Auto transporting is a simple enough process, right? Your vehicle is loaded onto the back of a truck, the truck drives away and then a few days later, at your destination, your vehicle is unloaded. But while you don't have to do that much but sign a check, the shipping process is an ordeal for your car.

Preparation is key. If you don't properly prepare your vehicle for the auto transport process, it could end up costing you money (in the form of preventable damage to the vehicle's body) and time (if something should go wrong with your vehicle during shipping delays can ensue).

Luckily, preparing your car for the trip doesn't require much time or any money. Just follow the steps below:

  • When you're budgeting your move, keep in mind that some vehicles cost more to transport than others. Because of size and weight issues, shipping an SUV will cost more than shipping a compact.
  • Wash your automobile thoroughly a day or so before it's picked up. This will allow you to see clearly any body damage that occurs during auto transport.
  • After you wash your car clean out the interior. Removing all objects you may have left sitting in the car will ensure that nothing shifts during shipping and damages the interior. For a few more good reasons to empty out your vehicle before transport, check out our auto transport insurance guide.
  • If your vehicle has a car alarm, disable it. If the alarm starts going off once the auto transporter has your car, they won't be able to deactivate it.
  • Many automobile shipping companies require that your car have no more than a quarter tank of gas when they take custody of it. Just a few extra gallons can mean a lot of extra weight: make sure your car has the minimum.
  • If your automobile has any customized accessories - like spoilers, fog lights or ground effects - make sure to secure them or remove them before shipping. Also, if you can, fold back your vehicle's mirrors and retract the antennae. The more things you have sticking off the car, the more likely it is that something will get snapped or dinged.
  • When you're shipping a convertible, make sure the top is up and properly secured. If there are any open seams or holes, seal them to prevent moisture from getting into the interior. If you can't secure the top, consider asking your auto shipper about closed container shipping.
  • Even though the process won't be putting many miles on your car, your vehicle still needs to be in good shape. Before your shipping date, check the fluids, tire pressure and battery charge. If for some reason your car becomes inoperable during shipping, some vehicle transporters may charge you an extra fee for unloading it.
  • If your vehicle is leaking fluid, let your auto transport company know; otherwise it may end up leaking onto another car.
  • If your car has any quirks that would affect starting it up, loading it onto a truck or shutting it off, make a note of them and leave it in the cab for the driver.
  • Auto shipping truck drivers often carry cell phones with them. Get the driver's number - either from them or the company - before you ship your car. This way you'll always be in contact with your vehicle.