The Process of Shipping a Car in Three Phases

Brantley Kendall

05 Dec 2023 8 months ago

Moving to a new destination is thrilling, but transporting your beloved vehicle can break your excitement. Will it arrive safely? Will it still run smoothly when it rolls up in your new hometown? Trust us, we’ve heard every worry from anxious car owners.

But there’s no need to fret. With years of experience in auto transport, we at SAKAEM Logistics can set your mind at ease. Through rains, sleets, and snows, we’ve mastered the art and science of shipping vehicles door-to-door, coast-to-coast without a scratch. From our meticulous inspection process to customized trailer options designed to protect your baby, we’ve seen it all – and we’re ready to handle the hurdles of relocation. Hence, you’re free to start your next adventure.

So take a deep breath and put that pedal to the metal towards the moving truck! This guide includes everything from prepping your car to picking a trusted company and ensuring a smooth shipment and easy delivery. With SAKAEM as your copilot, your car will be cruise-ready for discovery in your new hometown.

We’ll explain the entire process in three helpful phases – preparation, transport, and delivery – so you’ll know what to expect at each journey step. Time to ride off into that sunset!

Phase 1: Preparation for Shipping

Relocating vehicles to new homes or buying dream cars from other states often necessitates auto transportation services. Among the hundreds of movers offering rock-bottom rates, identifying reliable carriers fulfilling damage-free shipping commitments requires thorough background verification across experience, tech infrastructure, licensing, and feedback records before securing deals. This article will guide you on prudent pre-transit preparations:

Choosing the Right Shipping Company

Make an informed decision when selecting vehicle shipping services with this essential checklist:

Step 1: Know Your Needs

Take time to think through critical details – what is your needed time frame for vehicle transport? Do you have a standard sedan or large SUV that requires specific clearances? What services are absolute must-haves, like enclosed trailer transport or direct door-to-door delivery? Outline all specialized needs and have them handy so you only collect quotes from companies equipped to handle the specifics of your rig and timeline.

Step 2: Scout Prospects Thoroughly

Cast a wide net in your search! Scan industry review boards like TrustPilot and BBB Ratings to compile a list of the highest-rated auto transport outfits operating in your geographic area—Cross-check options against your outline of required services and vehicle specifications. Pay extra attention to what past customers say about crucial factors meaningful to you – things like responsiveness, timeliness, or vehicle handling.

Step 3: Collect Itemized Quotes 

Call up your top 3-5 contender companies after reviews and provide the same detailed information about your vehicle make/model/year and your transport origin/destination and ideal timeline. Ask reps to walk through what services are included at what costs so that their quotes have itemized breakdowns. This allows you to accurately compare overall value side-by-side.

Step 4: Vet the Process In-Depth 

Now’s the time to dive deeper with questions! Understand standard operating procedures around vehicle inspection processes at pickup and dropoff. Collect data on safety records – accident rates, incidents of damage. Request copies of insurance liability coverage terms. Ask for specifics on contingency plans if vehicles break down en route or delivery is delayed due to external issues. The more clarity at this stage, the less surprises arise later!

Step 5: Verify Licenses and Certs

Do your due diligence and double-check that any company still running is completely licensed and certified in auto transport by FMCSA and registered with the DOT to perform interstate transport services in all relevant states you’ll be traveling through without gaps. This covers your liability in case any damage or other problems occur.

Step 6: Analyze the Fine Print with Care 

When you decide on the best fit, grab a coffee and carefully review the Contract before signing. Read every section to ensure the promised quote, services, and costs match the verbally discussed. Flag any disparities in writing – like dates or fees that differ – and get them aligned BEFORE pickup formalities. You want certainty on details!

Preparing Your Car for Shipping

Get your wheels shipment-ready with these critical steps for optimal auto transport:

Step 1: Make Her Shine 

Take some time to wash your vehicle thoroughly – give the paint a nice sudsy bubble bath to remove any stuck-on mud or grime before transportation. Be sure to hand wash or use a touchless automatic wash to avoid light swirls or scratches. Pay special attention to the lower body and wheel wells where road debris collects.  

Step 2: Check fluid levels

Open that hood and check all fluid levels carefully – wiper fluid, brake fluid, transmission fluid, engine coolant, etc. Top up any low reservoirs to ensure optimum levels. This prevents any messy leaks from developing mid-transit! It takes an extra moment, but it is so worth it.

