Written by: Kate Becker

Preparing your vehicle for an interstate move is a crucial step in ensuring a worry-free relocation. It’s about making sure your car is ready and safe for the journey ahead. This process involves a series of straightforward steps, learning about car shipping costs, checking your vehicle’s maintenance to securing or removing loose parts. It’s essential to document your vehicle’s condition before the move, understand the insurance coverage, and choose the right transport method. If you take these steps, you can avoid potential issues and ensure your vehicle arrives at its destination ready for the road. Read about all the necessary information to prepare your vehicle for an interstate move effectively!

Start With a Thorough Clean

Starting with a thorough cleaning of your vehicle before an interstate move is more than just a step towards a shiny car. It’s a vital part of the preparation process. A clean car offers a clear view, making it easier to spot any dings, scratches, or damage that needs documenting, especially if you’re shipping classic cars. This detail is not just for your peace of mind but is essential for insurance claims. It’s about ensuring that every inch of your vehicle gets inspected without dirt masking potential issues.

man cleaning his car after reading about how to prepare your vehicle for an interstate move
Start by giving your vehicle a thorough clean, inside and out, to easily identify any existing damage.

Cleaning the interior is just as crucial. Clearing out personal items, from the glove compartment to the trunk, prevents them from moving around during transport, avoiding damage to the interior or the items themselves. This step not only secures your belongings but also contributes to a safer transport process. Removing personal items also helps in reducing the vehicle’s weight, albeit slightly, which can impact the cost and efficiency of the move.

Have Your Car Serviced

There are many ways you can transport your car from one part of the country to another. You may put it on a train. You may as well have some of the auto transport companies move it for you. One of the options is to drive it by yourself and get to know the country a whole lot better. Whatever you decide to do, make sure you have your car serviced before you leave. In case you are driving it yourself, the reason for it pretty obvious. Surely, you wouldn’t want it breaking down on you in the middle of nowhere. However, you may not understand why you should take it to your repair shop prior to the move.

Perks of having your mechanic prepare your vehicle for an interstate move

The reason behind it is that your mechanic knows what your car might need doing. Once you have moved, you will need to find a new place to take care of your car. That new place will take a look at it and get a general opinion on its state. Nevertheless, their knowledge of it will remain limited. Therefore, take advantage of having someone who already knows your car to the bone. Take your car to them for as long as possible. This will ensure you receive the best service there is.

man fixing car
If you want to prepare your vehicle for an interstate move, make sure it is in good working order.

Document Your Vehicle’s Condition

Documenting your vehicle’s condition before an interstate move is a step not to overlook. Capturing photos or videos from various angles ensures you have a detailed visual record of your car’s current state. Focus on any scratches, dents, or damages. This documentation serves as a crucial piece of evidence should you need to file an insurance claim later. It’s important to make the date visible in your documentation to serve as a reference point. This process helps safeguarding your interests and facilitates a transparent and straightforward assessment by the moving company. By having a comprehensive visual record, you can compare the vehicle’s condition before and after the move. This comparison is invaluable in the rare case that disputes arise regarding damages incurred during transportation. Taking the time to thoroughly document your vehicle’s condition can save you from potential headaches and financial losses in the future.

Plan for Fuel and Storage

Planning for fuel and storage is a key aspect of preparing your vehicle for an interstate move. Keeping your tank a quarter full strikes the perfect balance. This amount is sufficient for loading and unloading activities, yet it avoids adding unnecessary weight. It’s a simple step that plays a crucial role in the logistics of moving your vehicle. If your journey ends with storing your vehicle, it’s vital to know the storage facility’s fuel requirements.

Facilities vary, and some may prefer different levels of fuel in the tanks of stored vehicles for safety or operational reasons. Ensuring your vehicle meets these specifications can prevent any issues upon arrival. This preparation minimizes the risk of complications and ensures your vehicle is ready for both the move and the storage period that follows. Adjusting the fuel level according to these needs is a small but significant way to safeguard your vehicle and streamline the moving process.

Your vehicle should have a quarter tank of gas.

Secure or Remove Loose Parts

Items like spoilers, fog lights, and side mirrors might seem securely attached, but the rigors of transport can prove otherwise. These components can easily become damaged or, worse, cause damage to other vehicles if they come loose during the move, especially if you’re shipping a car from Florida to Texas, which are around 1,400 miles apart. If it’s possible to remove these parts, doing so can prevent potential issues. For items that cannot be removed, ensuring they are tightly fastened is key. This precaution not only protects your vehicle’s accessories but also contributes to a safer transport environment for everyone involved. It’s a straightforward task that can significantly reduce the risk of damage, ensuring that your vehicle arrives in the same condition it left. This step, while simple, is an important aspect of vehicle preparation that should not be overlooked.

