booked a carrier, it’s time to prep your car for shipping. Check out some of these crucial things to consider and mistakes to avoid when prepping your vehicle:

1. Check for Maintenance Issues

Make sure you thoroughly check for any maintenance issues like loose parts, faulty brakes, or leaky fluid lines and have them fixed. It’s particularly important to fix any noticeable leaks because some auto transport companies may refuse to ship it in that condition. Otherwise, your car could get oil or transmission fluid all over other cars in the carrier.

2. Clean Your Car Thoroughly

It’s important to identify any existing scratches and dents in your car before you ship it. To make sure you do that correctly, wash it thoroughly to remove any dust or grime that could hide these damages. This will help you accurately document every single scratch, dent, or ding, which then makes it easier to identify any additional damages that might occur in transit.

Don’t forget to clean out the inside of your car either. The vehicle could get jostled during transport, which means any loose parts or unsecured items will get tossed around. In some cases, this may even damage your car interiors. Make sure you remove everything that isn’t secured such as electronics, spare change, valuables, air fresheners, etc.

3. Document Its Pre-Shipping Condition

Once you have the maintenance issues fixed, get a full vehicle condition report to ensure you have written documentation of its pre-shipping condition. Make a note of any existing scratches, dents, or missing parts. For the scratches and dents, it would help to take photos so you have proof of the size and location.

If any additional damage occurs in transit, this documentation will provide sufficient proof so you can hold the company liable. However, make sure they acknowledge the documents before shipping to avoid further dispute later on.

4. Remove Custom Accessories (If Any)

Custom parts and accessories tend to have odd sizes and shapes, which makes them more susceptible to damage in transit. Low-hanging bumpers, for instance, could break after a particularly hard bump on the road. If you want to avoid this, it’s best to remove any custom parts or accessories before loading your car onto the truck.

5. Disable the Alarm

This seems like a pretty basic step, but you’ll be surprised to know how many people miss it. Don’t forget to disable the alarm system on your car or you could end up causing unnecessary problems for the truck driver.

6. Empty the Tank

When you gas up your car before shipping, it adds more weight to the vehicle. This can be very problematic for the carrier as they make all the necessary arrangements beforehand to accommodate a certain number of cars so as not to exceed weight restrictions.

In addition, a full tank could also risk the shipment in case of any unforeseen situations. Ideally, you should only fill up a quarter of the tank before shipping a car.

7. Check Tire Pressure

You wouldn’t want to drive your car with under-inflated or over-inflated tires. Just as these tires are dangerous on the road, they’re also risky to transport. There’s a higher chance of damage to your tires during loading and unloading if they’re not properly inflated.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, shipping a car isn’t as simple as paying an auto transport company and letting them do all the work. There are a few things to consider and mistakes to avoid before you even start choosing a company to ship your car.

You’ll need to consider the type of transportation that’s ideal for your needs – whether you’re shipping a car cross country or you’re shipping a classic car. You should also consider other factors like cost, insurance, and delivery timeframe. To top it all off, there’s a bit of preparation necessary before your car is ready for shipping.

Make the most of the points listed above to remember the most important steps that will help you safely ship your car with a reliable company.