The Ultimate Car Shipping Checklist



Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
The Ultimate Car Shipping Checklist

Understanding the general idea behind car shipping is easy: you pay someone to ship your vehicle from one place to another. If you are looking for a way to ship your car, you are in the right place to the required info and recommendation to help you out. Shipping a car to an overseas country is a task that can only be successfully pulled off by a professional. It would be almost impossible for someone with no experience, knowledge, equipment, and many other important factors.

Fortunately for you, there are numerous trustworthy auto transport companies that are ready to handle your vehicle’s transportation process. You definitely want to book a transport company that will give you peace of mind through its service at an affordable price, whether you are going on an adventure or you just purchased a new car online. However, shipping a car from one location to another is a tough task for some people, while many don’t even know where to begin their preparations. 

To enable your car shipment to run as seamless as possible, Moving Feedback has compiled this car shipping checklist for you.  

Comprehensive Car Shipping Checklist

Creating a checklist for your upcoming vehicle shipping is very important as the task involves much preparation. A checklist knows exactly how to save you from any type of moving situation you found yourself. Confusion can easily set in from the many things that will require your attention when embarking on a car shipping. You will find it easier to tackle the task when you have and follow your checklist and also utilize the skill of your transport company. 

Most of the steps on our checklist take effect before the vehicle shipping company picks up your car. There are not many things you can do when your vehicle is on its way, although some transport companies enable tracking.  The checklist is categorized into stages to make it easier for you.

Stage 1: Plan Your Car Shipping

#1. Figure out if car transporting is your best option

You have many options in car shipping. You can also sell the car to buy a new one or just drive it to your new destination. Consider the scenarios below to help your decision: 

Scenario 1: You drive your vehicle to your new destination

This is a prevalent moving situation where you hire a team of professional movers to pack, load, and transport your current household belongings and deliver it to your new home. You then do the following once your movers are gone:

  • Load your packed important moving boxes into your vehicle
  • Instruct your family members and pets to take their appropriate sit in the family vehicle and
  • Get seated in the vehicle and start the long ride to your new home. You can figure out what your new life in the new city would be like. 

Scenario 2: You fly to your destination home while your car is being transported professionally

This is another relocation day scenario where you hire a reputable car shipping company to ship your car to your destination home. In contrast, you and your loved ones catch the next available flight to your new home to save a lot of time. You do the following once your movers are gone: 

  • Go through the required process to get your car ready for shipping, as following this checklist.
  • Carry your bags containing essential and valuable items with you to the airport.
  • Get seated on your plane and patiently waiting to start the flight to your new home. You can figure out what your new life in the new city would be like while you wait for your car to arrive at your new home. 

#2Decide between open and enclosed shipping

Car shipping companies can transport your vehicle either on the back of an opened truck, which exposes it to the elements or inside a fully closed moving truck. Most customers prefer the open transport option. Customers with classic, exotic and antique cars are advised to go for the enclosed transport option – read luxury car transport. You can also consult our write up on the enclosed and open vehicle transport for more information and better decision making on this step.   

#3. Check online reviews to locate the best-rated car shipping company

Here are some hints on how to determine if the auto shipping company you are transporting your vehicle with is both reliable and reputable:

  • Ask people close to you: You can ask around from your people or perform a quick Google search for vehicle shipping experiences. This might help you locate people with experience transporting their vehicles. Be very careful of companies with many negative reviews on similar complaints or those that have no reviews at all.
  • Read online reviews: Pay serious attention to details when checking online reviews on car shipping companies. Websites like Google, Trustpilot, TransportReviews, BBB, and as well as Moving Feedback contain many relevant and genuine reviews. Note that the best and reputable shipping company will be present in mostly all the major review websites. 

Quote: Once you get to this stage, you must have gotten two or three reliable auto shipping companies. Contact them over the phone or fill out their online form to get a shipping quote. Consult our write up on tips for selecting a reliable auto shipping company online for more information.


what is the best vehicle for transporting companies?