Disable Alarms

Alarm systems, designed to protect your car, can become a source of inconvenience during transport. They may trigger unexpectedly, causing delays and unnecessary work for the movers. If turning off the alarm system isn’t straightforward, it’s important to provide the transport team with clear, step-by-step instructions on how to deactivate it. This preparation helps avoid potential disruptions and ensures a easier relocation process for your vehicle. Making sure your car’s alarm won’t go off unexpectedly not only eases the job for the movers but also prevents any possible damage from attempts to silence an alarm.

Keep a Spare Key

Having a spare key for your vehicle is very important part of moving your car. You will need to give a set of keys to the movers for loading and unloading purposes. By keeping a spare key with you, you ensure access to your vehicle once it arrives at its destination, regardless of circumstances. This precautionary measure eliminates any worry about losing the only set of keys during the move or facing lockout situations upon arrival. Ensuring you have a spare key also adds an extra layer of security and peace of mind, knowing that you’re prepared for any key-related issues that might arise.

car keys on a white surface
Keep a spare key with you, just in case the primary set gets misplaced during the move.

Choose the Right Transport Method

As we’ve already mentioned above, there are ways you can move your car nationally:

  • Drive it by yourself
  • Have somebody else drive it for you
  • Contract a professional moving company to relocate it for you
  • Transport it on an Amtrak train

Driving it by yourself

It surely looks appetizing, doesn’t it? Just imagine: it’s the middle of the summer, the sun is shining and the day is beautiful. Your windows are open and you can feel the breeze in your hair while you’re cruising down Route 66. This is a dream of many. If you can spare the time to do it, our suggestion would be to go ahead and execute your master plan.

However, you should take into account that moving your stuff may take a lot of time and nerves. On the other hand, it may be a good idea to drive it once you’ve moved all of your stuff and have settled down. It could prove quite beneficial in this case. Should you decide to do it, make sure to prepare your vehicle for an interstate move before the trip itself so that you don’t end up preparing it while traveling.

Hire someone to drive it for you

This is an interesting option since it may prove cost-efficient. There are many young people, students that desire to travel the country but don’t have a car to take them across it. You don’t need to move coast-to-coast to find someone to relocate it for you. You should simply post an ad and surely someone will answer it. Then, it will be up to you to negotiate the terms. Usually, you would pay the transport fee to the driver, while he will cover the gas. This is especially the case if you agree that the driver can take a longer, more interesting route instead of bringing it to you as quickly as possible.

person driving a car
Your choice should depend on your vehicle’s value and your budget.

Taking care of the fee and paperwork when you need to prepare your vehicle for an interstate move

Given the distance the car will travel, you will need to prepare your vehicle for an interstate move just as you would as if you were driving it. Should you choose this option to relocate your car, make sure you get all the paperwork sorted out. Special emphasis should be put on car insurance against theft and liability!

Contracting a professional moving company to move it for you

In our opinion, this is your safest bet! Little can go wrong when you’re dealing with professionals. They will make sure your car arrives safely at your new address. Furthermore, they can do it while you’re packing up your last boxes and loading them onto a truck. Have them ship your car a day or two before you catch a flight and your car may even wait for you at the airport! There are a few quality moving companies to choose from on the Verified Movers website. All you need to do is browse it.

Putting it on an Amtrak car-train

Putting your car on a train is far from being a new thing. On the contrary, it used to be done more often before. Nevertheless, if your plan is to take the train yourself, this could be a good option for you. You’d be able to drive all the way to the station and drive off of it once you arrive, so it’s pretty convenient. Amtrak has a reputation for being late, though. If you haven’t planned on riding the train to your destination, you might want to skip this option. You wouldn’t want to end up spending an entire day at the station hoping your car arrives soon, right?

Notify Your Insurance Company

Insurance policies often come with geographical limits or specific requirements for interstate transport. Making sure your auto transport insurance policy adequately covers your move is essential to avoid any potential issues with claims. This action is not just about ticking a box; it’s about ensuring you have the necessary coverage in place for every mile of your journey. Some insurance companies may require additional information or even suggest changes to your policy to ensure continuous coverage throughout the move.

By informing them ahead of time, you can address any gaps in coverage and adjust your policy as needed. This proactive approach protects your vehicle and provides you with peace of mind during the transition. It’s a simple step that can have significant implications for the safety and security of your vehicle’s interstate journey. Taking the time to communicate with your insurance provider can save you from unexpected headaches and financial burdens down the road.

two men chatting
Ensuring your policy covers the move avoids potential issues with claims.

