Vehicle Shipping: A Trucker's Pre-trip Checklist

by Jeanne Longhorne

One of the most crucial aspects to the commercial driving industry is preparation. Being properly prepared for a trip is the key to ensuring that it will be a successful and safe journey. This is also true within the vehicle shipping industry where planning ahead of time is critical. Here is a pre-trip checklist to follow before making a long distance vehicle shipment to better prepare yourself before you ever start driving.

Inspect the Truck You Will Be Driving

The first thing you need to do before any long trip, let alone a vehicle shipment, is inspect the truck you will be driving.

To start the inspection, begin with the front of the vehicle. This will include checking the headlights and mirrors to make sure they are working properly as well as inspecting the front tires and wheels to make sure all lugnuts are tightened and the tires are full. Also, it is important to check the front suspension and brakes to make sure they are operating correctly.

Next you should check the engine area. This involves checking all fluid levels and inspecting hoses for leaks. It may also be a good idea to test the alternator as well as this time.

Finally, move on to inspecting the rear of the vehicle. Similar to the front of the vehicle, check the rear suspension and brakes as well as the tires and wheels. It is also necessary at this time to check under the vehicle and examine the drive shaft and exhaust system.

For the purpose of vehicle shipping, it is also important that you conduct many of these same inspections on the trailer you are using for shipment.

Conduct Proper Inspection of Vehicle Being Shipped

Next you will need to conduct an inspection of the vehicle that you will be shipping. This involves checking the outside of the vehicle thoroughly for any external damage. Look for any cracks, scratches, or abrasions on the vehicle and note them accordingly. It is imperative that you record everything in a report to protect yourself/company against any claims for damages by the person shipping the vehicle.

At this time it is also a good idea to remind the customer to deactivate any alarms on the vehicle or at least advise you on how to do so. This will prevent you from being unable to disable an alarm during transport. Also, make sure the owner of the vehicle lets you know about any unique quirks the vehicle may have or any potential issues you should be aware of prior to shipment.

Ensure you have All Necessary Documentation

Finally, you must make sure you have all the proper documentation. Most importantly, you will need to ensure you have a signed copy of the aforementioned vehicle inspection report and a Bill of Lading. If you do not have this signed documentation you could open yourself up to all sorts of trouble. Also, it is important to acquire proof of insurance from the owner of the vehicle. It may also be necessary to have documentation for customs if crossing international borders.

It takes a lot to be adequately prepared for a vehicle shipment. However, following the checklist outlined here can ensure that you are properly organized prior to transport. Being prepared is key in the shipping industry and doing so will help you be more successful.

Jeanne Longhorne is a freelance writer who typically writes within the shipping industry and specifically the auto transport industry. Currently, she writes on behalf of the car shipping company American Auto Move.

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