How to Prepare Your Vehicle for Car Transport – a Quick Guide

I’ve been asked this question many times, here’s a cheat sheet on how to do it! Thank you David Donahue.

Whenever you’re planning a long-distance move, driving your own vehicle doesn’t
always make sense. You may have multiple cars or may prefer not to put the extra
miles on your own vehicle. Whatever the case, car shipping is a great way to ensure the
safe delivery of your vehicle to a new destination.
If you’ve never used an interstate car transport service before, it can be helpful to do a
bit of research in advance on the company you will be using and the shipping process in
general. Knowing what to expect and being prepared will help everything go more
To help get you started, we’ve assembled this quick guide to car transport.

Winding Road 201805

Questions to Ask the Auto Transport Company

Before choosing an auto shipping company, it’s a good idea to ask a few questions
about their process and expectations. Some things to look out for include:

– Will the vehicles be transported in covered or uncovered carriers?
– Will the vehicle be shipped door-to-door, or will you need to pick it up at a terminal?
– How long will the car take to ship?
– Will you pay in full upon delivery or do you need to pay a deposit up front?
How much does it cost to ship a car to your destination?
– Will you be charged by the mile or a flat rate?

Door-to-door shipping is a convenient option that allows for your car to be picked up at
your house and dropped off at the final destination. However, this convenience does
come at a higher price; you may wish to save some money by arranging to drop the car
off at a terminal and pick it up from the shipping terminal in your new city.
Also bear in mind that it takes longer to ship a car than it does to drive it in most cases.
Expect shipping to take up to two weeks when crossing long distances.

What Kind of Insurance Do I Need to Ship My Car?

Insurance is an important part of keeping a vehicle safe and protected from damage.
The shipping company should do its part to protect the vehicle during transit, but
unexpected damage can still occur. Common scenarios include damage from road
debris, loading/unloading incidents and inclement weather during the transport period.
Having insurance in place on the vehicle prior to shipping will help to offset these costs
if they become a problem.
Before arranging for car transport, call your car insurance company to ask about how
the policy will apply to the vehicle while in transit. Ensure that you will be covered for
damage that occurs during transportation. Also contact the transportation company to
see whether they have additional protection that can be purchased or that is included in
the price of delivery. You should be able to obtain an insurance certificate to back up
whatever answer they provide.
Once you know what insurance is available, you’ll want to decide whether that coverage
is enough to offer peace of mind or if you’ll want additional protection. You can buy
specialized shipping insurance from your insurance company or even the transport
company itself that can help fill in any gaps of missing coverage. This is especially important for collector cars and other vehicles that especially valuable.
Before agreeing to coverage, ensure that your vehicle has been appraised and that the
value of the insurance matches the worth of your car.

Preparing Your Car for Transport

When shipping a car, you’ll want to be sure that the vehicle is clean and free of any
extra items. To reduce the risk of theft or potential damage, be sure to remove any
personal items as well as aftermarket upgrades:

– Custom alarm systems
– Aftermarket sound systems
– Mounted GPS devices

Also be sure to remove any toll passes and anything else that might attract attention
from potential thieves while the car is being transported. If you have an alarm system
that can’t be removed, disable it to prevent it being triggered by the shipping company
Once the car has been cleaned out of these items, go ahead and wash the car of any dirt, grime and debris. This gives you a good opportunity to see the car’s current
condition so that it will be easier to spot damage later if something happens.
Take note of any existing damage such as nicks, scratches or dents. Take photos as
necessary to record this damage. This will protect you later if the insurance company or
transport company refuse to pay for damages incurred during travel. Keep your notes
and damage photos stored somewhere safe that you’ll be able to find easily once you’ve reached your destination.
You may also want to have your vehicle inspected by a mechanic to look for any non-
aesthetic damages or issues. It’s important to note that most vehicle transport services
require the car to be operable. If your car cannot be effectively and safely driven, you’ll
need to make special arrangements and may not be able to use a standard delivery
service. Have your car mechanic pay special attention to the emergency brake, which will be used to secure the car during shipping. Any fluid leaks should also be dealt with before shipping as these could be potentially dangerous. If you can avoid it, don’t ship a car with a full gas tank; the extra weight could cost you in shipping charges.
Finally, finish your preparations by securing any loose parts and pieces such as
antennas, convertible tops, sun roofs, roof racks and anything else that is detachable or
could spring open. Securing these items reduces the number of things that could
possibly go wrong during transport.

Dropping Off the Vehicle

Once you’ve completed your inspection, the shipping company will most likely want to
inspect the car themselves. Take this moment to bring up any preexisting damage so
that there is a record of it being discussed; this can save you a lot of hassles later if
something does occur while the car is in transit. You’ll also want to have a spare key made so that you can hold onto the original keys and give a spare to the transport driver.
Take this final opportunity to ask any questions and be sure you know the answer to the
question of, “How much to ship a car to my destination”. You don’t want to be met with any surprises on the other side.
After everything is squared away with the transport company, you can rest easy
knowing that your car is prepared for the road. Damage during transport by a
trustworthy service is uncommon, but you’ll be well-protected if the unexpected happens
after following the tips in this guide.

About dontgetwrenched

Elayne Kling, was the owner of a downtown Manhattan auto repair shop for 25 years and recently in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Elayne knows the particular ins and outs of the auto repair world and keeps up her blog because people will always need help navigating the potential pitfalls of that world. Due to the crazy NYC real estate market she has since closed down her shop and started a new business called Projects Unlimited Inc., helping other small businesses.
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