Car Shipping Checklist
Here are all of the things you should do first.
Where to Start?
Before you start working on the car shipping checklist for getting your car ready to be shipped, you need to choose the right car auto shipper for you. There are several choices on the market today.
See our personalized car shipping routes, such as California to New York Car Shippers or Texas to Florida Car Shippers. Or if you’re shipping your car outside of the continental United States, we’ve got you covered:
Research Shipping Companies
Speaking of peace of mind, put your car in the hands of capable shippers.
Take the time to research different auto transportation companies. Read online reviews and make sure the company you choose is backed by a solid reputation and glowing reviews.
Experience matters when choosing a car transport company. Don’t miss this part of the car shipping checklist. Make sure you do your research and choose a reputable shipping company for your vehicle.
Open vs Enclosed Auto Transport
Most people opt for open transport, but you should consider enclosed transport if you have a luxury or vintage car or if you want the best possible service. Learn more about the differences between open and enclosed auto transport.
Get Multiple Car Shipping Quotes
During the research phase of the car shipping checklist, you will likely find a few good options. Take the time to get a few car shipping quotes before finalizing your decision.
You want to make sure you’re getting the best option for a price you can afford. The cheapest quote may not be the right one, and comparing a few options will give you a better picture of what you’re paying for with each auto shipping company.
How much does it cost to ship a car?
What is the cheapest way to ship a car?
The cheapest viable option to ship your car is opting for open transport, terminal-to-terminal delivery. However, there are other less common options that could save you money such as shipping your car by train. Look at our full guide to the cheapest way to ship your car cross country.
In the same vein, a lot of people then ask us about other alternatives to save money so we created full posts to answer them thoroughly. Here they are:
- Will my mover ship my car?: Theoretically, yes. However, it usually makes more sense to hire a car shipper separately.
- Should I ship my car or sell it and buy another?: Unless you’re already thinking about changing your car soon, it’ll be more expensive and more of a hassle to sell your current car and buy a new one.
- Should I drive or ship my car cross country?: Driving your car is probably cheaper but consider the convenience and the cost of things such as lodging, gas, depreciation, and food for this road trip.
- Should I ship my car or tow it behind my moving truck?: This is a viable and affordable option but if you’re inexperienced in driving a large moving truck, adding your car to the back could be overwhelming.
Call Your Insurance Company
You want to make sure you have the right insurance to cover your vehicle while it’s in transit. A call to your insurance agent will allow you to verify your covers. If you need additional coverage, your agent might be able to provide recommendations.
Our Car Shipping Checklist for Preparing Your Vehicle
After choosing the right shipping company for your vehicle, it’s time to move onto preparing your vehicles. This is a very important part of the car shipping checklist and you want to do it right.
All of the items below should be checked off before shipping your car.
- Clean Your Vehicle – After a thorough cleaning, it’s easier to spot any cosmetic damage.
- Document all Cosmetic Damage – It’s a good idea to take pictures of your vehicle and actually write down any cosmetic damage (dents or scratches) you find. Make sure your pictures include a date and time stamp.
- Take Plenty of Pictures – With the timestamp option turned on, take pictures of the inside and outside of the vehicle. Make sure you get pictures of the undercarriage, as well.
- Remove Personal Items – When you take your car to be shipped, you should have already removed all personal belongings from the vehicles.
- Remove Other Items – If the exterior of your car has a bike rack, ski rack, or luggage rack, remove it. You should even remove radio antennas and other exterior items that could fall off or snap off, such as spoilers, ground effects, or spoilers.
- Make Sure Your Battery is Charged – Your battery needs to have a full charge and you should also make sure it’s securely mounted.
- Check Your Tires – All tires should be inflated to the manufacturer’s recommended tire pressure.
- Look for Leaks or Other issues – If you find any fluid leaks or mechanical issues, the car shipping company should know about them. They may have to take special precautions if there’s a mechanical issue with your car.
- Top off All Fluids – You can easily top off the fluids by taking your car for a full-service oil change.
- Check the Gas Tank – It’s best to leave your vehicle with a quarter tank of gas or less to make it weigh less during shipping.
- Disable any Alarms – If you have an alarm system on your vehicle, make sure it has been disabled
- Secure the Top, if the vehicle is a convertible
- Fold in your Side Mirrors
- Make sure the Emergency Brake Works
- Have a Spare Key Made
- Document Your Mileage
Once you’ve gone through this car shipping checklist, you’re ready to transport your car. You will need to verify any damage or issues found by the shipping company and sign the bill of lading before the vehicle will be shipped. Make sure your documentation matches with theirs to ensure everybody is on the same page.
Shipping a motorcycle? We’ve got a guide for that too: How to Ship Your Motorcycle.
Our Car Shipping Checklist For Vehicle Arrival
After your vehicle arrives, you want to check a few things. The car shipping checklist won’t be as long as the list for preparation, but it’s just as important.
Inspect Your Vehicle
Just as you did when you prepared your vehicle for shipping, you want to inspect your vehicle for damage. Make sure the damage to your vehicle matches the damage found before shipping the car.
If there is any new damage, you don’t want to sign the bill of lading until it has been documented. You will need to take pictures of the damage and document it as you would for a regular insurance claim.
During the inspection report, check the odometer and make sure to start the vehicle. The goal is to note any new damage or change in condition. If the vehicle is in the same condition, you can sign the bill of lading and move on. If not, you may need to file an insurance claim.
Filing an Insurance Claim
If necessary, you will want to file an insurance claim as soon as possible. Make sure you documented the damage with pictures. Include both the before and after pictures for the insurance company, along with copies of the bill of lading.
Update Your Auto Insurance and Driver’s License
When shipping your vehicle across the country or to a new state, you will need to update your auto insurance and your driver’s license as soon as possible. Most states give you up to 30 days to complete this process, but the sooner the better.
You should also update your insurance if you added coverage for car shipping. If it was a separate policy, you may not need to do anything.
Leave a Review for the Car Shipping Company
The last item on the car shipping checklist is leaving a review. When you choose a shipping company and you leave a review, whether positive, negative, or somewhere in the middle, it helps other customers make the right choice.
It’s a good idea to point out anything you liked and anything you didn’t like about the process. Honest reviews help other customers. If you had a bad experience, it might be a good idea to wait a few days so you’re not leaving a review completely driven by emotion.
To help you get started, here are some of our car shipping company reviews:
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