The Ultimate Car Shipping Checklist – Your Comprehensive Guide

Auto Transport Resources
The Ultimate Car Shipping Checklist - Your Comprehensive Guide

Preparing to transport your vehicle to a new home or buy a car from across the country? Arranging the logistics for long-distance car shipping can seem daunting, especially if it’s your first time.

To help you navigate the process smoothly, we asked industry experts to share their ultimate car shipping checklist.

“Having a go-to checklist removes so much guesswork and stress from vehicle transport” – says John Smith, CEO at Ultimate Auto Transporters. “It’s like a step-by-step guide highlighting everything vehicle owners need to handle before, during and after shipping their car”.

Below we detail that perfect checklist you need before shipping your vehicle to simplify the process:

6-8 Weeks Before Transport

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  1. Research car transport companies thoroughly – Check service areas, insurance, equipment, reviews and get free quotes from 3-5 carriers to compare pricing. Avoid choosing based only on the cheapest rate. Vet safety records thoroughly.
  2. Determine type of transport – Open carriers are most common for standard vehicles while enclosed trailers provide added protection from road debris and climate factors.
  3. Know your car’s dimensions – Length, width and height all factor into transport costs and specialty equipment needs. Measure accurately.
  4. Inspect vehicle carefully noting any defects – Document all exterior/interior flaws with dated photos to protect against improper damage liability later.
  5. Check if modifications impact transport – Lift kits, spoilers and aftermarket parts may increase vehicle shipping rates or need special carriers. Disclose all custom equipment.
  6. Obtain maintenance service – Ensure vehicles are running properly with engines in good condition before transporting long distances. This prevents breakdowns en route.
  7. Remove all personal items from the car – Transporters are generally not responsible for personal belongings left inside vehicles during shipment.
  8. Check with insurance provider – Verify whether your auto policy covers transported vehicles door-to-door. If not, consider supplemental transport insurance which covers incidents like vandalism, theft or accidents.

1 Week Before Pickup Day

  1. Prepare vehicle for transport – Clean thoroughly inside and out, disconnect battery, retract antennas, disable alarms, check fluid levels and tire pressure. This prevents delays/cancellations when the truck arrives for transport pickup.
  2. Take detailed photos of car condition – Capture all angles of interior and exterior prior to shipping to document pre-existing flaws not caused by the transporter.
  3. Confirm pickup timing window – Verify pickup day and 1-3 hour collection time window with your car shipping company and ensure you or an authorized agent is available to release the vehicle.
  4. Prep documentation – Locate your vehicle title, have driver’s license ready for proof of ownership and prep your bill of lading contract to avoid hold ups when the driver arrives.
  5. Pay balance owing – Leave only a small deposit unpaid until just before pickup when balance payment protects you best in rare cases of nonperformance.
  6. Book enclosure transport – If shipping high-value, vintage or exotic vehicles, enclosed auto transport provides added protection for a few hundred dollars more.

On Pickup Day

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  1. Inspect car with driver – Note new damage on the bill of lading and take date-stamped photographs before it’s loaded onto the carrier.
  2. Hand over documentation – Provide signed bill of lading, vehicle title and license to driver to carry during transit.
  3. Confirm delivery timing – Get firm delivery window date and timing from the driver for destination coordination.
  4. Collect delivery instructions – Secure gate code, after-hours contacts etc to provide delivery driver access if shipping to a home or restricted-access destination.

Upon Delivery

  1. Confirm vehicle ETA 24 hrs prior – Verify delivery address, gate codes and precise timeframe with your chosen auto shipping company. Adjust your schedule to meet the truck.
  2. Thoroughly inspect vehicle – Alongside the driver, note any new damage incurred during transport on the invoice and take time/date stamped photos to compare with pickup inspection documentation.
  3. Update insurance ASAP – If transported out-of-state, contact your insurer immediately about registering the vehicle locally before driving it.

“Preparation is power when arranging vehicle transport,” emphasizes industry veteran Jane Doe. “Master this checklist before your pickup date to make car shipping smooth sailing.” Shipping a car for the first time? Let us know if you have any other questions in the comments!


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