Home Business Insights & Advice Preparing your vehicle: Essential steps for safe and secure car shipping

Preparing your vehicle: Essential steps for safe and secure car shipping

by Sarah Dunsby
16th Jan 24 2:31 pm

Sun-kissed beaches beckon, the promise of new beginnings in a bustling city hum, or perhaps it’s simply the allure of escaping the familiar. Whatever the exciting chapter unfolding, one crucial companion demands attention: your beloved car. Yet, amidst the anticipation, a niggling worry stirs – the car freight conundrum. Will cherished wheels arrive unscathed? Will hidden costs ambush the journey?

With a dash of preparation and the proper roadmap, your trusty automobile can cruise into its new home, gleaming and blemish-free. So, before bidding farewell to well-worn streets, it’s time to uncover the mysteries of car shipment together. Buckle up and prepare to navigate this experience with smooth sailing and stress-free smiles, ensuring your four-wheeled friend arrives safe and sound, and ready to explore new horizons.

Understanding the challenges

While car transport may seem like a convenient way to relocate your vehicle, it’s essential to be aware of potential challenges that can arise. Here are some key considerations:

  • Damage – Open carriers, the most common and affordable option, expose your car to the elements and road hazards. This option can lead to scratches, dents, and dings, especially on long trips. Enclosed carriers offer superior protection but come at a higher cost.
  • Hidden charges – Be mindful of additional expenses beyond the initial quote, such as fuel surcharges, oversized vehicle fees, or storage fees for delays. Carefully review the contract and ask questions before booking. Utilising a car shipping calculator can ease your worries.
  • Theft risk – Although uncommon, car theft during transport is possible, particularly with less reputable freight companies. Choosing a licensed and insured carrier with a strong security track record can mitigate this risk.
  • Mechanical issues – Extended travel can exacerbate existing car problems or even trigger new ones due to stress on the engine and other components. Thorough pre-shipment maintenance helps reduce this risk.
  • Delayed deliveries – Unforeseen factors like inclement weather, traffic congestion, or mechanical breakdowns with the carrier can delay your car’s arrival. Building buffer time and staying updated with the car transport company are crucial in managing expectations.

Understanding these challenges allows you to make informed decisions and take proactive steps to protect your car and ensure a smooth experience. With careful planning and groundwork, you can navigate the potential roadblocks and guarantee your vehicle arrives safely at its new destination.

Perform pre-shipment preparations

Before your car embarks on its flight, a few crucial steps warrant it arrives sparkling and in one piece. Here’s the essential arrangement you need to do:

  • Documentation – Gather official paperwork – registration, insurance, title, and proof of ownership. These documents prove your ownership and smooth any bumps at customs or checkpoints.
  • Exterior care – Bathe your car in a detailed wash, revealing any pre-existing dents or scratches. Document these with photos, like a meticulous cartographer marking unexplored territory. This step protects you from any blame game upon arrival.
  • Interior protection – Treat your car’s interior like a royal treasure chamber. Empty it of personal belongings and loose items, ensuring nothing bumps or rattles during the transfer.
  • Fuel and fluids – Like a wise traveller stocking provision, keep your fuel tank between 1/4 and 1/8 full to minimise weight and fire risk. Top off essential fluids like engine oil, coolant, and brake fluid, ensuring your car hums smoothly throughout its voyage.
  • Tires and battery – Check and adjust tire pressure to manufacturer specifications, like a pilot calibrating instruments before take off. Disconnect any unnecessary accessories that drain the battery, allowing your car to wake up with an energetic purr at the finish line.

By diligently completing these steps, you provide your car with the armour to confidently navigate the expedition, ensuring it arrives ready to wander its new world.

It’s crucial to recognise that transporting a vehicle involves unique considerations compared to shipping for small businesses, emphasising the need for specialised attention to guarantee a smooth transition for your trusted automobile.

Choosing the right shipping method

Navigating the car shipment sea can be tricky, especially when choosing a suitable vessel. Do you opt for the open-air, budget-friendly carrier or invest in a fully enclosed carrier’s private cabin? Here’s a breakdown to help you chart your course:

Open carrier


  • Lower cost – The workhorse of car shipping offers significant savings compared to enclosed options.
  • Faster times – Open carriers deliver quicker due to wider availability and streamlined loading processes.
  • Suitable for standard vehicles – Perfect for everyday cars, not requiring maximum protection.


  • Exposure to elements – Your car faces the brunt of weather, road debris, and potential bird attacks.
  • Higher damage risk –Scratches, dents, and dings are more likely, especially on long journeys.
  • Limited security – While theft is rare, open visibility might attract unwanted attention.

Enclosed carrier


  • Ultimate protection – Your car travels in a climate-controlled cocoon, shielded from the elements, road hazards, and prying eyes.
  • Reduced damage risk – Scratches and dents become virtually non-existent, preserving your car’s pristine condition.
  • Peace of mind – Knowing your car is in a secure, private chamber offers unparalleled travel tranquillity.


  • Higher cost – Enclosed carriers come at a premium, often double or triple the price of open transport.
  • Slower times – Limited availability and slower loading processes, coupled with the current challenges in the shipping industry, can result in longer delivery times, extending to weeks or even months. It’s crucial to consider this timeframe when planning your car shipment to ensure a smoother transition.
  • Not ideal for all vehicles – Oversized wheels or those exceeding height restrictions might require special arrangements.

Ultimately, the ideal shipping method depends on your budget, automobile value, and priorities. Weigh open carriers’ cost savings and speed against enclosed transport’s unparalleled safety and peace of mind. Choose one that best aligns with your needs.

Perform a shipping day checklist

As your car gets ready to travel, secure a smooth departure with this handy list:

  • Final walkaround – Take one last inventory of the interior, ensuring nothing remains to rattle or roll during the ride. Don’t forget the exterior – a final scan for any missed scratches or dents documented earlier helps avoid future confusion.
  • Paperwork and keys – Double-check that registration, insurance, title, and proof of ownership are readily available. Don’t forget the spare keys – they become the secret handshake for your car to access its new home.
  • Inspecting upon arrival – When your car finally crosses the finish line, resist the urge to drive off. Instead, don the detective hat once more. Give your vehicle a complete post-travel examination, comparing it to your pre-shipment photos. If any new blemishes appear, document them promptly with the shipping company representative to ensure a smooth resolution.

Following these simple steps transforms shipping day from a nerve-wracking ordeal into a poised send-off, knowing your car will arrive ready to cruise its new home with you.


You can transform your car shipping duty from a potential hurdle into a seamless journey with meticulous preparation. Once you arm your vehicle with comprehensive documentation, optimised fluids, and vigilant inspections, you can navigate the path with confidence. As the carrier looms in the distance, give yourself a breather. Your meticulousness has reduced the risks and paved the way for a seamless arrival. This is the prologue to a new chapter filled with shared explorations and boundless possibilities. Buckle up, for the open road awaits, and your adventure begins now.

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