Process Preparing

Car Shipping – Preparing Your Vehicle for Transport

Though damage during transport is relatively uncommon, by taking a few easy steps to prepare your vehicle you’ll minimize the risk.


      Using a camera or the one on your phone,
      record all damage. If something does happen
      while your vehicle is being shipped, it’ll make it
      easy for you and the company to identify what’s
      new and what’s old.


      In many cases, the law prohibits moving
      personal and household items in a vehicle
      that’s being shipped. You also may need to
      remove aftermarket items like truck caps,
      roof racks and spoilers, so ask your
      representative if any of these apply to you.


    Unless it was noted at the time of booking, your
    vehicle will need to be in operable condition
    before it’s shipped. Prior to your move date,
    replace weak batteries, fill tires with air, check
    the fluids, and make sure your gas (fuel) tank is
    less than half full.

Process Packing

Should I Pack Stuff In My Car When I Ship It?

Though each car shipper has its own policies, it’s generally not a
good idea to pack things into your vehicle before it’s moved.

Remember, car shipping services are not
household goods moving companies.
In fact, some auto transport companies will
refuse to ship a car that’s stuffed with
household goods, and it may even be
against the law.

It’s probably OK to put a suitcase or a few
small boxes of toys or clothes in the
trunk, but always communicate your
intentions to your move coordinator.

Though light unbreakable items like bedding
and winter coats may be stowed in the back
seat safely, heavy, valuable, delicate and
irreplaceable items like pictures and
glassware should never be transported in
a vehicle while it’s on a truck.

Not only could they get damaged as the
truck bumps along the road, but they could
damage the interior of your car as well.

In short, auto transport isn’t a good way
to ship items when you’re moving across
the country. It’s just not worth it, so find
another option if you can.

Process Tip

Insider’s Tip:

Car Shippers love flexible customers!

Before signing a contract with a vehicle transporter, consider the following:

  1. Book your car transport service well in advance of your actual move date – it’s a great way to lock in a low rate.
  2. If your pick-up and delivery dates are flexible, car carriers are much more likely to cut you a break on the price because you’re making their job easier.
  3. A last-minute car shipping request can create a big headache for a busy auto shipper, so they’ll increase their price to make it worth their while.
Since auto shippers do much of their yearly business during the peak season (between May and September) they typically lower rates during the low season to entice customers into using their service. On the flip side, shipping your vehicle during the peak summer season is usually significantly more pricey.

If you live in a rural area outside busy auto transport lanes, we recommend making arrangements to take your vehicle to the nearest city or town and having it picked up there.

This is often referred to as terminal-to-terminal, or hub-to-hub transportation, and it’s usually much cheaper than door-to-door service.

Shipping more than one vehicle on the same truck will save you money, so letting the pros handle your wheels and taking a flight may be the way to go if you’d rather not make a long drive.

Though auto transporters often advertise discounts and promotions, it’s wise to let them know if you’re a veteran or active military member, teacher, student, senior citizen, repeat customer, or police officer.

How Long Does Car Shipping Take?

  1. Car transport services almost always give their customers a “delivery window.”
  2. For instance, if you’re having your car shipped from Washington DC to Albuquerque, New Mexico, your delivery window may be between 4 and 8 days.
  3. That means that at their discretion, the car transport company can deliver your vehicle any day within that period and fulfill the terms of the contract.
  4. Of course on a shorter move, like one between Baltimore, Maryland and Trenton, New Jersey, the delivery window would be shorter because the mileage is much lower.
  5. Remember too, that the driver will need to make additional pick-ups and deliveries along the way.
  6. Of course breakdowns, inclement weather conditions and unexpected road closures and construction can also delay car transportation.

The time between when your vehicle is picked up and delivered is largely determined by distance, season, and whether you’re moving from and to rural states like Arkansas, Tennessee and Minnesota, or more populated urban ones like New York and California.

Process Cheapest

What Is the Cheapest Way to Ship A Car?

As previously mentioned, the cost to ship a car can vary based on a number of factors including your personal needs, method of transportation, an what type of car, light truck or SUV you have.

Open Auto Transport is the industry standart for shipping automobiles because it’s safe and relatively inexpensive.

Likewise, it’s cheaper to ship an operable vehicle than one that doesn’t run. Most carriers can move inoperable vehicles using a winch, but they’ll charge you extra, so if possible make sure yours is in working order before scheduling to have it moved.

Process Verdict

Should I Drive or Hire an Auto Transport Company?

The decision to drive your car cross-country or ship it professionally usually comes down to distance, personal preference and budget, and assessing the pros and cons of each car shipping options carefully.

On the positive side, driving your car cross-country can be:

  1. Fun and adventurous
  2. Relatively inexpensive
  3. Faster than having it shipped

Conversely, it can be stressful and dangerous due to:

  1. Driving through unsafe road
    conditions and bad weather like ice
    and snow.
  2. Breakdowns in places like rural
    Arizona when it’s 115 degrees, you’re
    22 miles from the nearest service
    station, and don’t have cellphone
  3. Having to stay at ratty and possibly
    unsafe hotels off the interstate.
  4. The increased risk of accidents,
    which often end up costing more
    than shipping your car would have.
  5. The unpleasantness of being cooped
    up with spouses, kids, and pets for
    days on end.

The Verdict

Shipping your car with a professional auto transport provider is almost always safer and less stressful than driving, and in some instances it’s even cheaper too.