Shipping Your Car? Don’t Forget These 6 Critical Pre-Shipping Checks

Shipping Your Car? Don’t Forget These 6 Critical Pre-Shipping Checks

Shipping Your Car

We always feel anxious when someone else touches our car. No matter how much we may trust the person that handles our vehicles, there’s a tension that remains until the vehicle is back in our possession. While this is true for even our most trusted friends and family, it’s especially true when complete strangers get behind the wheel.

If you’re preparing to ship your vehicle, whether nationally or internationally, you’re no doubt feeling this tension as you read this. You’re probably wondering if you can really trust the shipping company. You may be imagining a scenario where your car is damaged or dropped off at the wrong location. Most of all, you may be wondering what you need to do to make sure your vehicle gets to its destination intact and on time.

These are all valid concerns, but when we’re tense, we make mistakes. We can become so focused on the worst case scenario we’ve played out in our heads that we lose sight of the critical tasks we need to accomplish now. If you’re preparing to ship your car, you need to ensure that you set your nervousness aside for now, and perform some critical pre-shipping checks to avoid these scenarios.

Selecting a reputable car transport service is the first step towards peace of mind, but there are six critical checks you need to do as well. This will not only help you ensure that your vehicle arrives safely, but it will also help you get rid of some anxiety as well.


1)   Document any Pre-Existing Damage to Your Vehicle

The most common fear people have when they ship a vehicle is that it will be damaged. No matter how good the carrier is, there’s never a 100% guarantee that this won’t happen. The most important thing you can do to protect yourself and your car is to conduct a thorough vehicle inspection

Prior to inspecting your vehicle, make sure you clean it thoroughly. Dirt will sometimes cover up small scratches and dents that you can’t afford to overlook. You’re no doubt already aware of anything that stands out as far as damage is concerned.

You probably already know about some pre-existing damages on your vehicle, but don’t be tempted to overlook the things you already know about. As you conduct this inspection, pretend that your car is new and that you’re not aware of any damage prior to your inspection. That way you’ll be more thorough. You can use this checklist to ensure you don’t miss anything. Be aware – a carrier will not ship a vehicle with a cracked windshield or inoperable emergency brake.

Take pictures of your car from every angle, both the interior and exterior. Even if you don’t find any damage now, a picture will help you verify your car is in the same condition when it arrives at your destination.

Your shipping agent will conduct their own inspection of your vehicle as well. If you can complete the inspection with them, so much the better. Even if you can’t, you still need to perform your own inspection. You’ll then need to give your signature that you agree with the shipping agent’s assessment of the vehicle. Use the notes from your own inspection to compare your assessment against theirs.

2)   Remove All of Your Personal Items

To prevent against loss or theft, remove all of your personal items from your vehicle before you ship it. Even if your vehicle isn’t being shipped overseas, the shipping company’s driver will be stopping to rest. This opens up the possibility that your vehicle could be broken into. More often than not, the shipping company’s insurance won’t cover stolen personal items, and your insurance may not either.

You should also take this opportunity to disable any vehicle alarms, and remove any antennas and external attachments as well.


3)   Check Your Fluids

No more than a half tank is allowed for in-country shipments and no more than a quarter tank for international shipments. To be safe, keep your tank less than a quarter full regardless of where it’s being shipped.

Your oil, brake fluid, washer fluid, power steering fluid, and antifreeze should be at normal levels

car insurance

4)   Validate Insurance Requirements for Both Parties

Because accidents can happen, even if everybody is being responsible, it’s critical that you ensure there is sufficient insurance coverage for both yourself and the shipping company.

For your insurance, make any adjustments to your coverage that you need. You should also verify that your provider is willing to cover any damages incurred while your car is being shipped by a third party.

For your shipping company, check their liability coverage to ensure that it would cover the appraised value of your car. Quality shipping companies always have policies that will cover at least $50,000 in damages. If the shipper doesn’t have coverage, or it isn’t sufficient, don’t ship with them.


5)   Ensure Your Documentation is Accurate

Prior to accepting your vehicle, your shipping company is going to require some documents from you. To save time, gather these documents, and check them for accuracy, prior to having your vehicle picked up:

  • Proof of insurance
  • Vehicle registration
  • Proof of ownership (Your vehicle title or your auto loan documents)

Once you’ve gathered them, check each document for accuracy. Most importantly, ensure that your name, your address, your VIN, your license plate number, and your insurance information is correct. This is important because it will help the shipping agent make sure they have the correct vehicle in the event of an accident or if it becomes lost.


6)   Validate the Shipping Information

When you have your vehicle picked up, you’ll both validate the results of the carrier’s inspection and receive your receipt. Check your receipt to ensure that your vehicle information, including the make, model, color, VIN, license plate, and other identifying information is correct.

You need to also ensure that the shipping method you’ve selected, whether open transport or closed transport, as well as the destination, is correct.


Bryce Newell is an automotive enthusiast who loves to write about the latest news, products, and DIY projects. While Bryce is an amateur in the field, he is passionate about cars and has been since he spent weekends in the garage helping his dad rebuild a 68 Dodge Charger as a kid.

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