Preparing Your Car for Shipping Across the Country

Preparing Your Car for Shipping Across the Country

Shipping a car across the country can be a significant undertaking, and proper preparation is essential to ensure a smooth transit. A well-prepared vehicle not only aids in efficient transport but also reduces the risk of damage. Moving your car across the country can be a daunting task, but with careful preparation and planning, it can be a smooth and stress-free experience. Here’s a comprehensive guide to get your car ready for its journey.

1. Thoroughly Clean the Exterior

Begin by giving your car a good wash. This will help in identifying any existing dings, scratches, or damages. A clean car also aids the transport company’s inspection process, ensuring they note the vehicle’s pre-shipping condition accurately.

2. Document the Vehicle’s Condition

Once clean, take detailed photos of your car from various angles, including close-ups of any existing damage. These photos will serve as evidence in the unlikely event of a dispute regarding potential transport-induced damages.

3. Empty the Interior

Remove all personal belongings from the car. Shipping companies are not responsible for personal items left inside, and these can add unnecessary weight. Plus, items left loose inside can move during transit, potentially causing damage.

4. Secure or Remove Protruding Parts

If your car has any protruding parts like antennas, mirrors, or spoilers that can be folded or removed, do so. This reduces the risk of damage during transport.

5. Check Fluids and Battery

Ensure all fluids are at recommended levels, with no leaks. A leaking car might not be accepted for transport due to the risk it poses to vehicles below it on a multi-car carrier. Additionally, ensure the battery is fully charged and securely mounted.

6. Reduce Fuel Level

A full tank adds unnecessary weight. Aim for about a quarter-tank of fuel; this is enough for loading and unloading, but not so much that it adds significant weight.

7. Disable the Alarm

It’s crucial to deactivate any alarms to prevent them from being triggered during transit. If deactivation isn’t possible, provide clear instructions for turning it off.

8. Check Tire Pressure

Ensure all tires are properly inflated. This aids in the safe loading and unloading of the vehicle.

9. Prepare for the New Climate

If you’re shipping your car to a location with a drastically different climate, make necessary preparations. For instance, if you’re moving from a warm region to a snowy one, consider changing to winter tires or checking the antifreeze levels.

10. Keep a Spare Key

You’ll need to hand over a set of keys to the shipping company. It’s wise to provide them with a spare and keep the original set with you.


Preparing your car for cross-country shipping might seem like a daunting task, but with careful planning, the process becomes manageable. By following the steps outlined above, you ensure a safer and smoother transport experience for your vehicle. Whether it’s a beloved family car or a prized classic, a little preparation goes a long way in ensuring it reaches its destination in perfect condition.

Choosing a reputable auto transport company and maintaining open communication throughout the process are key to a successful cross-country car shipment.

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