Step 3: Silence False Alarms 

The last thing you want is for security alarms to go off each mile of the journey without cause. So, take a few minutes to consult your owner’s manual on properly turning off any alarm systems, tire pressure monitoring systems, or other electronics. Make transport peaceful!

Step 4: Document the Vehicle

 Thoroughly inspect your car’s exterior and interior, taking detailed photos from all angles to establish pre-existing conditions. Zoom in tight on any current dents, scratches, paint flaws, interior rips, or stains – no matter how minor. Documenting any defects now protects against bogus new damage claims post-shipping.

Step 5: Remove the Bling 

Take off any parts that could loosen or get damaged without factory reinforcement during transit – like spoilers, bike/ski racks, novelty antennas, etc. Also, remove any quickly detachable interior electronics or accessories that could be dislodged.  

Step 6: Give Tires Some Love 

Use a high-quality pressure gauge (no guesstimating!) to check the PSI inflation levels of all four tires. Review the door placard or manual for the exact proper levels for your vehicle make and model. Inflate accordingly. Proper inflation prevents excess wear and tear while parked on the trailer.

Step 7: Power Down 

If regulations allow, disconnect the battery, preventing battery drain during shipping. Carefully switch off the cutoff switch or remove the negative battery cable. Caution! Only do so if permitted – some destinations require a functioning battery.

Step 8: Check Fuel Level

Check the gas gauge and write down the current fuel level before transportation. Then, match up the pre-shipping reading upon delivery arrival to ensure no gas was illicitly siphoned from the tank during transit.

Understanding Shipping Insurance Options

 When shipping your vehicle, navigating insurance options can be confusing. Here’s the lowdown on understanding your choices in everyday terms:

Tip #1: Understand the Insurance

Get the full details on what precisely the baseline insurance covers. Specifically, ask if damages from accidents and other incidents are covered. And what are the exact limits on maximum payouts? You’ll want to inquire about deductibles as well. By asking key questions upfront, you can fully understand what protections are in place before entrusting your vehicle to the shipping company.

Tip #2: Seek Extra Protection

Many companies offer additional insurance options, such as supplemental coverage for personal items inside the vehicle during transport. Others allow you to increase limits on the maximum payout for damages above baseline coverage levels – handy for more valuable cars! Be sure to have the provider walk you through what add-ons they offer. Then, assess if expanding protection might be worth the extra investment for your peace of mind.

Tip #3: Review Personal Policy

Don’t assume you know what your existing insurance does or does not cover. Reach out to clarify directly with your auto insurer about whether your current policy would offer any protections or liability coverage during the transportation process. There are often gaps – damages covered by the transport outfit but not your own or vice versa. Getting specifics avoids any surprises later!

Tip #4: Document Pre-Existing Conditions

We simply can’t stress this tip enough – take very thorough photos and notes recording any and all existing flaws, dents, scratches, paint imperfections, etc., before your vehicle ships out. Date stamp images when possible. Transport drivers will do an inspection, but having your meticulous documentation protects against any bogus new damage claims later on. Cover all angles and zoom in on problem areas for irrefutable evidence!

Tip #5: Learn The Claims Procedure

Make sure to get clear, written specifics on how to file an insurance claim with the transport company if any damages or issues arise. Find out required documentation, time limitations, who to contact for claims, and other protocols or requirements. Companies vary widely in claims processes and requirements, so understand that. That way, you are prepared to act swiftly while details are fresh.Tip #6: Don’t Skimp on the Contract. Yes, we know contracts can make eyes glaze over. But you must understand coverages, liability policies, limitations to coverage, and your rights before signing on the dotted line. Don’t get stung by hidden clauses! Read each section closely so there are no surprises later – and ask for clarification of any vague language before pickup day. Knowing the fine print protects your asset!

Phase 2: The Shipping Process

With your transport booked and vehicle prepped, our white-glove team has arrived to convey your car to its destination securely! Using state-of-the-art equipment and meticulous procedures honed over 20+ years of experience, our experts will gently guide your car through customized strapping, strategic placement, and blanketed padding to prevent the slightest shifting or damage during transportation. From VIP loading to premier door-to-door delivery, count on the best care for the precious cargo as we safely transport it into its new chapter. Read on for pickup and delivery specifics!