Six best vehicle shipping companies are listed by Moving Feedback after comparing their important features such as customer service, perks, and price. Click our list of best vehicle transporters to find a perfect match. You can also compare the quotes you received with our research in what is the cost of shipping a vehicle? 

  • Pick a company: Now, you have to pick the company that stands out to you after comparing their quotes and read reviews. You will also need to check your Bill of Lading and contract thoroughly after you chose a provider. The contract is basically the confirmation email sent to you by your auto shipping company. The driver on getting to your car will hand over your copy of the Bill of Lading to you, which will contain the condition of your vehicle as well as other shipping information. Make sure you keep your copy of the Bill of Lading for future reference if need be. Furthermore, it is required of every auto shipping company to have liability insurance even though some of them offer additional insurance.    

#4. Select a date

Make sure your vehicle is ready on or before the day you give the auto shipping company for pickup. In most cases, it takes 4 days from your specified date for an auto shipper to pick up your car and anywhere from 2 – 14 days to have it delivered.  

Stage 2: Get your Vehicle ready for Shipping

This is where you turn your focus on getting your car ready and safe for shipping. Start the vehicle transportation process by washing the outer parts of your car thoroughly. You can also take time to clean the interior space of your car even though this is best done after the entire auto shipping process is completed. You can then proceed for thorough physical inspection of your vehicle after you might have gotten rid of any dust, dirt, and other unwanted filth from your vehicle so you can note any damage it might have suffered in this past till now.   

To get your car ready for shipping, carry out these inspection activities:

  • Check your battery: Check and recheck your battery to ensure it is charged. The cost of transporting a car that doesn’t start is much.  
  • Check for leaks: To know if there are any leaks from your vehicle, look under it to see if there are any wet under your car’s engine. You have to bring a mechanic to check your vehicle and fix any problem associated with leaking oil, transmission fluid, and so on. 
  • Check your tires: This is very important, so the car transport company can drive your vehicle onto the moving truck and also for you to be able to drive it when it arrives at your new location. Check for proper inflation of the tires before they come for pickup.
  • Inspect your emergency brake: The shipping company will reject your vehicle if the brake is faulty. Make sure the brake is working perfectly before the driver come for pickup. 
  • Top off your liquids: This step is included in your pre-check-up checklist, and it includes your oil, brakes, and power steering fluids. 
  • Solve mechanical issues: You have to also look out for any mechanical issues aside leaks on your vehicle. This may include a broken distributor cap or bad timing belt that could delay it from starting up anytime while in transit.  
  • Take out any car attachments: Bring out your ski rack from your vehicle as it may not survive the shipping process. Antennas, bike racks, and any other accessories that are attached to your vehicle must be removed to avoid damaging during shipping. 
  • Reduce the quantity of gas in your tank to less than a quarter full: You only need enough gas in your vehicle to run few errands and top it at your new destination, not a full tank. The weight of your car is affected by a full-gas tank, which also increases your shipping cost. 
  • Disable your alarm: The driver may get annoyed and startled if all of a sudden your car alarm goes off while shipping. There have been reports about drivers going extreme to make sure the alarm system goes off while causing damage to the vehicle. 
  • Fold in your car’s side mirrors: You can only reduce the risk of damage to your side mirrors by folding them as they cannot be detached like your bike racks. 
  • Clean your car: It is advisable that you ship an empty vehicle with no items inside. Although some shippers allow it, most companies prohibit the act to reduce the chances of damaging the car during shipping. 
  • Disable your electronic toll pass: If there is any electronic toll device on your vehicle, deactivate or turn it off before shipping. 
  • Obtain a spare key: Life can become frustrating when you lose your car keys. Things could become more difficult when your delivery driver lose the only key you have while in transit.   

Pro Tip

There have been reports of auto shipping companies charging last-minute reservation fees even though customers booked well in advance. You can avoid this payment by proofing you booked in advance once you know your driver’s name. Get idea of your car shipping cost by reading our post – How much does it cost to ship a car?

