The Ultimate Guide to Preparing Your Car for Cross-Country Shipping


When it comes to shipping your car across the country, preparation is key. Whether you’re relocating, selling, or sending a vehicle to a loved one, ensuring your car is properly prepared can make all the difference. At American Auto Transportation, we understand the importance of this process and are here to guide you every step of the way. This guide will walk you through the essential steps to prepare your car for a smooth and stress-free cross-country journey.

Choosing the Right Auto Transport Company

The first step in preparing for car shipping is selecting a reliable auto transport company. It’s crucial to choose a company that is not only experienced but also prioritizes the safety and security of your vehicle. Here are some factors to consider:

Reputation and Reviews

Look for companies with positive reviews and testimonials. Customer feedback can provide valuable insights into their service quality and reliability.

Insurance Coverage

Ensure the company offers adequate insurance to protect your car during transit. This gives you peace of mind knowing you’re covered in case of any unforeseen incidents.

Service Options

Consider the types of services offered, such as door-to-door delivery, enclosed transport, and tracking capabilities. Choose the one that best suits your needs and budget.Researching and selecting a trustworthy auto transport company is the foundation of a successful shipping experience.

Insurance and Protection

Understanding the insurance aspect is vital. While auto transport companies generally provide insurance, it’s important to know the extent of this coverage. Here’s what you should do:

Ask for Proof of Insurance

Don’t hesitate to ask the company for proof of their insurance coverage. This ensures that they are legally compliant and your car is protected.

Review Your Own Auto Insurance

Check your personal auto insurance to see if it covers long-distance transport. Sometimes, your own policy might offer additional protection.

Consider Additional Coverage

If you feel the need for more coverage, especially for luxury or classic cars, explore additional insurance options. It might cost extra, but the added security can be worth it.

Cleaning and Inspection

Cleaning your car inside and out is more than just about aesthetics; it’s about ensuring a thorough inspection. A clean car makes it easier to spot any existing dings, scratches, or issues. Here’s how to approach this:

Exterior Cleaning

Wash the car’s exterior to remove dirt and debris. This makes existing damage, if any, more visible.

Interior Cleaning

Remove all personal items and trash from the interior. Personal items are not typically covered by transport insurance.

Document Pre-Shipping Condition

Once clean, document the car’s condition. Note any existing damage or peculiarities. This will be important when you receive your car after shipping to ensure no additional damage occurred during transit.

Maintenance Checks

Performing basic maintenance checks can prevent potential issues during transport. Here’s what you should focus on:

Tire Pressure

Ensure your tires are properly inflated. This helps in keeping the car stable and secure during transport.

Fluid Levels

Check and top up all necessary fluids in the car. However, keep in mind that the car shouldn’t be leaking any fluids as this can be a hazard during transport.


Make sure the battery is fully charged and securely mounted. A functional battery is essential for loading and unloading the vehicle.

Address Mechanical Issues

If your car has any known mechanical issues, inform the transport company beforehand. Ideally, all significant mechanical problems should be fixed to avoid any complications during loading and unloading.

Securing or Removing Accessories

Custom accessories and loose parts need special attention before shipping. Here’s what to do:

Remove Custom Accessories

Items like spoilers, bike racks, or custom stereo systems should be removed if possible. These can be damaged or cause damage during transport.

Secure Loose Parts

If there are parts that cannot be removed, like side mirrors or antennas, make sure they are secured or retracted.

Lock the Car

Once loaded onto the carrier, the car should be locked to prevent theft or accidental opening of doors during transit.By following these steps, you can ensure your car is well-prepared for its cross-country journey. Remember, the key to a successful auto transport experience lies in choosing the right shipping company and taking the necessary precautions to safeguard your vehicle. With American Auto Transportation, you can rest assured that your car is in good hands.

Fuel and Fluids

Managing the fuel and fluids in your car is a crucial step in preparing for shipping. Here’s what you need to know:

Fuel Level

Keep your fuel level low, around 1/4 of the tank. This reduces the weight of your vehicle, which is safer and more efficient for transport. However, ensure there’s enough fuel for loading and unloading the vehicle.

Check for Leaks

Before shipping, check for any fluid leaks. Leaks can not only damage your vehicle but also pose a risk to other vehicles being transported. If you find any leaks, get them repaired.

Fluid Levels

Ensure all necessary fluids (oil, coolant, brake fluid) are at adequate levels and topped up if needed. This is especially important if your car will be driven to its final destination after shipping.

Photographic Documentation

Documenting your car’s condition before shipping is essential for your peace of mind and for any potential insurance claims. Here’s how to do it effectively:

Take Detailed Photos

Use your smartphone or a camera to take clear, detailed photos of your car from various angles. Make sure to capture all sides, the roof, undercarriage, and both the interior and exterior of the car.

Focus on Existing Damage

If your car has pre-existing damage, such as scratches or dents, take close-up photos of these areas.

Date Stamp Your Photos

Ensure that your photos are date-stamped. This provides proof of the car’s condition on the day of shipping.

Preparing for Pickup and Delivery

The pickup and delivery process is the final step in the car shipping journey. Here’s what you should prepare for:

Be Available or Assign Someone

Make sure you or a designated person is available at the time of pickup and delivery to handle the handover.

Inspect Upon Pickup

During pickup, inspect your car alongside the carrier driver. Confirm that all pre-existing damages are noted in the shipping report.

Inspect Upon Delivery

Upon delivery, inspect your car thoroughly. Compare its condition to the pre-shipping photos and ensure no new damages have occurred during transit.

Prepare Necessary Documents

Have all necessary documents ready. This includes your ID, proof of ownership, and the keys to your car.


Preparing your car for cross-country shipping doesn’t have to be a daunting task. By following these steps, you can ensure your vehicle is ready for a safe and secure journey. Remember, the key to a smooth car shipping experience is in the details – from choosing the right transport company to the final inspection upon delivery.We understand the importance of your vehicle, and we are committed to providing a seamless shipping experience. Our team is here to assist you every step of the way, ensuring your car arrives at its destination just as it left – safe and sound.Ready to ship your car with confidence? Contact American Auto Transportation today for a hassle-free shipping experience. Our team of experts is here to provide you with a personalized quote and answer any questions you may have. Let us take the worry out of your cross-country car shipping needs.

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