Loading and unloading of vehicles

You did the prep. The paperwork is signed. Now it’s time for your baby to officially climb into their chariot en route to the new destination city. Treat it as a mini bon voyage ceremony! At pickup, our expert auto transport team ensures a safe, secure boarding process using the following protocol:

  • Gentle guidance up custom ramps onto carriers, no scratches along that precious paint job
  • Strategic placement on transport trailers to evenly distribute vehicle weight
  • Multiple secure tie-down straps are fastened to avoid any shifting during transit
  • Protective layers wrapped around vulnerable protrusions like side mirrors

Then, upon artful arrival, we focus entirely on gentle unloading:

  • Cushioned ramp descent right to the doorstep or agreed meeting point
  • Watchful spotters ensure not a single scratch along the way
  • Removal of all secured straps and protective layers
  • Final walk-around inspection to verify pristine delivery

At pickup and dropoff, white-glove, our mantra is care for treasured vehicles – no detail missed. Trust our seasoned auto shipping professionals to secure your precious cargo on the road!

In-Transit Monitoring and Communication

We know sending your car off with strangers can feel scary at first! But our job is to ensure you feel part of the trip and know what’s happening the whole time. After gently loading your vehicle onto our GPS-tracked transport truck, we’ll give you particular login information so you can sign into our website and see exactly where your car is anytime, just like following a moving dot on a map!

Along the drive, we’ll call you when we depart and enter a new state so you get live updates. Plus, we take time-stamped photos showing how we securely strap cars down and handle everything gently at each step. Ask questions anytime! Our goal is no surprises – just friendly check-ins so you relax knowing we’ve got this safely under control. Sound good?

Here are the specifics of communication:

  • Real-time GPS portal to traceroute
  • Live calls at key transport milestones
  • Photos documenting great care
  • Direct line for any extra questions
  • Alerts about potential delays

Navigating Customs and Regulations (for international shipping)

Exporting your vehicle internationally comes with logistical steps for smooth sailing. As your qualified customs liaison, we will guide you in adhering to all declaration protocols, documentation requirements, modification rules, and import taxes owed. Hence, your car arrives at the destination legally sound and cost-efficient.

Confirm with our team that your ownership papers, purchase records, and DOT registrations are current and comprehensive. We’ll ensure they meet destination declaration standards for proper import vetting. Also, advise us on any non-factory add-ons or parts so we can determine if special overseas authorization is needed before modifying the original manufactured condition. We want no speed bumps slowing that foreign arrival!

Also, let’s review insurance coverage together to guarantee that your policy or our supplemental options satisfy the destination country’s minimum liability limits. If not pre-addressed, any gaps could result in steep import duties on foreign vehicles. My goal is to equip your move with complete, binding protection.

While the logistics feel cumbersome, rest assured our transport team has decades of experience smoothly navigating international shipping laws and protocols. We’ll liaise with customs offices on your behalf, so your focus stays on an easy, cost-efficient transition abroad. Trust us as your captains through documentation, modification requirements, taxes, and more! Clear skies ahead when you sail with seasoned experts.

Essential items we’ll oversee together:

  • Proper vehicle declarations
  • Ensuring documents are current
  • Identifying any modification needs
  • Meeting insurance minimums
  • Paying applicable import taxes
  • Communicating with customs offices
  • Finalizing registration post-arrival

Phase 3: Post-Shipping and Delivery

The finish line is in sight! As your vehicle nears its overseas destination, you’re likely wondering what happens once it docks. Let us summarize key steps for smooth customs clearance, local compliance, and final delivery to get your wheels road ready for exploration!

Receiving Your Vehicle

Whether vehicles arrive at your home driveway or one of our secure customer bays, our Vehicle Receipt Agents ensure owners fully understand arrival protocols for optimal first reunions. We devote time exclusively to addressing ownership transitions – no rushed handoffs! Agents walkthrough critical documentation, reconnect batteries and explain registration steps in new states.

Most importantly, we encourage questions, letting owners feel free before driving off. For seamless customer transitions, we focus on:

  • Paperwork clarity – walkthrough forms requiring signatures
  • Reconnecting batteries with owners present
  • Detailing registration and plates tasks if relocated
  • Fielding ALL questions or concerns before handoff
  • I followed up days later to check in on the confidence

The goal is not just safe delivery but an undivided focus on customer service – humanizing the final exchange through dedicated agents who customize the process around owner needs. Their sole purpose is a premium vehicle receipt experience!

