Ready to move: Five things to do before you ship your car cross-country


You’ve decided to work with a transportation provider to move your car cross-country. It’s a great decision that will reduce a good deal of stress, whether you’re moving to a new location for work, retiring or sending your child off to university. And it’ll reduce wear and tear on your car as well.

But as with any big move, there are a few things you should do before you ship your car cross-country. When you keep the following in mind, you can rest assured your move will go as smoothly as possible.

1. Make sure your car is in good running condition

Not every car is road-worthy. In a cross-country vehicle move, your car has to run in order to be moved from the drop-off point, on and off of car carrier trucks and on and off of rail cars.

So before you move, be sure your car is in good running condition. That includes the parking brake, an essential component to securing vehicles for travel. You may even want to give your car a tune-up or an oil change, just to be on the safe side.

Oh, and if it’s lowered? Make sure you let your shipping partner know; it may affect the ability to move it on and off of rail cars.

2. Put gas in the tank

As covered above, part of any cross-country vehicle move involves actually driving the car onto the transportation method of choice, either a truck or a rail car. And in some cases, your shipping partner will even come to your house or place of business to pick up (or drop off) your car.

That’s why you should ensure your car has at least a quarter-tank of gas in it before you wave goodbye for that cross-country move. You may even want to fill it up — it’s not necessary for the move, but you’ll have peace of mind that when you take receipt of your car at its destination, you won’t need to stop off at a gas station right away.

One thing you should never do, though, is a leave a gas can in the car! Fuel containers are a major safety concern, so be sure you remove any such containers before your move. In fact, that brings us to item number three…

3. Remove all of your personal belongings from your car

Shipping your car isn’t an invitation to load it up with personal items so that you don’t have to move them yourself. Your vehicle transportation provider isn’t a moving service — not that kind, anyway.

So along with gas cans, you’ll want to take everything out of your car before you ship it cross-country. That includes your iPod, your GPS, the lawn chairs and baseball gloves in the trunk, even the phone charger in the glove box.

There are several reasons for this:

  1. Safety; your car can get jostled riding on the back of a truck or train, so better not to risk anything inside getting damaged.
  2. Liability; your provider’s insurance will cover your car, but not your belongings.
  3. Cross-border security; trains carrying cars will occasionally travel through the United States to make the most efficient journey, and as such, your shipping partner will need to clearly identify exactly what is crossing the border.

4. Give your car an inspection

Any shipping provider worth their salt will conduct a thorough inspection when you hand over the keys, but it doesn’t hurt to give it the once-over yourself before you drop it off. After all, your car is an important part of your life, and no one knows it better than you. You can even take photos for extra peace of mind.

You should also give your car wash before you ship it; although your car will likely get dirty on its trip, a wash will help reveal any scratches or dents hidden by dirt and grime, and ensure an accurate and fair inspection when you drop it off.

5. Do your homework before you ship your car cross-country

A quick Google search will reveal a large number of options for cross-country vehicle transportation in Canada. How do you know which one is right for you? Here are a few things to look for:

  • Are they accredited by the Better Business Bureau? BBB accreditation is a good baseline for a long-standing, successful enterprise; you’ll be confident this provider isn’t a fly-by-night operation.
  • What do others say? Online reviews can sometimes be a mixed bag, but with a large enough pool you can get an accurate understanding of what working with this provider will be like. And no reviews at all? That’s a red flag.
  • Who is actually moving your car? Does the provider have its own fleet of trucks and professional drivers? You don’t want a weekend warrior with a pickup truck moving your car. Look for experts you can trust.
  • Where is your car being kept? You want your car stored in safe, secure, monitored facilities before it gets underway.

At Livingston we work hard to earn your trust; moving cars across North America. We know how much your car means to you, and how stressful any move can be; our commitment is to take care of your vehicle, and make your move as easy as possible.

Livingston Vehicle Transportation is Smartway Certified, and accredited by the Better Business Bureau; we’ve been moving cars for more than 35 years. Our operators are experienced and well-trained, and we’re the exclusive vehicle shipping partner of CN Rail, Canada’s largest and most efficient rail network.

With Livingston, you’ll find a partner you can trust to ship your car cross-country. Get an online quote for your move today, or give us a call to set your move in motion.

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