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10 Ways to Prepare a Car for Shipping

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Whether you are shipping your auto domestically or internationally, you should make sure that you have thoroughly prepared your car for its journey. Once you've received your car shipping estimates and chosen a company to ship your car, follow guidelines below to prepare your vehicle for shipment.

There are many benefits of preparing your car, such as:

  • Reducing the risk of damage to the interior and exterior of your car
  • Preventing delays while in customs or other inspections
  • Saving you the time and money to replace or repair parts of your car

1. Check the levels and for any leaking fluids

Any fluid leaking out of the vehicle could cause unsafe conditions for your car and the people handling it. Additionally, leaky fluid means you car will slowly be losing an important material that it needs to run.

You could be held liable for:

  • Oil leaks
  • Coolant leaks
  • Battery fluid leaks
  • Gas leaks

TIP: Leave only 1/4 gallon fuel in the gas tank, and extra gasoline in the auto's engine can leak out in transit. Less fuel also means that your car will weigh less.

You might need to reduce fluid levels in the expansion tank. This will allow the air and antifreeze in the system to expand with rising temperatures and pressure. Having this set will relieve any issues when you get the car back at your new destination.

2. Check the battery charge in your car

This is very important when shipping overseas. You may be charged an extra fee if your car won't start up when the shipper needs to roll-off the car.

It also puts you in a tough spot if you can't drive the car to its new location once it gets off the carrier. Then, you'll also be paying a tow truck to get the car to your new home.

3. Disable anti-theft devices and alarms

These devices should be disabled, so that they don't startle the driver, prevent access into the vehicle or cause any other issues. Although it may seem counter-intuitive, the people transporting your vehicle need to have unrestricted access -- in case there is any issue during transportation.

4. Remove personal items from your car

Remove valuable items like jewelry, important documents or electronic devices from your vehicle. Any items that you leave in the car are not the responsibility of the moving company, so choose carefully what you take out.

5. Seal any openings or tears in your convertible top

If you have a convertible top, then you'll want to make sure that moisture won't get inside your car. Your car may go through different weather conditions, so keeping everything tightly closed will help guarantee the inside will stay perfectly intact with no mold or road debris.

6. Remove, protect or adjust any loose parts on the vehicle

Remove the antenna and any other detachable parts. For parts that can't be removed -- like spoilers, fog lights and side mirrors -- wrap them with protective covering.

TIP: You can also fold back your mirrors and retract the car antennae.

7. Wash and clean your car before shipping

Take your car to the car wash for a thorough clean. This will allow you to clearly inspect the vehicle for damage before it is shipped.

Inspect your vehicle thoroughly to be aware of its condition before the move. You should be present for the movers' initial inspection and take photos of your car to document its condition.

8. Enroll in a moving insurance policy before the shipment

There will always be situations that are out of your control. If you know your car is going to be on a long route to your new destination, it may be wise to purchase a moving insurance policy. By signing onto a policy, you will have more peace of mind that if anything happens, you're covered.

Speak to the auto mover about what insurance coverage they offer for your vehicle. If the auto mover does not provide insurance, they might work with a third party insurance company.

9. Always carry one of your keys with you

You will need to have your keys and a spare -- one for the moving company and one for you. The moving company will need a key for transport and delivery -- whether that's just driving it off its carrier/ship or directly to you.

You also don't want to arrive at your new location and discover that you have lost your original set and are unable to drive your car.

Other tips for shipping your car safely

It is always best to know the status of your vehicle before moving it. Even though you're going to relinquish your vehicle to someone else during the moving process, you still have some responsibilities to ensure the safety of your vehicle.

Be clear when informing the company about the specifications of the vehicle, then let them decide whether they can ship it or not. Some auto shippers are capable of moving cars that do not run, but not all movers will have the equipment needed.

After the delivery of your car, inspect it carefully for damages or missing items:

  • Refer to the initial inspection documentation
  • You should be present at all inspections
  • Dispute any potential discrepancies immediately -- do not wait

Patrick Hanan  Posted by Patrick Hanan on December 20, 2018

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