13 Tips to Prepare Your Car For Transport

Making sure your vehicle makes it to where you will be transporting it to without a scratch is one of the most important parts of the process. Therefore, you will have key car shipping preparations to make so your vehicle is ready to be loaded up on the carrier.

Here’s your detailed guide to preparing your car, which will give you peace of mind and make the car shipping process as smooth as can be.

1. Make Sure You Have the Keys!

Easy right? But you'd be surprised how many people end up scrambling for the keys, even though they were ready for the carrier! Hand over all necessary keys to the driver, including those for the ignition, doors, and any locked compartments. Keeping a spare set is also wise.

2. Give Your Vehicle a Thorough Wash Inside and Out

Begin by giving your car a good wash. This step is important for more than just keeping your car looking spiffy; it helps in spotting any scratches or dents when filling out the vehicle condition report (BOL - Bill of Lading), at both the pick up and delivery, which is the only way damages can be claimed if not as it was at pickup.

3. Document with Photos

After cleaning, take clear photos of your car from various angles to capture existing damages and the overall condition. These photos are useful if any damage claims arise after transport. Check and record any damage right after cleaning your vehicle. This proactive approach can save you time and trouble during the pick-up process.

Bonus Tip: Although some drivers may take photographs, having your own set provides extra security. Adding a video walkthrough could further bolster your documentation.

4. Perform Basic Maintenance Checks

Check that your has the battery is securely fastened and charged, and that the tires are properly inflated. These maintenance checks help avoid problems during transport.

5. Inspect for Fluid Leaks

Speaking of maintenance, check for any significant fluid leaks and repair them. If there are minor leaks that cannot be fixed immediately, inform the driver, as this impacts where your car is placed on the trailer to prevent damage to other vehicles.

6. Secure or Remove External Accessories

Detach any accessories like bike racks or custom spoilers that can be damaged or might cause damage. That goes for your antenna ball too. Also, retract or remove parts such as antennas and side mirrors if possible.

7. Notify About Personal Belongings

If you must transport personal items in your vehicle, tell the transporter in advance. These items won’t be covered by the carrier’s insurance and need to be packed securely. As a rule, no more than 100 lbs of personal items should be put in the vehicle.

8. Record the Miles on Your Odometer

To guard against unauthorized use, take a picture of your odometer when the car is picked up. This simple action adds an extra layer of protection during transport. If you can, have the driver write the mileage on the report.

9. Address Engine and Mechanical Issues

Ensure your vehicle is in working condition. Resolve any engine or mechanical issues, or notify the transport company if the vehicle is non-operational so they can prepare accordingly.

10. Minimize Fuel Levels

Reduce the weight of your car by keeping the fuel level low, between 1/8 full. This amount is enough for loading and unloading without adding extra weight. Also helpful to mention if you added some personal items!

11. Disable Any Alarms

To prevent disruptions during transport, disable your car's alarm system, or provide instructions on how to turn it off if it goes off. If you car has a transport mode, activate it.

12. Remove Sunpass / Easy Pass / Toll Transponders

Take off any toll tags and parking passes to avoid unintended toll charges as your vehicle travels on the carrier. It can be tedious to call around to each toll authority to get them removed!

13. Make Sure You Have Proper Insurance Coverage

Make sure your car is insured for transport. Although the carrier’s insurance should cover any damages during transit, having your own insurance for other threats adds another level of security. However, you can ship a car uninsured if need be. It is considered cargo on the trailer.


By following these really easy tips on how to prepare a car for transport, you’ll have the peace of mind and have a hassle free car transport process!

Carl has a decade of experience in the car shipping industry. He has worked in nearly every aspect of the transport business since 2014, taking charge of various roles in the company such as dispatching, sales, and customer service.

During those years, Carl amassed an invaluable amount of experience which has contributed to his writing of every article and and guide on NX since taking over content in 2015.