Have you ever been in a rush to catch a flight and thought, “Do I need to clean my car before handing it over to the car shipping company?” If you’ve shrugged off this crucial step, you’re not alone.

However, cleaning your vehicle before shipping isn’t just about good manners; it’s essential for several reasons. In this article, we’ll dive into why you should never skip washing your car before the car shipping process begins.

The Basics of Car Shipping

First off, let’s get a grasp of the car shipping basics. Car shipping is the process of transporting a vehicle from one location to another using specialized car carrier services.

This can be especially useful for various reasons—perhaps you’re relocating for a job, selling your prized antique car, or maybe you’re a car enthusiast headed for a show on the other side of the country. Depending on your needs and budget, you can opt for open-air or enclosed car shipping, each with pros and cons.

Common Misconceptions

Many think cleaning their car before shipping it is an unnecessary chore. “It’s just going to get dirty in transit anyway, right?” Wrong. The notion that a vehicle doesn’t need to be clean for shipping is a myth that needs debunking. Here’s why.

Top Reasons to Clean Your Car Before Shipping

Alright, let’s dive into why it’s not just a courtesy but a necessity to clean your car before shipping it through an auto transport service. With years of expertise and a commitment to redefining standards, we at Fure Auto Transport want to break down the compelling reasons for having a clean car ready for shipment. Here’s why this step can be a game-changer:

1. Easy Inspection

Before your car ever gets on a carrier, it undergoes a rigorous visual inspection by the auto transport company. This isn’t just a cursory glance; it’s a detailed look to identify any pre-existing damages like dents, scratches, or paint issues.

Now, if your car is covered in dust and grime, this process becomes cumbersome and less accurate. Not only could this affect the integrity of the car shipping quotes you’ve received, but it could also lead to disputes down the line. A spotless car ensures that the initial assessment is as precise as possible.

2. Avoid Additional Charges

You think you’ve figured out your car shipping cost, but then—surprise!—you’re hit with hidden fees. Some auto shipping companies might charge extra if your car isn’t up to their cleanliness standards. To keep your shipping price as close to the original quote as possible, it’s wise to present a clean car to the carrier.

3. Pest Control

A dirty car is a hotel for pests; it’s as simple as that. The last thing anyone wants is a two-for-one deal where your car arrives at its destination with some unwelcome critters. It’s not just about comfort but also the potential damage these pests can cause. So scrub down your vehicle to keep it bug-free and in line with our high-quality customer service standards.

4. Weight Factors

You might scoff at the idea, but layers of dirt, dust, and grime do add weight to your vehicle. And in an industry where the shipping price is often calculated by weight, every pound counts. Lighten the load and possibly your final bill by ensuring your car is clean.

5. Resale Value

A car that arrives at its destination sparkling clean is a car that’s ready for the showroom or resale market. Don’t underestimate the impact of long-term dirt and grime; they can degrade paint and interior materials, negatively affecting the resale value of your car.

6. Personal Items

Let’s face it, we all use our cars as secondary storage spaces from time to time. But those personal items need to come out before shipping. A clean interior will make it easier for you to locate and remove these items, ensuring nothing gets lost or damaged in transit.

7. Legal Requirements

Some jurisdictions have legal standards that require a car to be clean before shipping. Failure to comply with these regulations won’t just delay your shipment; it could also trigger—yes, you guessed it—even more hidden fees.

Tips for Effective Car Cleaning Before Shipping

Okay, you get it—washing your car before sending it off with an auto transport service isn’t just a good idea, it’s a must-do. But how do you make sure you’re cleaning it effectively? Let’s review some actionable advice to get that car looking spick and span before it hits the road.

Why Clean Your Car Before Shipping: Top Reasons
By Getty Images

1. Give Special Attention to the Undercarriage

You might be surprised at the amount of grime, debris, and even salt (if you’re in a winter climate) that can accumulate under your car. These elements could lead to rust or other issues down the line, affecting not only the car’s performance but also its resale value. So, make sure you give your undercarriage a thorough wash.

2. Deep Clean the Interior

You’re missing half the game if you’re only focused on the outside. A clean interior is equally important for several reasons. For starters, you’ll make removing and accounting for any personal items easier. Plus, a well-cleaned interior reduces the chance of unpleasant odors or mold developing during transit.

3. Don’t Overlook the Trunk

Sure, you use it for storage, but the trunk is still part of your car. Take the time to remove any items and give it a good vacuuming. Check the spare tire compartment and any hidden compartments for forgotten items or debris. Not only does this reduce weight, but it also ensures a smoother inspection process when your car arrives at its destination.

Common Pitfalls and How to Dodge Them

While cleaning your car, a misstep can cost you time and money or even cause damage to your vehicle. Here’s what you should be on the lookout for to avoid:

1. Steer Clear of Harsh Cleaning Products

Your car’s paint job is one of its most visible features, so the last thing you want to do is tarnish it with abrasive cleaners. Stick to automotive cleaning products that are known to be gentle yet effective.

2. Document the State of Your Car Post-Cleaning

Once you’ve got your car shining, it’s tempting to just admire the work and move on. But hold up—take detailed photos of both the exterior and interior of your vehicle. This provides a clear record that’s useful for the visual inspection process by the auto shipping companies and could serve as crucial evidence in case of any disputes or issues.

3. Double-Check for Personal Items

Personal items left in your car are generally not covered by a car transport company’s insurance. Plus, they could move around during transit, potentially causing damage to the interior. Ensure you’ve removed all your belongings—especially from areas you might not look at frequently, like glove compartments, door pockets, and under the seats.


While cleaning your car before shipping may seem like an additional hassle, the benefits far outweigh the effort involved. From protecting your vehicle during transit to ensuring a smooth inspection process, cleaning your car can save you time, money, and potential headaches. So, before you ship your car, take the time to clean it thoroughly – you’ll be glad you did.

As a premier auto transport brokerage, we at Fure Auto Transport are dedicated to redefining excellence in the auto transport industry. We firmly believe that a clean car is a non-negotiable aspect of a seamless vehicle shipping process. It benefits both you, the customer, and us as service providers.