The Risks To Your Tires When Shipping A Car

Shipping vehicles has become more commonplace as people either buy cars from abroad or even take their vehicle abroad. However, it is a complicated operation and this can come with all types of risks from damage, theft, and even tire damage.

Failing to take the proper precautions when preparing to have a car shipped can lead to unforeseen issues or even damage to your vehicle and its tires. 

Below, we’ll go into the more common tire problems when shipping vehicles and how to properly prepare your vehicle for shipment to avoid any disputes. 

Common Risks to Tires When Shipping Your Vehicle

1. Overinflated/Underinflated tires

The biggest risk for your tires when it comes to shipping is that you don’t maintain them before handing off the vehicle to the transportation company. If you have under or overinflated your tires, this could lead to damage during loading and unloading.

Your vehicle is normally loaded onto an open container and carries around 6-12 cars. If the tires are not inflated properly, this could lead to issues when the driver loads and unloads your vehicle, leading to delays as well as extra fees for holding up the other deliveries. 

There are also likely to be significant temperature and/or pressure changes while shipping your vehicle. If your tires are not roadworthy, have expired, or are damaged and perhaps have been significantly worn down, the strain of shipping might cause your tire to fail.

When a tire fails, the pressurized air inside the tire quickly and forcibly exist the tire and can cause damage to anything in the near vicinity, including the car. This is why it is important to ensure that your tires are in a good condition with no obvious damage or punctures.  

2. Risk of Punctures When Vehicle is Loaded

When loaded, your vehicle will be driven onto the open or enclosed trailer (unless specified that you would prefer it to be specially loaded via crane).  While it’s always the case that professional shipping companies (like take the utmost care of your vehicle, there is always the chance that there is debris on the road that can puncture your tires during loading.

While this is an inconvenience, the damage will be covered by any reputable shipping company. Insurance normally insures the vehicle entirely, but if you have a luxury or exotic vehicle, you’ll want to double-check with your transportation company what the liability is for the coverage.

3. Misalignment Risks when Specialized Loading is Used

Alignment risks are possible when your vehicle is loaded onto the trailer. The bigger risk is if you opt for an enclosed trailer and specialized crane loading. Instead of your vehicle being driven onto the ramp, it’ll be loaded and unloaded via a crane.

This is normally only done for relatively expensive or out-of-commission vehicles, but if the car is not properly loaded, then alignment issues can happen. If this seems to be the case, it’s important to contact your transportation company to open a dispute.

It’s also imperative that you take careful records of the state of your vehicle before being shipped. If you’ve taken it for a checkup, it’s a good idea to have documentation from a third party that can verify your vehicle was properly aligned before being shipped.

How to Prepare Your Vehicle for Shipment?

1. Get all documents in order

Before you ship your vehicle, you’ll need the vehicle registration information, bill of sale, original title, identification, and proof of insurance. You should have all of these documents on hand before you contact any shipping companies to avoid any delays.

If you’re shipping internationally, then you’ll need to handle the import duties and taxes that you’ll be liable for during shipment. 

2. Wash the car and take photos

Wash the inside and outside of your car. While it may seem silly, the real purpose is so you can take photos of your vehicle before you hand it off. The reason is that if there is any damage after the car has been handed off, you have documented proof the vehicle was in good order beforehand.

3. Remove any personal items

Remove any personal items that you may have stored inside of your vehicle. You can keep some items in the trunk, but it’s advised that you take all valuables with you. Any loose items left in the car can lead to damage and even window breakage.

4. Get your vehicle checked up

Before handing your car over, it’s a good idea to get your vehicle inspected. Ensure all tires are inflated properly, your fluid is in check and the brakes are in good condition. If you suspect your car may break down in between transport, it will cause delays, and a check-up can prevent a costly mishap.

5. Empty the gas tank

More gas in the tank will lead to a higher load and more fuel being used by the driver. Most auto transport companies will ask you to leave your gas tank at 1/4th capacity. This is also to prevent any fire damage that may occur.

6. Remove any outside accessories

Any outside accessories like ski or bike racks, antennas, or spoilers must be removed. If however your vehicle is being put into a personal enclosed trailer, you’ll likely not have any problems.

7. Witness the inspection

When you hand over your vehicle, it’ll be inspected on the spot. Ask to see the documentation before you sign off your vehicle to be transported. If there is any discrepancy in the inspection documents, it could lead to difficulty if you need to claim insurance for damages during delivery.

Joe Webster from A-1 states: “Inspections are a critical part of the shipping process that mustn’t be understated. It’s important that you look over all the documents and verify that the inspection was done properly.”


While you normally shouldn’t have an issue with a reputable automobile transport company, mishaps do happen. It’s important to have your vehicle checked beforehand to ensure tires are properly inflated to prevent any damage during delivery.

It is always a possibility that your vehicle is damaged along the journey. It’s critical that you choose a well-reviewed transport company that has years of experience, but the insurance coverage to take care of any incidents. 

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