How to Prepare a Car for Transport

You are about to ship your valuable vehicle interstate and that means you’ll want to check that all of the necessary preparation steps are completed to ensure safe successful transport.

Whilst the driver is responsible for transporting the car to its new home, you are responsible for preparing the vehicle for transport before the driver arrives.

We have outlined everything that needs to be taken care of before shipping day.

By following these 10 easy steps, preparing your car does not have to be a hassle.

Ten Steps for Preparing a Car for Transport

In order for your car to arrive as expected, it’s important to prepare it for the transport process.

1. Wash the Exterior

Get your vehicle squeaky clean from top to bottom. A spotless exterior is important for the next few steps of the car shipping process. If you give the car a good clean now, it saves you work upon delivery.

2. Complete a Visual Inspection

Once your automobile is clean, walk around the exterior of the vehicle looking for any dents, scratches, discolourations, or paint chips.

A visual inspection is essential for noting any existing damage. It is rare that your vehicle will become damaged in the shipping process. However, if this were to happen, you would be better prepared to recognise any possible new damage.

3. Photograph the Car for Your Records

In addition to noting any existing damage, you may want to photograph any scratches, dents, paint chips, etc.

Take pictures from various angles and ensure that all the images are of good quality. 

These pictures are for your records and you can use the images, in combination with any notes, to assist you in completing the condition report.

The pictures also act as extra insurance in case the car transport company denies any new damage.

4. Complete a Closer Inspection 

You have already completed a visual inspection around the exterior of the vehicle. Now, it is time to take a closer look.

Check the undercarriage for any leaks. If you see any noticeable leaks, get this taken care of as soon as possible.

It may also be worthwhile to note the odometer reading of your car. Your automobile should not be driven often during transport, except to get your vehicle on and off the transport truck.

5. Carry out any Necessary Car Maintenance

If you are transporting your operable vehicle, there are a few general car maintenance tasks that should be completed.

By maintaining your vehicle, you are ensuring that it is ready to be driven once you arrive at your new home.

In summary:

  • Check the fluids in the car (Oil, Brake, Engine Coolant, Power Steering, Washer).
  • Make sure the vehicle has a fully charged battery.
  • Check the tyre pressure (Ensure that the tires are not over-inflated or under-inflated).
  • Empty the gas tank to 1/4 to 1/8 full.

6. Make Sure the Vehicle’s Exterior is Secure

You will want to ensure that all the parts on the exterior of your vehicle are protected during transport.

Therefore, if you have any removable parts, you will want to either secure them or remove them from your vehicle altogether.

This includes such items as removable ski, bike, and luggage racks.

Consider also retracting antennas, and folding in side-view mirrors and removing any custom spoilers, as well.

If you own a convertible, ensure that the top is secured enough to keep out damage from weather.

7. Remove all Personal Items

Clean out your vehicle’s interior; including all personal items from the boot.

Do not forget to grab your GPS and car charger in the process.

By removing personal items, you are decreasing the risk of theft, loss, and damage.

During transport, your vehicle may move around a bit. Therefore, personal items, left in your car could get tossed around, causing unnecessary damage to your car and to the items.

8. Deactivate or Remove Automatic Toll Tags

Go ahead and remove automatic parking passes and toll tags.

You are not going to need these items doing transport.

If you leave your toll tag on your vehicle, it may collect the fees of every toll that your car passes through. And while there is generally a process for claiming these back, is not really worth the headache.

9. Don’t Remove Everything!

As you were cleaning out your personal belongings from your car, you probably asked, “What is okay to leave?”.

Should you take everything out of my car?

While all personal items should be removed for insurance and safety purposes, some items can (and should) be kept in your vehicle. These include the spare tyre, emergency kit, jack, and hand tools.

It is important to note to keep your license plate on your vehicle.

10. Write Down any Special Instructions for the Driver

Document any mechanical problems and write down any special instructions needed to drive your car onto and off the trailer. Be sure to advise the driver of any problems starting or stopping your car.

Although your car will be driven minimally during auto transport, these notes will be important for driving your car on and off the carrier.

These steps may seem tedious and unnecessary to you, now, however, they will save you time and money in the long run.

Not only will your car be ready for the arrival of the driver, but it will be ready for you to drive upon delivery at your new home.

What to Expect Upon Pick-Up and Delivery

So, you’ve prepared your vehicle for transport.

All personal items should have been removed from the vehicle, an inspection should have been conducted in which damages were noted, and the vehicle should be in tip-top shape inside and out.

The car is ready to be shipped, but you probably have many questions involving transport.

What can you expect when the driver arrives?

What can you expect when the driver delivers the automobile?

The whole car shipping process can be a bit overwhelming if you have no idea what to expect upon pick-up and delivery of your car.

Car transport is meant to make your life easier and we will briefly outline what you can expect upon pick-up and delivery of your vehicle, so that you are better prepared for the shipping process.

Prior Pick-up of the Vehicle

The car transport company will usually call you before his arrival to notify you that he is on his way to your home.

You or another individual must be present at your house for the inspection of the vehicle and to sign the vehicle transport condition report.

If you have prepared any special handling instructions, give those to the driver at this time.

Ask any last-minute questions you may have regarding the transport of your car.

