Preparing Your Vehicle for Auto Transport

Transport company

When it comes to shipping your vehicle, proper preparation is crucial to ensure a smooth and hassle-free experience. Whether you’re moving to a new location or selling your car to someone in a different state, following the right steps can help protect your vehicle and ease the process of auto transportation. In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through the step-by-step process of preparing your vehicle for transport. From cleaning your car to securing loose parts, we’ll cover everything you need to know to ensure your vehicle arrives at its destination intact and in excellent condition.

1. Gather the Necessary Documents

Before you begin preparing your vehicle for transport, it’s essential to gather all the necessary documents. These typically include your vehicle’s registration, proof of insurance, and any other relevant paperwork. Having these documents readily available will streamline the shipping process and ensure a smooth transition when handing over your vehicle to the shipping company. 

2. Research Reliable Car Shipping Companies

Choosing a reputable car shipping company is crucial to the safety and timely delivery of your vehicle. Take the time to research and compare different companies, considering factors such as their experience, customer reviews, and insurance coverage. Reading testimonials and seeking recommendations can help you make an informed decision and select a company that aligns with your needs and budget. 

3. Remove Personal Belongings from the Vehicle

Before your car is shipped, it’s important to remove all personal belongings from the interior. This includes items such as CDs, electronics, loose change, and other valuables. Not only will removing personal belongings protect them from potential damage during transport, but it also ensures that the vehicle remains within the weight limits set by the shipping company. Clearing out your car also reduces the risk of theft and makes the inspection process easier. Remember, the shipping company is not responsible for any personal items left inside the vehicle.

4. Clean the Interior and Exterior of Your Car

Giving your car a thorough cleaning before shipping is highly recommended. Clean the interior to remove any dirt, debris, or food particles that could cause odors or attract pests during transportation. Vacuum the seats, floors, and trunk, and wipe down surfaces with a mild cleaner. For the exterior, wash and wax your vehicle to protect it from potential damage during transit. Cleaning your car also allows you to identify any existing scratches or dents that should be documented for insurance purposes.

5. Inspect and Document Pre-existing Damage

Before handing over your vehicle to the shipping company, it’s essential to inspect it thoroughly for any pre-existing damage. Take your time to examine the exterior and interior, noting any scratches, dents, or other imperfections. Documenting the condition of your car through photographs or written records will serve as evidence in case any disputes arise regarding damage during transportation. Both you and the shipping company should sign off on the inspection report, ensuring mutual agreement on the vehicle’s condition.

6. Disable Alarm Systems and Remove Toll Tags

To prevent any unnecessary alarms from going off during transit, remember to disable any car alarm systems. This will help avoid disruptions and potential delays. Additionally, remove any toll tags or parking passes to prevent them from being accidentally charged during transportation. Taking these precautions will ensure a smooth and uninterrupted journey for your vehicle.

7. Secure or Remove Loose Parts and Accessories

To prevent damage or loss, it’s important to secure or remove any loose parts or accessories from your car. This includes items such as bike racks, spoilers, or detachable mirrors. If a part cannot be removed, make sure it is securely fastened to avoid any potential damage during transit. Securing loose parts ensures that they don’t cause harm to your vehicle or other cars being transported alongside yours.

8. Check the Tire Pressure and Battery

Before your vehicle embarks on its journey, check the tire pressure and ensure they are properly inflated. This step is crucial to avoid any tire damage during transport. Additionally, inspect the battery to make sure it is securely connected and in good condition. If needed, you may want to consider disconnecting the battery or providing instructions to the shipping company on how to handle it during transport.

9. Reduce the Fuel Level

Most car shipping companies recommend keeping the fuel level in your vehicle at around 1/4 or 1/8 of a tank. This is to reduce the overall weight of the car and minimize the risk of fire hazards during transportation. A lower fuel level also allows for easier loading and unloading of vehicles from trailers or transport trucks. Be sure to follow the specific instructions provided by the shipping company regarding the fuel level requirement.

10. Consider Special Preparations for Non-Operable Vehicles

If your vehicle is non-operable, there are additional steps you should take to ensure its safe transportation. Inform the shipping company in advance about the non-operable status of your car, as special equipment may be required for loading and unloading. Additionally, make sure the emergency brakes are fully functional, and the steering wheel is unlocked to facilitate the moving process.

11. Review Insurance Coverage

Before shipping your vehicle, it’s crucial to review your insurance coverage. Confirm with your insurance provider if your policy includes coverage during transportation or if additional insurance is required. Understanding your insurance coverage will give you peace of mind knowing that your vehicle is protected in case of any unforeseen incidents.

12. Take Photographs of Your Vehicle

In addition to documenting pre-existing damage, taking photographs of your vehicle from multiple angles is highly recommended. These photographs will serve as evidence of the vehicle’s condition before shipping and can be valuable in case any disputes arise during or after transportation. Make sure the photographs are clear, dated, and show any existing scratches, dents, or other imperfections.

13. Notify the Shipping Company of Any Special Requirements

If your vehicle has any special requirements or instructions, make sure to inform the shipping company in advance. This could include information about modifications, removable tops, or any specific handling procedures that need to be followed. Clear communication ensures that the shipping company is well-prepared and can accommodate any unique needs your vehicle may have.

14. Review the Contract and Insurance Policy

Before finalizing the shipping process, carefully review the contract and insurance policy provided by the shipping company. Ensure that you understand all the terms and conditions, including liability coverage and delivery timeframes. If you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to seek clarification from the company. By reviewing these documents, you can avoid misunderstandings and ensure a smooth experience.

15. Final Inspection and Handover to the Shipping Company

Once you’ve completed all the necessary preparations, perform a final inspection of your vehicle. Double-check that everything is in order, including securing loose parts, removing personal belongings, and ensuring the required documents are readily available. When the shipping company arrives for pick-up, go through the inspection report together, confirming the vehicle’s condition and signing off on the handover.


Preparing your vehicle for transport is a crucial step to ensure a smooth and hassle-free experience. By following this step-by-step guide, you can protect your vehicle and minimize any potential risks during transportation. Remember to gather the necessary documents, choose a reliable shipping company, clean your car inside and out, document pre-existing damage, and secure loose parts. By taking these valuable tips into account, you’ll be well-prepared to embark on a seamless auto transport journey.


1. Can I ship personal belongings along with my vehicle?

It is generally recommended to remove all personal belongings from your vehicle before shipping. Most shipping companies do not take responsibility for any items left inside the car, and they may also have weight restrictions for safety reasons. It’s best to pack your personal belongings separately or make alternative arrangements for their transportation.

2. How long does it take to transport a vehicle?

The duration of vehicle transportation can vary depending on factors such as the distance, route, and any potential delays. It’s advisable to discuss the estimated delivery timeframes with the shipping company beforehand to have a clear understanding of the expected timeline.

3. What happens if my vehicle gets damaged during transport?

In case of any damage during transportation, it’s essential to have proper documentation and insurance coverage. Notify the shipping company immediately and document the damage with photographs and written records. Review your insurance policy to understand the claims process and contact your insurance provider for guidance.

4. Can I track the progress of my vehicle during transport?

Many reputable car shipping companies provide tracking services that allow you to monitor the progress of your vehicle. They may offer online platforms or customer support channels to provide updates on the location and estimated arrival time of your vehicle.

5. Can I request an open or enclosed carrier for my vehicle?

Depending on your preferences and the level of protection you desire for your vehicle, you may have the option to choose between an open or enclosed carrier. Open carriers are more common and cost-effective, while enclosed carriers offer additional protection from external elements. Discuss these options with the shipping company to determine the best fit for your needs.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here