Prepare for Delivery

Preparing for the delivery of your vehicle is a key step in ensuring a stress-free interstate move. It’s crucial to know exactly where the drop-off and pick-up locations are. These spots must be safe and easily accessible for large transport vehicles. Early coordination with the transport company to confirm dates and times is essential. Ensuring these details are clear and agreed upon prevents last-minute confusion and delays. Choosing locations with ample space allows for easy maneuvering of transport vehicles, reducing the risk of damage to your vehicle during loading and unloading. This level of preparedness facilitates a stress-free transition, allowing you to focus on settling into your new home. By addressing these logistical details in advance, you set the stage for a successful and efficient vehicle relocation. Also, you can think about door-to-door car shipping option!

Check Registration and License

Checking your vehicle’s registration and license before an interstate move is a must-do task. Valid documentation is crucial when crossing state lines. Outdated paperwork can lead to unnecessary legal issues in a new state, something you definitely want to avoid. Each state has its own set of rules and requirements for vehicle registration and licensing. Therefore, updating these documents ensures compliance with the laws of the state you’re moving to. Having your vehicle’s registration and license in order allows you to focus on settling into your new home without the worry of legal troubles. This preparation removes one more potential stressor from the moving process, making your interstate journey a positive experience.

police car lights
Check that your vehicle’s registration and insurance are up to date to avoid legal issues across state lines.

Final Walkthrough

Performing a final walkthrough of your vehicle before it’s handed over for an interstate move is a critical step. This final check ensures that your car is ready for transport and that you haven’t overlooked anything. Here’s what to focus on:

  • Remove Personal Items: Ensure all personal belongings are out of the vehicle.
  • Secure Loose Parts: Double-check that all loose parts or accessories are securely fastened or removed.
  • Document the Vehicle’s Condition: Make sure you have photos or videos of your vehicle’s current state for your records.
  • Check for Leaks: Look under the vehicle for any signs of leaks. This could indicate a problem that needs fixing before transport.
  • Tire Pressure: Verify that the tires are inflated to the recommended pressure level.
  • Fuel Level: Confirm the fuel tank is about a quarter full, as advised for transport.
  • Alarm System: Ensure the alarm system is disabled.
  • Spare Key: Keep a spare key with you and hand over the set to the movers.

After completing these checks, discuss with the transport team what you have prepared and documented. Knowing you’ve done everything to prepare your vehicle properly allows for an easy transport process.

Keep Important Documents Handy

Documents might be necessary at various stages of the transport process or immediately after your vehicle reaches its destination. Having them handy can significantly ease any procedures that may arise, such as inspections, registrations, or unexpected claims. This preparation ensures you can swiftly address any requirements or issues without delay. This can include the vehicle’s registration, proof of insurance, your driver’s license, and any transport-related paperwork. Organizing these documents in a secure yet accessible folder or file can save you time and stress. Whether it’s a routine check or a sudden need that arises during transport, you’ll be prepared.

woman holding papers
Keep all important documents, like your registration, insurance, and transport contract, easily accessible during the move.

When Shouldn’t You Prepare Your Vehicle for an Interstate Move?

There is no situation in which you should leave your car unchecked when relocating. But put special attention to winter shipping. Even if you are having it shipped by truck from doorstep-to-doorstep, you should at least check the interior for loose objects that can damage the car while it’s on the move.

Car Shipping Costs

The average cost to ship a car stands at $1,150. However, this figure can vary widely. Prices may dip as low as $550 or soar up to $2,450. Such variations depend on several factors. The type of vehicle, the distance it needs to travel, and the chosen transportation method play significant roles. Costs typically range from $0.60 to $1.70 per mile, making the average price around $1.15 per mile. Factors like vehicle size, shipping urgency, and specific requirements (such as enclosed transport for luxury vehicles) can influence the final price. Opting for open transport can help you save money on car shipping, but may not offer the same level of protection as enclosed transport.

person holding paper bill
Choosing a reputable shipping company that provides the right balance of service and cost can help ensure your vehicle arrives safely and at a reasonable price.

Prepare Your Vehicle for an Interstate Move With Ease!

Preparing your vehicle for transportation is a crucial step towards a successful move to your new destination. Following a structured approach, from giving your car a thorough clean to securing loose parts and documenting its condition, can be very helpful. Remember, the goal is to safeguard your vehicle during transit and arrive ready to hit the road in your new locale. Knowing how to prepare your vehicle for an interstate move allows you to focus on the adventures that lie ahead!