How to prepare your car for shipping? | CitizenShipper

For Shippers · Vehicle Shipping · 13 July 2020

An automotive car carrier truck driving down the highway with a full load of new vehicles.

There are lots of reasons why you might need to ship your car. Relocating for work, selling to a dealership, vacationing, or moving to a military base are just a few. The carriers on CitizenShipper transport cars for all these reasons and more, and a common question they hear from customers is how to prepare their car before hand-off. Is there anything you can do to guarantee the best possible journey for your car?

The answer, as any car transporter from New York to Nairobi will tell you, is yes. It is not essential – any car transporting service worth their salt can manage all cars in all weathers, whatever their condition. But to optimize delivery, or simply for peace of mind, there are a number of things you can do to ready your car for transit.

Across America, the legal position of car transporters is that while a car is in your care, you are responsible for it. Prior to pick-up, however, liability naturally lies with the owner. And a responsible car owner will take certain steps to make sure their car is ready for its voyage.

Ship Your Car, SUV, or Any Vehicle

We’ve compiled a list of five top tips to give your transporter the best possible chance to afford your car the shipment it deserves. Take a look.

1. Visual examination

It’s well worth familiarizing yourself with the exact condition of your car before handing it over. If you have time, wash your car from roof to rims. That way, any minor scratch, dent, discoloration, paint chip, or other wear and tear will be clearly visible. Plus, now you have a clean car.

Take a walk around it and inspect the surfaces, the bodywork, and the wheels. Take a few photos to help you remember, and to make sure you have grounding for a legal claim if the worst happens. It is very unlikely for a trusted shipping service to let your car be damaged in any way on the road. But now you will have no headache in proving it if it does for any reason.

It goes without saying that the photos you take should be high quality and taken from multiple angles. Then keep them in your records. For the overwhelming majority of car shipments, you can simply forget about them. But better to be safe than sorry.

2. Maintenance check

As part of getting to know your car’s condition before release, check it is in good functioning condition. Make sure to note any leaks from the undercarriage, and get them fixed before hand-off. It may help to read the odometer too. (Bear in mind your car will not be driven during transit except to load it on or off the transport truck.)

Here’s a handy checklist of other details to review:

  • Check the fluids in your car. There are a lot of them: oil, brake, engine coolant, power steering, and washer. The most important thing is to ensure there are no leaks, but the less fluid in your vehicle, the lower the centripetal force as your car goes around sharp corners.
  • The battery should be fully charged. It always should be, but now’s a good time to make sure.
  • Check if your tires are either over-inflated or under-inflated and rectify if you can.
  • The gas tank should be a quarter full or less to reduce weight.

3. Security

Make sure any removable parts of your car have been safely stowed inside the car or left behind/brought separately. This includes bike racks and luggage racks. This will keep your car’s exterior secure.

For security from theft, loss, or damage, it’s also wise to remove personal items to decrease the risk. Cautious car owners may relieve their car of custom spoilers and GPSs before transit. While the chance of theft is slim to none, your car will move around a bit en route, and the less there is to be dislodged by a bumpy road, the better.

Finally, jolts to cars have been known to set off their alarms while they are being transported. If your car alarm is very sensitive, do your driver’s eardrums a favor and disable them until your car arrives!

4. Quirks

Like people, no car is normal. They all have their idiosyncrasies which give them personality, small or large. Does the radio turn on at random times? Is the passenger side door stiff? Does the windscreen washer spray at a funny angle, or does the engine make a funny sound in high winds?

Use your discretion to work out if any of the individualities of your vehicle will be useful for the transporter to know. They may become concerned about an oddity that you take for granted, and worry about how it might have happened or if they should try to fix it to protect their fee. So let a transporter know if there’s anything strange about your car that might affect delivery or the transporter’s conscience.

In particular, any delicacies or weak points should be raised with the transporter before hand-off. They will take pains to protect that feature above all.

5. Who to choose?

Perhaps we’re getting ahead of ourselves. The first step is to find the right car transporter for your budget, schedule, and destination. We made a recent guide for you to read and find the right one for you. Please take a look if you haven’t chosen yet.

Working with a limited budget but not wishing to skimp on quality of service? Give CitizenShipper a go. It’s an online marketplace that allows screened and vetted professional drivers to bid and outbid each other on your job. The market drives down prices and increases competition, allowing you to pick and choose the right driver with the right expertise and the right quote for you. 

Post your shipment on CitizenShipper for free, and let the quotes come to you. It’s an easier-to-use and cost-effective service that you car will thank you for.

Updated September 17, 2021

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