Awaiting Car Transport Pick-Up

Car Shipping: Tips For a Smooth Move

Car Shipping Prep To Ensure Your Move Is Smooth


You’ve confirmed your car shipping order and now have your transport schedule set, so you’re good to go, right? Not quite. It doesn’t matter whether you’re shipping a daily driver or something that’s been fitted with some aftermarket items. Although a carrier could pick up your car as is, it’s better to do a few preparations to help make shipping your car as smooth as possible. It could be as simple as washing your car or require some rearranging of equipment. Here are 5 actions I suggest to take before the carrier hauls your vehicle to its new destination.

Preparing Car Alarms for Car Shipping

Most cars are equipped with some sort of car alarm. Some tend to be more sensitive than others. One of the most sensitive isn’t an aftermarket add-on. It’s the factory installed alarm of Mercedes Benz. This system is very sensitive to vibrations and angles, so when it comes to car shipping, it can be double trouble. Not only is there lots of vibration on a carrier, but more likely than not, your car will be at some sort of an angle. Whether yours is a top-notch factory installed system, or a high-quality aftermarket add-on, make sure your carrier is aware. Either make sure to unhook the alarm, or explain to the driver how to operate yours. has a few quick tips on how to temporarily disable the car alarm if you’re unsure. No one wants their car battery to be dead at delivery because their car alarm went off and no one could turn it off!

Removing Transponders/Tollway Passes

Another action to take prior to car shipping is removing your transponder for tollways. This is one of those items that is used daily but easily forgotten. Don’t get charged for your transport while your carrier passes a toll. There are two options for this device. First, you can simply take it out. If you’re afraid of being forgetful and not getting it put back in, you can take it down, wrap it in tin foil, and place it in either your glove compartment or center console. This way the signal will be deflected and avoid any charges and you won’t have to remember where you put your transponder. DISCLAIMER: If you do forget to do either of these with your transponder, you are responsible for the charges. Carriers don’t check the interior of a vehicle and most likely won’t be looking for transponders. For E-ZPass users with questions, make sure to reach out to their customer service department.

Removing Exterior Storage Items

Although some packing is allowed when shipping your car, it needs to be contained to the trunk or cargo area. The reason is 3-fold. For starters, it changes the dimensions of a vehicle. A bike rack makes a vehicle longer while a cargo carrier makes a vehicle taller. Car carriers are made to fit the standard height and length of most vehicles, and anything that changes that makes it more difficult to ship. Secondly, the cargo carriers, tonneau covers, and even truck toppers aren’t made for auto shipments. The reason I say this is because a lot of the time, your vehicle is shipped backward. These items may work fine as you drive down the road, but they are designed to go forward, not backward at 70mph. One brand of toppers and tonneau covers, SnugTop, states in its warranty (under warnings) that it shouldn’t be transported. This can lead to the third point of damage. Because these change the dimension and aren’t designed for transport, you run the risk of damage to your vehicle and vehicles around yours from these coming loose. There have also been requests to have items stored within the bed of a truck. Although this is a storage area of the vehicle, it’s not well protected. No matter how well you strap items down, they may come loose through the vibration and jostling of the carrier. Since any items not affixed to a vehicle aren’t inventoried or covered by a carrier’s insurance, they are not covered.

Light Cleaning

Even though your car may get a little dust or road grime during transport, especially on an open carrier, it’s actually very helpful to have your car washed before car shipping. You don’t need a complete detailing done, just a quick wash of the exterior. This helps both you and the driver note any blemishes or issues that were present before the transport. If the driver is able to make an accurate inspection of your vehicle at the beginning, you’ll have an accurate record of your vehicle’s exterior condition. When your vehicle is delivered, you can know it arrived just as it left. Another way to ensure your vehicle arrives in the same shape is by lowering or temporarily removing your antenna. If it’s automatic or mechanical, make sure it does go down properly and let your driver know at pick up. If your car is a little older, you can unscrew it and place it in your back seat. Either way, make sure it’s noted on your inspection form. This will help prevent any possible damage to your antenna.

Gathering Documents

One question asked now and again is about documents for your vehicle: “Do I need my registration/insurance/title in my car when I ship it?” If you are shipping your vehicle within the continental US, these aren’t necessary. You are welcome to leave documentation such as registration and insurance in the vehicle if you already have it in there. If you have the title and need to leave it in the vehicle because the person receiving will need it, I would suggest putting it out of sight, in a safe place such as the glove compartment. When shipping to Hawaii, the same applies, but if you’re shipping from Hawaii, and to or from the Samoa Americas or Guam, they do require documentation. Make sure to ask your representative what is required when booking your car shipment.

Like any aspect of a move or travel, it’s better to be prepared than hope for the best. Even a simple car wash can help with the success of a transport through an accurate inspection. Taking time to consider these 5 items will greatly increase your chances of a hassle-free car shipment. Let shipping your car be the best part of your relocation.

Leave a Reply