Prepare Your Vehicle For Shipping

Get up to speed on best practices on how to prepare a vehicle to ship. We realize this is something you don’t do every day. That’s why we have provided this simple guide to understanding how to prepare yourself and your vehicle. You will know exactly what to do and expect from whomever you hire. This information is also industry standard, regardless of who transports your vehicle.

checklist icon with car carrier truck in background

Necessary Preparation – Steps

The process of making your car ready for shipping isn’t rocket science by any means. However, there are a few simple steps you can take for when the carrier gets there so it all goes smoothly. You definintely do not want a delay in getting your vehicle to its new destination.

The following information is based on experience we’ve had with customers during transport. As the auto transport company we see it all. Here you will find the most common situations that can cause some trouble down the line.

Coordinate Contacts, Addresses, People Involved

First and foremost, confirm all contact information. Make sure you have accurate phone numbers, address, city, state, and zip code. If you are leaving someone else responsible for the handing over of the vehicle or delivery, make sure you are well informed of their schedule, who you hired, and what they need to do. If you live in a newer area your information may not be on the map. In these cases make sure you provide accurate information since some new developments aren’t mapped out and the driver may need to know the cross streets, for example.

If you won’t be at either the pickup location or the drop off, be sure to have someone that is ready and responsible. They need to be over 18 to handle the task of releasing your vehicle to the carrier or accepting at the delivery. Many times delays are caused by someone not answering the phone, leaving for a moment.


The vehicle registration papers and all related documents can stay in the vehicle without a problem. That is unless it’s going overseas. In that case you would keep vehicle documents with you. The excpetion is the title of the vehicle.You should not leave that in the vehicle. You should send that separately by certified mail to make sure it doesn’t get lost or removed from the vehicle

The driver of the carrier may ask for identification for the purpose of signing the BOL at pick up and delivery. More on this below. When you sign our terms and conditions, you authorize us to move the vehicle and that you as well as the contacts you provide are allowed to have us ship the vehicle.

Don’t Load Up the Vehicle With Items

Many people believe that it would make sense if nobody is driving the car that they can pack it full of items. This is actually not true, as you cannot load the vehicle with personal items. This is due to laws affecting auto transporters. There is another type of shipping called the moving of “Household Goods”. An auto transport company cannot ship vehicles that have items in them because they are not licensed to do so.

The reality of it is that most carriers will allow you a small amount of clothing items for example, no more than 100 lbs. Keep in mind that if you do decide to put anything, it should be limited to the trunk area. These items should not be anything of value as there is no coverage for anything but vehicle damage.

Remove EZ-Pass, Sunpass, Disable Car Alarms

It’s happened many times that a customer had to call the expressway authority. Our carrier will have your vehicle on the trailer and it will trigger your Sunpass / EZ-Pass tolls because the carrier goes through a toll. Be sure to remove these toll pass boxes and stickers before transport. One of our customers claimed he had over $100 in tolls he had to explain away and get removed. Issues with these toll readers are common.

Also be sure to disable your car alarm. Some are set to self-lock or self-arm after the vehicle sits for a little while and the key has left the vehicle. This can drain the battery and cause the driver to pull off to see which car it is in order to shut it off so to not cause a distraction to the carrier and other drivers traveling near the vehicle. Some alarms also will trigger a theft call. Be sure all this is turned off. Remember, most new vehicles will arm themselves if you do is unlock them and don’t start the vehicle. So be sure to leave it unlocked after turning it off so it doesn’t arm itself. In rare cases, you may need to completely disable the alarm.

Overseas Transport

Shipping your vehicle to Hawaii or Puerto Rico? Then there’s extra steps that need to be taken to avoid issues down the line. Each of our trained representatives will go over all the details. We also send you instructional emails with even more information. But if you are just starting to plan your overseas transport, then here’s some info to start your off:

No More Than a Quarter Tank of Gas

This is to keep the weight down and for insurance purposes. Each gallon of gasoline is about 6.3 pounds. That adds up really fast if you have over 100 vehicles on a ship. If a port inspector flags your vehicle, there will be a fuel siphoning fee, usually about $65.00.

Vehicle Should be Clean

It doesn’t need to be sparkling, but the interior should be vacuumed and and a regular car wash will be fine. This will speed up the any inspections by the Department of Agriculture or similar agencies. If leaving Puerto Rico, a full detail is needed.

Nothing Can Be in the Vehicle

With overseas shipping (except Alaska), your vehicle needs to be empty of all items. Only items that are part of the vehicle should be inside. Like tools or your spare. If you have a sound system with loose box speakers, they would have to be removed. Radar detectors, your Celine Dion greatest hits CD, or air freshener, must also stay behind. Anything not permanently bolted in is out. If you have a truck with a tool box, it needs to be empty and accessible for inspections.

Door to Port or Port to Door for Overseas

Our service is normally door to door. However, with overseas shipping it’s either going to be door to port if heading from the U.S. or port to door of going to the U.S. This has with one or more reasons. For example, in PR you need to pay your excise tax to get your vehicle out of the port and they also need to verify your identity. In Hawaii, distances to the port are short so there isn’t much demand for a carrier.

Be Ready For the Carrier

You’ll get your initial notices and phone calls with your dates from us, but the driver him or herself will contact you to confirm. Many are in the habit of not answering unfamiliar numbers. The driver may call from a number we did not provide you, so be sure to answer those calls.

Your carrier will call usually one day before and again one hour (minimum) before they get there. We also provide you with the carrier’s phone number which will either be the driver’s cel or their dispatcher.

Make Sure You’re Ready to Receive the Bill of Lading (Inspection Report)

The bill of lading is a one of the most important documents in the whole process of auto transport. It has a diagram of your vehicle where the carrier at pickup will mark any existing damage or marks on the car at the moment they are getting it. It’s a good idea to do this walk-around with the driver as you will see what he is noting. They at this point will give you a copy of the bill of lading showing the condition of the car at the time of pickup. Be ready by making sure you don’t let that vehicle leave until you have it in your possession and signed by the driver.

This is very important because this is the “before” snapshot of the vehicle’s condition and is the only document that can be used to claim any damage if it happened during transport. So you must keep a copy of this for comparison. When the carrier arrives, you will take the same steps of doing a walk-around with the driver. This one is even more important than the first, because you do not want the driver to miss any damage that occurred after the pickup. Any new marks, dings, etc (hopefully none!) must be noted on the Bill of Lading. If damage is not noted in the Bill of Lading it cannot be claimed.

If you are buying a car, or having another party handing over the vehicle, please make sure everyone is fully aware about how important it is to get the copy of that form from the driver at both pickup and delivery.

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