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Are you planning on shipping your cars across the country due to job relocation? Moving your car on a platform, no matter the distance, seems (at first glance) a simple, carefree procedure. You just make a call, and specialized auto transport companies come and take care of it. However, to ensure that this operation is indeed carefree, you must pay attention before moving your car.

There are many things to know when shipping a car. Here are all the issues you need to either check or solve before moving your car.

Perform a car assessment. This assessment takes place before the transportation stage. The assessment is performed, by default, by the service provider. However, we advise you to be cautious and assess your vehicle on your own before handing it over to the auto shipping company.

Take proof of your car’s state, as it is, before loading it on the platform. Take photos of your car’s interior and exterior, in detail, from all angles.

Remove everything personal. The transportation provider is not legally allowed to take any of the goods that belong to you. Thus, if there is anything else belonging to you inside the car when they come to pick it up, they will just remove them.

So if you don’t want to lose anything, we advise you to do a thorough check-up of your car’s interior. Take your personal belongings to a safe place and double-check the glove box and center console for any hidden valuables or essential documents.

Secure all parts. There are several loose components that you should secure. During transportation, the car may move slightly on the platform. Some parts could get damaged or even completely fall apart.

You can remove some of the vehicle’s mobile parts, such as mirrors, spoiler, fog lights, etc. You can put them back after your car arrives at the destination. Just be sure to leave your windows fully closed.

Deactivate your alarm. Transportation might not go completely smoothly so your car alarm is at risk of activating on the road. Just remember to deactivate the alarm before giving the car to the shipping provider.

Minimize the fuel amount.
The transportation company will ask you to nearly empty the fuel in your tank while it’s being moved. The recommended amount is no more than a quarter of its full capacity. This is done so the car is as light as possible when it is being transported.

Taking the fuel away will remove some weight. However, you should still keep some fuel in the tank—enough to be able to load it, unload it at the destination and reach a gas station to refuel.

Fix all leaks. It is extremely dangerous to transport your car far away if it has any leaks, like oil, gas or any other type of fuel. The leakage might damage the trailer or other vehicles on the road or even become an issue for the environment. Check the condition of the car before loading it on the platform and make any necessary repairs before moving.

Check the tire pressure.
For the same safety reasons, your car needs to have the optimum tire pressure while being transported across the country. Just like when you’re driving, the tires need to be neither underinflated nor overinflated.

If you intend to carry your car to another location on a platform, check the pressure of each tire before loading. The precise pressure level is mentioned inside the car (on the driver’s side) or in the car’s manual. In the worst-case scenario, you can request this information from the car’s manufacturer.

If the tire pressure is not correct, take your time to remedy this issue before the shipper arrives with the platform.

Lock the car. We recommend you lock the car before putting it on the platform. This is a safety measure both for your car safety and for secure transportation.

Is there still a risk?
If you followed the above steps before moving your car, you should safely arrive at your destination. However, consider that unpredictable elements might occur, though the probability is low.

Right after your car is unloaded, before signing any delivery receipts, check it thoroughly. Examine both the exterior and the interior, and compare it to the initial state. Check both the roof and the undercarriage. You’ll also need to start the vehicle to see if it is working properly and if there are any leaks.

What if my car gets damaged?
After checking your car, if you notice any slight damage, you need to take some action.
The first immediate step is taking photos of the damage. Then let the service provider representative know about it. Mention this damage in the bill of landing, which is the proof of vehicle delivery.

You will also need to notify the representative that performed the initial car inspection before transportation. The company’s representative might come to make a second inspection and draft new documents that indicate the new damage occurred while moving the car.

These documents are required to repair the car and receive insurance compensation. Don’t sign any vehicle receipt papers if they don’t acknowledge this damage.

After receiving the documents and taking your car back to the destination, you need to go to a repair shop. They will do a repair estimate. Send one copy of the estimate (either on paper or via email) to the shipping company.

Attach to this estimate to both the initial photos of your car and the photos indicating the damage. All these documents need to be sent to your insurance company as well. You also need to keep all the repair receipts and send copies to the shipper and the insurance company.

Usually, car moving companies are prompt in covering these repairs. The company might refuse to acknowledge the damages incurred during transportation or compensate you for the repair costs. In this case, you can forward a complaint to the Better Business Bureau or start legal action against them.

Final Thoughts
Given the fact that your cars are probably one of your more valuable assets, it makes sense to take the time to understand the shipping process. Unfortunately, in the moving industry, there are some shady companies. It is super important to vet any car shipping companies you’re thinking of working with carefully.

It’s equally important to ask a lot of questions of the auto transport company before hiring them. By doing your due diligence, you’ll increase the odds of being happy with the car shipping experience.

You don’t want to get stuck with a bad company, or it could make your car shipping experience a real nightmare.

Moving Resources
Have a look at these additional RISMedia moving articles before making your next move.

What to know about renting a truck with U-Haul: Are you the type of person who likes doing things themselves? If you’re going to be moving and want to avoid the expense of hiring professional movers, one of the better alternatives would be to rent a U-Haul truck. Read about some of the essential things you should know before signing on the dotted line.

Home Depot truck rentals reviewed: Another excellent do-it-yourself moving company is The Home Depot. Like U-Haul, they offer rental trucks, which can help you save a ton of money when moving. Read about some of the most vital things you should be aware of before renting from them.

Bill Gassett is a nationally recognized real estate leader who has been helping people buy and sell MetroWest Massachusetts real estate for the past 33 years. He has been one of the top RE/MAX REALTORS® in New England for the past decade. In 2018, he was the No. 1 RE/MAX real estate agent in Massachusetts.

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