When moving across the country, you may get to cringe at the thought of having to drive your car hundreds or even thousands of miles across multiple states until your reach your destination. While some people will see that opportunity as an exciting adventure, you may only view it as a risky endeavor with multiple dangers along the way. Plus, you don’t have the time to pull off a long-distance car trip of that magnitude.

And if that’s the case, then you’re going to have to hire a reputable car shipping company to transport your vehicle to the new address while you catch the plane  to your new home. And the great thing about hiring a top-rated auto shipper is that the company will take care of almost everything for you. Why almost? Well, you’re still going to have to prepare your car for shipping.

So, what should you do to prepare your car for shipping? Luckily, preparing a car for transport is not overly complicated, and the entire car shipping checklist won’t take too much time to complete either.

So, are you ready to follow these 15 steps to prepare your car for shipping?

Step 1. WASH the exterior of your car

The very first step to preparing your vehicle for shipping is to wash well its exterior. This is important for the car shipping process as a whole because it’ll help with the visual inspection you’re about to perform in Step 2.

Besides, giving your car a good wash before it’s picked up by the auto shipper might save you the time and effort to clean it upon delivery.

Step 2. DO a thorough visual inspection

Getting your car ready for shipment includes a crucial stage that is all about noting any existing damage on your car.

Why is this important? If you vehicle does get damaged during the shipping process (unlikely to happen when you choose a top-rated car shipping company), you will be able to recognize any new signs of damage by comparing the findings of your initial visual inspection.

Walk around the exterior of your car and look for any scratches, dents, paint chips, discolorations, rust spots, and other problems along its surface.

Step 3. PHOTOGRAPH any signs of pre-existing damage

If you do find any damage on the exterior of your vehicle, take your standalone digital camera (or smartphone camera) and photograph that damage, no matter how miner it may be. Take photos from various angles, including close-up shots of the imperfections. Make sure all photos are clear and have maximum resolution.

These high-quality photos will be for your own records but they will help you complete a condition report and will serve as extra insurance in case the car shipping company denied any new damage during transportation.

Step 4. CHECK your car for fluid leaks

To prepare a car for transport, you’re going to have to complete a closer inspection of your vehicle to make sure it’s 100% ready for pickup by your chosen auto shipper.

The next step is to check all the fluids in the car (oil, brake, engine coolant, washer, etc.) and top them off. Also, take a look at the engine, undercarriage and fuel tank for any signs of fluid leaks. If you do notice any leaks, you need to get them fixed as soon as you can.

Step 5. LEAVE only 1/4 of fuel

This auto transport checklist turns your attention to the fact that having more fuel in your car than necessary will only increase the weight – exactly the thing that car moving companies are trying to minimize. Remember that your automobile will not be driven – rather, it will be transported to its destination like cargo.

And simply because your car will be riding another vehicle, for a change, you should only leave around 1/4 of fuel in the gas tank. The only times your vehicle will be driven is when it’s taken on and off the car transport truck.

Step 6. CHECK the car battery

Knowing what steps to take to prepare your car for shipping will give you the confidence that everything will go smoothly and according to plan.

Next on your car shipping checklist is making sure that the car battery is fully charged – charge it if it’s not, or get a new battery if it can’t get charged properly.

Also, check whether the car battery is well-secured in its supporting brackets so that there are no dangerous shifts during the vehicle shipping process.

Step 7. EXAMINE the car tires

The task of preparing a vehicle for auto transport is to be taken seriously. It might be tempting to skip the entire car shipping preparation or to skip any essential steps just to save time and efforts. Don’t do it. Failure to identify an issue with your car could cause many delays and lead to even more serious problems along the way.

Next, make sure that the car tires are in good overall condition and are inflated properly. Check the tire pressure and measure it against the recommended values – the tires should not be over-inflated or under-inflated.

Read also: How Much Does It Cost to Ship a Car Across the Country?

Step 8. CHECK the emergency brake

Have you followed closely this car transport checklist? Good. Let’s keep on as you’re roughly in the middle of getting your automobile ready to be pickup up by the reputable car transportation company you’ve selected to help you out.

