How To Ship A Car

There are many reasons that you may need to ship a vehicle rather than driving it to a particular destination. Moving a car across many states can be much easier by using a shipping service, especially if you want to keep all those extra miles off the vehicle.

There are a few ways that you can ship a vehicle. Which one you choose will depend on the vehicle type, desired budget, and shipping preparation time.  VINsmart will teach you the best way to ship a car to meet your requirements.

Shipping Options

When it comes to shipping your vehicle within the US, the best choice is a car carrier. Car carriers are available as either open or covered carriers.  You have probably seen open carriers on the roads with between five and eight vehicles being transported on them.

Covered carriers are preferred for people who are moving expensive or collectible cars. These carriers keep the vehicles protected at all times, so there is no risk of road debris damaging the vehicle. Anyone can use this service, not just luxury car owners. However, you should be aware that this service is almost double the price of a standard carrier.

If you are in a hurry to move your vehicle, you have the option of shipping it by airplane. However, you may get sticker shock at how much this service will cost. It is very expensive to move a vehicle this way.

International moves will require you to move the car by ship. You may be able to move it in a shipping container or as a parked vehicle within the ship. You will need to contact different international shippers to determine which of these methods is your best choice.

How To Ship A Car

Preparing Your Car For Shipment

There are several things you should do to prepare your car for shipment. They include:

  • Remove all personal belongings. You want to make sure that everything, including the trunk and console areas, has been removed from the vehicle. This ensures that nothing is lost during transport.
  • Clean the vehicle inside and out and take photos prior to shipping.  A clean car is much easier to show any damages to the interior or exterior of the vehicle.
  • Make sure the car will start. The movers need to be able to start your vehicle to get it in and out of the transporter. Make sure the battery is in working condition so it will start when it arrives at the destination.
  • Only have about a quarter tank of gas in the vehicle. Not only is it safer to move a vehicle with less fuel, but it is also cheaper. Movers typically charge by vehicle weight, and a full tank of gas can be very heavy.
  • Ensure you have the spare set of keys. While shippers may not be in the habit of losing keys, it doesn’t hurt to know where the spare set is when the vehicle arrives.

Selecting a Shipping Company

Picking out a shipping company to move your vehicle should be approached just like any other service that you are considering. When you look for a shipper, take the following into account:

  • Get multiple quotes. Every company will have a different cost for their services as well as any additional services that they provide.
  • Look into the different pricing structures for both covered and uncovered transport.
  • Review policies for on-time deliveries and what the company does if damage occurs to the vehicle.

It is also important to check with your car insurance company to verify if shipping your vehicle is covered by your policy.  You may have to pay for the service out of pocket if that is the case.

Arrival at Destination

There are different delivery options to select from when your vehicle arrives at its destination location. You can have your vehicle:

  • Delivered to your door
  • Dropped off at a car dealership
  • Dropped off at the shipper’s storage facility

How to ship a car

Delivery to your door is the most expensive option with any carrier. Having a delivery semi-truck drive through your neighborhood also may not be the most practical choice.

If other vehicles are also being delivered to a car dealership, you may be able to have your car delivered there for a fee. However, most dealers will give you a day or two to retrieve the vehicle once it is delivered.

You can also have your vehicle delivered directly to a storage unit used by the shipping company. For a small fee, the car can be dropped and stored there until you pick it up. If you select this method, make sure you know when you can pick it up and how long they will hold the vehicle before charging extra.

In the end, the most important things you can do before shipping your vehicle is research and ask lots of questions before deciding which option is best for you and your vehicle.

When Purchasing A Vehicle

Always remember to run a VINsmart report on any used vehicle before making a purchase.  A VINsmart report runs a complete history on the vehicle including whether it has ever been reported as stolen, involved in a major accident, or listed as a totaled vehicle.

VINsmart reports will also give you a registration history and mileage at registration.  It reports any significant incidents related to the vehicle, such as being involved in a fire or flood.

When you are going to purchase a used vehicle, the best way to ensure you are making a good purchase is to know the vehicle’s complete history.


To get started with VINsmart, click here.

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