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Preparing to Ship a Car Across Country: What Most Car Movers Will Require You To Do


Many auto-transporters require you to take certain steps before you ship a car across country. Preparation such as documenting any issues with the vehicle and updating maintenance protects both you and the shipping company and help you find out how much to ship a car will cost faster.


In your presence, a representative of the auto-transport company will inspect your car before and after the move. Before they take the car into their possession, external flaws will be documented in writing and/or photographed. This protects both you and the company from false claims of damages. Always ask for a free auto transport quote as early as possible in your car transport process.

Assuming you ship a car across country that is drivable, take it to the garage to ensure everything is in working order. Issues such as leaks and regularly scheduled maintenance including oil changes, brake and transmission fluid levels and a battery check should be taken care of prior to handing over your car. This not only proves your car was in good working order pre-transport in the event of a problem, it also means you will have a safe well-working car ready for use upon arrival.

Car movers also prefer you drop you car off with a quarter or half a tank of gas, as less weight saves money.  You will also need to hand over a set of keys after the inspection.

Make Adaptations

If the climate at your new residence is markedly different, take advantage of this time to make the appropriate changes to your car. If you are moving to an area with snow, purchase snow tires, make sure you have adequate anti-freeze and have a window scraper to keep in the glove compartment; if you are moving to a warm climate, have you’re A/C checked and extra coolant on hand.


Your car needs to be clean enough to pass inspection by the car movers. The car does not have to be perfect – washing with a hose in your driveway or passing through a car wash station will be adequate to take note of external damage such as rust, dings, dents or scratches.

You will also need to clean out the inside of your car. Legally, auto-transport companies are not allowed to accept vehicles that contain personal belongings and have the right to refuse your car on this basis. If personal items are left in the car, unbeknownst to the company, they are not liable in any way for lost, stolen or damaged items or any damage to your vehicle related to the presence of these items.

In the midst of a long distance move? Get a free quote from our preferred moving companies!

Car transporters are not movers and the system is set up so that you will not be able to cram items into the car you plan to ship. Doing so increases the weight of the car, takes advantage of auto-transporter and places them in an awkward position.

Items to Remove

Most auto-transporters will ask you to remove:

  • Car covers
  • Spare tires
  • Roof Racks
  • EZ Pass
  • Handicap placards
  • Antennas
  • Spoilers

You will also need to disable your car alarm system. The transporter may not hear or be able to turn off an alarm that goes off, which will cause the battery to deplete over the course of the move. The company is responsible for security when you ship a car across country.

Preparing to ship a car  offers added insurance for both you and the company. The condition of your car will be clearly documented, eliminating disputes over any damages incurred during the move. In addition, you car will be up-to-date on maintenance, outfitted for potential climate differences, safe and ready to drive upon arrival.