The next step is to verify whether the emergency brake of your car is in order – that is, functioning properly as it should be. Auto shippers require that emergency brakes are fully operational for added safety during the long haul.

Step 9. SECURE all external car accessories

Knowing how to prepare your car for shipping is key for having your vehicle delivered to your new address without any problems whatsoever. Next on your list is to make sure that all exterior parts of your car are perfectly protected for the trip ahead.

Remove any exterior car parts that can be safely removed – for example, non-permanent ski, bike or baggage racks.

Retract the car’s antenna or remove it altogether.

Fold the side-view mirrors, if possible.

Secure the top of your car if you happen to own a convertible. This way, you’ll keep your valuable car from possible weather damage.

Step 10. REMOVE all possessions from inside the car

This step in preparing your car for shipping is really important: you are not allowed to leave any personal items inside your automobile for insurance and safety purposes. This requirement is all about decreasing the risk of theft, loss or damage of your belongings while your automobile is being transported between Point A and Point B.  

Remove any personal effects from the interior and truck of your car, including electronic devices (GPS, for example), important documents and all other personal items regardless of their value. Under no circumstances are you allowed to leave any dangerous goods or hazardous substances.

You can leave a child seat inside your car and the standard car equipment in the truck (see below).

Step 11. LEAVE the standard car equipment

Following the car shipping requirements, you don’t have to remove all the items inside your vehicle. As mentioned above, you can leave a child seat if you wish. But that’s not all.

You are also permitted to leave the standard car equipment inside the car trunk – the spare tire, car jack, emergency kit, and variety of hand tools. Also, make sure the first aid kit is there as well.

Important: You must keep your license plates on your vehicle at all times.

Step 12. Disable the alarm system, parking passes and toll tags

These very steps to preparing your vehicle for auto transport will make sure no problems of any kind arise during the actual car transportation.

What you need to do next is disable the alarm system of your vehicle before the latter is picked up by your car shipper. If you don’t, then the car transportation company will be authorized to stop an activated car alarm system any way they can. And that’s not something you’d want to happen to your automobile.

Also, remove or deactivate automatic parking passes or toll tags from your vehicle – you just won’t need them and they may only cause you headaches if turned on during the haul.

Step 13. PREPARE an extra set of keys

The car shipping company you’ve picked will need your car keys in order to drive your car on and off the transportation truck. And when that happens, you don’t want to be handling over to the truck driver the only set of keys you have for your automobile.

Remember to think a few steps ahead. So, if you don’t already have an extra set of car keys, have it ready before the auto shipper arrives on the pre-arranged day.

Step 14. INFORM the auto shipper about any car issues

This car shipping checklist is drawing to an end – there are only two steps left before you finish preparing your car for transport.

Note down any mechanical problems your car may have at the time of pickup, then prepare handling instructions in writing for the driver before the auto shipper arrives. These written instructions will be useful to whoever’s driving your car on and off the car carrier.

Keep in mind that mechanical issues may cause time delays – something that nobody wants. So, remember to inform the truck driver about any peculiarities they should know about your car.

Also, note the odometer readings and keep those readings in a safe place.

Step 15. CHECK your auto insurance

The final step to preparing your car for shipping across the country is to check with your auto insurance agent what your coverage is while your vehicle is being transported to the new address. Depending on the circumstances, you may wish to purchase additional coverage through your car transportation company.

The idea here is for you to be comfortable with the amount of coverage you have during the car transportation process. Speak with your car shipper about the exact terms of their insurance policy to make an informed decision.

However, before you start working on your car shipping checklist to get your vehicle ready for pickup, you’ll need to have booked an auto shipper that’s experienced, reputable and affordable. If you haven’t found a good car shipping company yet, you can do this easily straight from the RideShipper app.

First, get several car shipping quotes from top-rated car transportation companies in your area, then compare the car moving quotes you’ve received. Also, don’t forget to read reviews about the car shippers that will tell which companies have a good reputation among their customers. Reputation is key as it will show you which car shipping companies have managed to offer great services at reasonable prices.

See also: Top 5 Tips for Shipping a Car to Another State