7 steps to preparing your car for transport

So, you’re relocating, and you’ve decided to ship your car. Good idea! Auto shipping is the safer, more time-efficient, and more affordable option! Hopefully, you’ve already found a reliable company and talked insurance, too – if not, check out this article. 

With your company picked out, it’s time to get your car ready for the road! Ben Franklin said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” But, really. Preparation lessens your risk of vehicle damage, possible theft, and, ultimately helps transporters stay on schedule so they can get the show (and your car) on the road.  

Get an instant online quote or call us at 1300 396 099 to get your car moved.

1. Clear it out

Some vehicle transportation services refuse to ship cars with belongings still inside. Others allow you to store items – up to a certain weight – in the trunk or inside the car as long as the items aren’t visible from the windows. To avoid damage and/or theft, we advise you to just clear your car of any and all items, especially valuables. If you do leave items in your car, there is no way to prevent theft or damage, and carriers are not liable for your stuff if either takes place.

Here are some common items people forget to remove:

•     Aftermarket upgrades

•     Custom alarm systems

•     Mounted GPS devices

•     Toll passes

If you can’t remove your alarm system, make sure you disable it. If your alarm accidentally sounds off during transit, this can delay the trip and, subsequently, the delivery of your vehicle.

2. Clean it up

Cleaning the interior and exterior of your car is another important step. Do a thorough job getting rid of dirt, grime, and junk in your trunk. Hey, maybe even break out the vacuum cleaner. 

All this will benefit you in two ways:

1) you’ll find items you wouldn’t have found otherwise, which need to be removed (see bullet #1 if you forget why)

2) you’ll find damage you would have missed, which should be reported during the assessment of your car’s condition. 

3. Call your mechanic

Okay, so, you followed step #2, and your car looks ready for shipment. But, to make sure it’s mechanically ready, make a visit to your local auto technician. He or she can do any last-minute fine-tuning if necessary and check for leaks, which, if they occur, are a serious hazard to the truckers transporting your car. 

Above all, make sure your mechanic checks these three things:

  • The battery is fully charged
  • All fluids are topped off to the right levels
  • Tires are inflated to the proper pressure
  • The fuel tank is at 1/4

If your mechanic discovers larger problems that he/she can’t fix in time for shipment, at least report the problems to your car transport company. That way, the carrier driver knows what to expect/what to watch out for when handling your vehicle.

4. Secure the car

Vehicles with moving or movable parts – such as a sunroof, convertible top, roof rack crossbars, exterior antennas – should be secured before drop-off. By secured, we mean either removed and transported separately or held in place on the vehicle. If a part comes loose during transit, this could damage your car or, worse, cause danger to your driver or a nearby driver on the road.

Bonus tip: Fold your side mirrors!

5. Get a spare key

Companies need a set of keys to move your car on and off the carrier truck. If you only have one set, we suggest you make a copy before handing them off. Make a copy! Things happen!

6. Drop-off assessment 

After clearing out, cleaning up, and bringing your car for a technical inspection, it’s ready for its official assessment.

Together with your carrier company’s assessor, perform a full inspection of your car, inside and out. Record any scratches, dings, scuffs, with as much detail as possible. You might have taken note of these during steps #1 or #2. If so, show the assessor your notes and the corresponding damage on the car. Take pictures for evidence and have at least one copy of the snapshots. 

As we said in #3, it’s also important to inform your transport company of any pre-existing mechanical issues with your car. Lastly, don’t forget to write down the odometer reading! And keep all notes from the examination of the vehicle in a safe place. You may need them later! 

7. Port of call inspection

Finally! Your car has reached its destination. Time to repeat step #6! 

Get an instant online quote or call us at 1300 396 099 to get your car moved.

Compare your car’s current condition to your initial review and make clear (written) notes on the bill of landing provided by the transport company. This document should already contain a list of any previous damage to or problems with the car, as well as any new damages/changes to the condition of the vehicle. 

If there is new damage, your transporter’s insurance should cover any repairs necessary to return the car to its previous condition.

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood from Pexels

So, here is a quick summary on how to prepare your car for shipping:


  1. Clear it out


    Some vehicle transportation services refuse to ship cars with belongings still inside. Others allow you to store items – up to a certain weight – in the trunk or inside the car as long as the items aren’t visible from the windows.


  2. Clean it up


    Cleaning the interior and exterior of your car is another important step. Do a thorough job getting rid of dirt, grime, and junk in your trunk. Hey, maybe even break out the vacuum cleaner.


  3. Call your mechanic


    Make sure your car is mechanically ready, make a visit to your local auto technician. He or she can do any last-minute fine-tuning if necessary and check for leaks, which, if they occur, are a serious hazard to the truckers transporting your car. 


  4. Secure the car


    Vehicles with moving or movable parts – such as a sunroof, convertible top, roof rack crossbars, exterior antennas – should be secured before drop-off. By secured, we mean either removed and transported separately or held in place on the vehicle.


  5. Get a spare key


    Companies need a set of keys to move your car on and off the carrier truck. If you only have one set, we suggest you make a copy before handing them off. Make a copy! Things happen!


  6. Drop-off assessment


    Together with your carrier company’s assessor, perform a full inspection of your car, inside and out. Record any scratches, dings, scuffs, with as much detail as possible. You might have taken note of these during steps #1 or #2. If so, show the assessor your notes and the corresponding damage on the car. Take pictures for evidence and have at least one copy of the snapshots. 


  7. Port of call inspection


    Compare your car’s current condition to your initial review and make clear (written) notes on the bill of landing provided by the transport company. This document should already contain a list of any previous damage to or problems with the car, as well as any new damages/changes to the condition of the vehicle.