Post-Delivery Inspection and Documentation

Our asset protection starts with meticulous post-delivery inspection after your vehicle completes its transportation journey. More than just checking for dings and dents that may have happened en route, this process focuses on capturing pristine asset condition with permanent documentation for your continued peace of mind.

Upon unloading from the transport equipment, vehicles undergo intensive multi-point visual examination by qualified personnel. Inspection results are documented through date-stamped photographs taken from all angles and notes on minor flaws and pre-existing transport. Even the smallest scratches get etched into the record permanently.

You receive complete inspection documentation, including:

  • Several angled images of exterior/interior
  • Zoomed photos of any minor defects
  • Detailed condition report with specific callouts
  • Recording of mileage and fuel levels

These documentation packs get saved to individual vehicle history profiles in our system. So you have immutable before and after proof of precise asset state – not just at delivery but for any future service by our company. Comprehensive photos, damage assessments, and reporting protect against fraudulent claims. And you have it in writing that we handed off your asset, which was verified to be in perfect condition when it arrived!

Feedback and Review Process

At SAKAEM Logistics, we view customer feedback as the best tool for continually improving our auto transport services. That’s why the final step of every vehicle delivery is an invitation to share your shipment experience.

After personally handling your car receipt process, your SAKAEM Agent will email a brief question survey covering the following:

  • Overall satisfaction
  • The condition in which the vehicle arrived
  • Timeliness of transport and delivery
  • Staff professionalism
  • Likelihood to recommend

We aggregate feedback to target any areas needing bolstering – perhaps wait times are growing too lengthy, or clients want more proactive communication. Constructive commentary lets us address pain points.

We also encourage publishing reviews on public forums, which lend helpful insight to other customers on what to expect if using SAKAEM Logistics for vehicle transport and peace of mind. Please send feedback!


When shipping with SAKAEM Logistics, clients can expect a smooth, well-orchestrated process encompassing preparation, transport, and delivery. In phase one, we prepare vehicles for safe transit by conducting compliance checks, gathering required documentation, disabling batteries or alarms, and providing customized quotes for enclosed car shipping or open car shipping options that best fit the situation.

 With vehicles then loaded onto state-of-the-art trailers using meticulous white-glove protocols, phase two focuses on damage-free conveying, real-time GPS tracking, and proactive status calls along the shipping route to keep customers informed.

 As cars finally arrive securely at their destination, our phase three advantage shines through premium vehicle handoff services – credentialed agents dedicate time to addressing paperwork, fielding ownership questions, sharing post-inspection reporting, and follow-ups to ensure 100% confidence in taking the wheel. With over 20 years of experience, SAKAEM brings start-to-finish assurance.

Now that you’ve seen how SAKAEM Logistics executes efficient, customer-focused vehicle transportation rooted in years of award-winning service… isn’t it time to schedule your next auto transport move? Contact us today to get quotes for your car shipping needs and experience how seamless a process can be when leaving it to seasoned professionals. Let us handle the next exciting relocation so you can turn the key with complete peace of mind!

People Also Ask (PAA) Questions:

What are the essential steps in preparing a car for shipping? 

The critical preparation steps include:

  • Safety inspections.
  • Gathering documents.
  • Disabling alarms.
  • Checking tire pressure.
  • Securing loose parts.
  • Photographing existing damages.
  • Cleaning the vehicle thoroughly before transportation.

How does the car shipping process work? 

Car shipping leverages enclosed trailers or open carriers to convey vehicles over land or sea securely. Real-time GPS tracking and status calls provide monitoring while specialty equipment and straps prevent shifting and damage during transit.

What should I expect during the car delivery phase? 

Expect a meticulous final inspection confirming vehicle condition upon arrival. Then, vehicle handoff agents dedicate time to paperwork explanations, questions, battery reconnections, and tips for registration or next steps before you drive off.

How do you choose a reliable car shipping company? 

Look for experienced groups with vetted licenses, top safety scores, guaranteed insurance, and a focus on communication and transparency through GPS tracking and status calls during shipping. Customer service excellence is also vital.

What are the differences between domestic and international car shipping? 

International shipping involves more preparation around customs declarations and import/export protocols. Documentation proves ownership, while modifications may need approval overseas. Insurance minimums, taxes, registration, and quarantines differ when crossing borders.

Brantley Kendall