Stage 3: Record your Vehicle’s Condition

#1. Record your mileage: Although there is no way your delivery driver would take your vehicle on an adventure around the city before bringing it to you. However, it is advisable you record the mileage before shipping just in case.

#2. Check your car and record damage: Make sure the condition of your car is well documented before loading onto the auto shipping truck. We advised taking pictures or making videos of each side of the vehicle. You would need proof that any damage during transit wasn’t there before loading.

#3. Confirm details and sign your bill of lading: A bill of lading is the document that contains the condition of your vehicle that you must sign before transporting. Make sure the transport worker correctly documents everything before you attest to your signature.

#4. Confirm vehicle insurance: Ensure your regular vehicle insurance is still active through the shipping process just in case an accident occurs while your car is being transported.  

#5. Record your vehicle’s odometer number: This number can increase but not more than a mile unless your car was taken for a ride during the transport process. Although this might not be necessary, you just have to play safe.     

Stage 4: Wait for your Vehicle Delivery

  • Check vehicle shipping status online: All you can do at this stage is to relax or continue your usual life. You can check the current status of your vehicle till it gets to you if your auto shipping company offers you a tracking feature.

Stage 5: Take Delivery of your Vehicle

Your vehicle transport company will perform thorough inspections of your car during pickup and delivery periods. You or any other person you chose to represent you must be physically present during those inspections to sign the Bill of Lading as well as the condition report at the two locations (pickup and delivery). 

  • Check your car and note damage: Upon delivery of your car, make sure you carefully inspect its condition and document any damage to it during transportation on the Bill of lading before the delivery driver leaves your new home. Make sure you document any damage to your vehicle before you sign the Bill of lading. 

Stage 6: Post-delivery

  1. Clean your car: This is the right time to wash your newly delivered vehicle thoroughly. You could assign mire cleaning time to the interior especially if you didn’t clean the inside of your car before shipping
  2. Register your car: You are given a certain period of time to get your vehicle registered if you just relocate to another state, or else you will be fined. Note that some states like Florida give just 10 days to do the vehicle registration while New York gives as far as 30 days. Check the DMV office in your new state to know and address this issue before it involves a penalty.
  3. Transfer driver’s license: You need to transfer your driver’s license to your current state, and this can also be done at the local Department of Motor Vehicles in your area.  
  4. Purchase insurance: You will be required to present a car title in your name, and your vehicle must also pass a safety inspection with its emissions checked before your vehicle registration can be marked complete. Proof of vehicle insurance will also be required. You will be required to purchase new vehicle insurance in your new state for vehicle registration, even though you still have valid vehicle insurance from the state you moved from. 
  5. Leave online feedback (review): Share your experience for others to learn from. In just two minutes, you can leave a review on what the company might have got right such as on-time delivery, low price, excellent customer service, and so on, as well as any issues you had during the shipping process such as car damage, delays, rude drivers, and so on. 

Final Words

Vehicle shipping within the United States of America can be as easy as a walk in the park from pickup to delivery if you know and followed the right steps to get your vehicle ready for auto transport. Follow the guidelines provided above to get your car to your new location in good and perfect condition. If you have any experience in moving your vehicle from one part of the country to another, feel free to share any practical shipping tips with us in the comment section below.  

David Cohen
David Cohen
He has a degree in literature from Stanford University and a profession in Mass Communication. David is a member of the Moving Feedback research team, an expert in writing educative articles to help readers make the right buying decisions. He is well versed in moving industry matters to give the best advice on moving needs.
David Cohen
David Cohen
He has a degree in literature from Stanford University and a profession in Mass Communication. David is a member of the Moving Feedback research team, an expert in writing educative articles to help readers make the right buying decisions. He is well versed in moving industry matters to give the best advice on moving needs.

More To Explore

Leave a Comment

Table of Contents

Get FREE quotes from Professional Movers