The driver will load the vehicle onto the carrier, wave goodbye, and it will be on its way to its destination.

Following Delivery of the Vehicle

The delivery procedures are similar to those completed upon arrival.

Someone will need to be home to perform the inspection with the driver, as well as to sign the vehicle condition report.

However, in this inspection, you will be looking to ensure that no new damages occurred in the shipment of your vehicle.

It is unlikely that any new damage appears as a result of the car transport but this is still an important step to take.

After ensuring that your car is damage-free, you can sign the vehicle condition report and send the driver on his way.

Next you may want to clean your automobile inside and out.

If your vehicle was transported via open auto transport, it may be a little dirty. Give it a quick wash to remove any dirt.

While you are cleaning the car’s exterior, you might as well clean out your car’s interior, too.

Remember if you moved interstate, you will need to change your vehicle registration and driver’s license. States vary in the amount of time allotted to complete this task, ranging from ten to thirty days.

Therefore, go to your local Department of Transport or fill out the necessary information online.

Now is the Time To Relax with Friends

You put the time and energy into preparing your vehicle to be transported, and because of it, your auto transport was a success!

You found out exactly what to expect upon the pick-up and the delivery of your vehicle and the driver didn’t have to wait around for tasks that should have been completed beforehand.

Plus, you are cruising around your new town in a clean car.

Put your feet up, relax and enjoy the ride.

Customer Success Story

Why Car Transport Services Exists Today!

When I had to move my car from Melbourne to Perth, the journey of finding the right transportation service felt almost as daunting as the 3,400 km drive itself. Through trial and error, a bit of luck, and a few missteps, I learned a great deal about how to select the best service for such a task. Here’s my experience, and I hope it can guide you smoothly through your own process.

Start with Research

The first thing I learned was the importance of research. Initially, I made the rookie mistake of choosing the first service that popped up in my Google search results. Big mistake. The company had hidden fees I hadn’t anticipated, and the service was far from satisfactory. What I learned was to dig deeper. Read reviews on multiple platforms, ask for recommendations from friends or family who’ve undertaken similar moves, and don’t skip on checking the forums where real customers discuss their experiences.

Check for Licensing and Insurance

One good decision I made was ensuring the company was licensed and insured. Insurance is important. Transporting a vehicle across such a long distance has its risks, and you want to ensure that your car is covered in case of any mishaps. Verify the transporter's accreditation with transport authorities and ensure they have valid insurance that covers your vehicle during the transit. This gave me peace of mind, knowing my car was in safe hands.

Compare Quotes

Getting multiple quotes was another area where I initially faltered. I assumed all prices would be roughly the same and didn’t bother shopping around. However, after a pricey quote from the first company, I decided to get several more. The price differences were significant, and some companies offered more comprehensive services at lower costs. Always compare quotes from at least three to five companies. This not only gives you a better idea of the price range but also allows you to negotiate better terms.

Understand the Service Types

I wasn’t aware initially, but there are different types of car transport services: door-to-door, terminal-to-terminal, open carrier, and enclosed carrier. Each has its pros and cons. I chose an open carrier for its cost-effectiveness, but in retrospect, considering the long journey across Australia, an enclosed carrier would have been better to protect my car from the elements. Understanding these options beforehand helps in making a more informed decision based on your needs and budget.

Communication is Key

One of the best decisions I made was selecting a company that had excellent communication practices. They provided updates at every major juncture of the journey, which eased my anxiety. Ensure that the company you choose has a point of contact who is reachable and willing to update you throughout the process. This is vital for peace of mind and to ensure that any issues are quickly addressed.

Timing and Flexibility

I learned the hard way that flexibility is key when transporting a car such a long distance. The initial service I chose promised a delivery within a week, but it ended up taking more than two weeks, which disrupted my plans significantly. Ask about the expected delivery times and check if the company can offer guarantees or compensation if they exceed the estimated delivery times.

Avoid Rush Decisions

A bad decision I made was rushing into booking without fully understanding the terms and conditions. This led to unexpected charges for additional services I wasn’t aware I had agreed to. Take your time to read the fine print or have someone else review it. Make sure you understand every aspect of the service contract.

What I Wish I Knew

If I knew then what I know now, I would have placed more emphasis on checking customer feedback about their post-service experience, especially regarding how companies handle damage claims and disputes. Knowing a company's track record in these areas can save you from potential headaches if something goes wrong.

Open vs Enclosed Car Transport

Open car carrier with new vehicles

Open Car Transport

Open car transport involves shipping vehicles in an open-air trailer, exposing them to weather and road conditions.

This method is cost-effective and widely available, making it a popular choice for transporting vehicles quickly and economically.

The main benefits include lower costs due to multiple vehicles being transported simultaneously and quicker delivery times. However, the downside is the potential risk of damage from environmental elements and road debris.

moving cars in an enclosed car carrier

Enclosed Car Transport

Enclosed car transport uses fully enclosed trailers to provide maximum protection for vehicles against weather, theft, and damage during transit.

This method is preferable for high-value, classic, or luxury vehicles requiring extra security. Enclosed transport is more expensive and less readily available but offers higher insurance coverage and peace of mind.

Specialised services include GPS tracking and expert handling, ensuring vehicles are delivered safely and discretely.

Find out more