This was written by Conner from LHM Auto. 

car-preppingNo matter what your reason for shipping your car, there’s some work to be done on your end before your baby is loaded on the truck.  You don’t want your car rattling around and getting damaged on the way to your destination, and you need to have everything in order when you pick it up so you can get on with your life.

Here’s a quick checklist to make sure you’ve done your part to get your car ready to ship:

Pre-Drop-Off Inspection

You need to know exactly what condition your car is in before it’s shipped. Perform as thorough an inspection as you can.

  • Inspect the overall appearance of the car body
  • Inspect all pipelines and wires you can
  • Inspect the interior— seat upholstery and dash
  • Make a note of any damage you see—nicks, dents, tears, etc.
  • Take photographs of your car
  • Put everything together in file

Hopefully your shipping company is reputable and you’ll never have to get that file out again; either way, it’s good to have for insurance purposes

Pre-Ship Maintenance

If you uncovered a problem during your inspection, take care of it now; you need the car working to get it to the shipment company, likely as not. Besides, you don’t want to deal with a maintenance issue in a place where you don’t know the local mechanics.

Some maintenance you may be able to perform yourself is putting air in the tires, changing the oil, and (unless your shipping company wants the car to be drained of fluid before transport) filling the fuel tank (or, charging the battery if yours is electric).

Clear it Before it Ships

Most of us live half our lives in our cars—between commuting to and from work, running errands, and visiting loved ones. It all builds up, and you don’t want to find you’ve left something vital in your car after it ships. And you’ll need to tidy up in there before you clean it (but more on that in a moment).

Go through your car and clear out any garbage—candy wrappers, takeout containers, soda cups—or other things that don’t belong, such as Tupperware, old magazines, or the three extra jackets you keep in the trunk.

If you have a set of CD’s in your car’s CD changer, those could be kept there, but it’s not a good idea to keep too many CD’s in the car. Also, make sure nothing in the car is pressurized or will smell funny after long containment in the car.  (Editors Note: nothing should be left in the car, nothing).

Clean it Before You Ship it

It’ll be nice to drive a clean car once it ships to your destination!

Clean the interior of the windows, then dust and polish the dashboard. Once that’s done, focus on upholstery—the seats and carpeting. Car dealers in Utah recommend a soaking and blotting technique similar to carpet stain removal, with some scrubbing to get out the tougher stains. Avoid harsher chemicals and cleaners—spot remover you use on your laundry works for most upholstery.

Be sure you know of any specifications requested by your particular shipping company to make their job simple—as simple as you’ve just made yours!

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Important info to Ship a Car Overseas:
  • No car can leave USA if it has a lien on it. What does this mean? Your car must be paid in full. The only people who can ship a car overseas and still carry a lien on the car are US Military and Government employees/contractors. For those people a letter of authorization from the lender will need to be issued to pass US Customs. Otherwise the car may be considered stolen.
  • A clear Title of Ownership with no Liens on the Title.
  • If you bought a car new, then your name must be listed on the front of the Title as the registered owner.
  • If the vehicle has been sold, then both the Seller and Buyer have to sign the back of the Title in the spaces as detailed on the back of the Title.
  • For safety reasons, the vehicle cannot have more than a ¼ tank of gas.
Import Duty for Destination Country:
  • Import duty is NOT collected by Ship Overseas. It must be paid at the arrival port by whoever is picking up the car. We wrote a blog post about vehicle import duty here. It talks about how to find out import duty for your country.
Travel & Living Abroad:
  • Most countries will allow a traveler to temporarily import their car for up to 6 months. After the 6 months is up, import duty will be charged. For many travelers going to Europe and taking their car, a deposit is paid up front. When the car goes back to it's destination country, the deposit is refunded. If a person has lived in USA for 1 or more years, most countries will allow that person to bring their car back duty free! The car must not have any liens on it. Please check with your Customs Department first.
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