How to Ship Your Car and Feel Secure About It

Jon Fesmire | September 14, 2020 @ 9:00 AM

Moving a short distance, say, up to 200 miles, is tough enough. Between packing, coordinating the move, and getting to the destination, people moving have their work cut out for them. When you’re moving even farther, though, it gets more complicated.

For long moves, you may need to consider shipping your car to your destination. There are several reasons you might need to do this. Maybe you’ve hired a moving company to transport everything from one home to the next already and you plan to simply fly to your destination. Maybe you’re going to drive the moving truck yourself and have no one to drive your car.

Whatever the case, shipping your car is always an option. The trick is to find a shipping company you feel confident about, that will keep your car safe and deliver it on time.

Research Early

Once you know that you’re moving and that you’ll need your car shipped, start researching vehicle carriers. That way, you’ll have plenty of time to work with one before your move.

Look up all the local carriers online and give each a call. The rest of this article will give you ideas on the types of questions to ask. Then, check the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) online. For each company, look for their complaint history, insurance record, and shipping license. You can also see if they have reviews on Google or Yelp. You’re looking for the most trustworthy shippers.

Get Quotes

When you’ve found shippers that seem trustworthy based on their FMCSA information, reviews, and your experience with them, get quotes. Keep in mind that they will need a lot of information from you as well, as there are numerous things that affect the cost of shipping a car.

These include the type of vehicle, it’s weight, if the car is driveable, the time of year (shipping is often cheaper in the winter), the distance shipped, whether you’re using covered or uncovered transport and whether you’re using door-to-door or terminal-to-terminal shipping.


Two things can get the weight of your vehicle down a bit and save you money, and both are important steps for other reasons. First, clean out your car. You don’t want to leave personal possessions in the car both because they will affect the weight and because you’ll want to keep them safe. Second, keep just a quarter tank of gas in the car. This will reduce the weight and will ensure you have enough fuel to get home after you pick up the car, or at least to get to the nearest gas station.

Covered and Uncovered Transport

We’ve all see vehicle carriers on the highway, hauling a number of cars on two layers. This is uncovered transport. It’s safe but does leave your car vulnerable to weather conditions and to the grime that can come up from the road. Note that if your car is on the second level, it’s less likely to get as dirty. Uncovered transportation also leaves your car susceptible to scratches and dents.

Covered transport protects your car from weather and road conditions, but is significantly more expensive.

Door-to-Door and Terminal-to-Terminal

Do you want the company to pick up your car at your current home, and drop it off where you’re moving to? Or, are you fine with dropping it off at a business location, or terminal, near where you live now, and to pick it up at another terminal near your destination?

Door-to-door service will cost more, and exactly how much more will depend on how far out of their way the shipping service has to go. Terminal to terminal is less expensive. However, you may have to wait for a truck to have enough cars to ship before they ever leave, and your car may be subject to parking fees.


It’s important to find out if your insurance covers damage during shipping. However, even if it doesn’t, the shipping company should have liability insurance. Make sure they do. It should cover between $50,000 and $100,000, should your car take any damage.

Vehicle Inspection

When you bring your car to the terminal or the company picks it up, you and an employee will do a vehicle inspection. Together, you’ll check for scratches, dints, and dings. You and the inspector must agree to what damage exists. Make sure you get a copy of the paper that shows this after you’ve both signed. Also, take photos of your vehicle on all sides. If your car comes back with damage, take new pictures. You can use these for the insurance claim.

Shipping Times

Finally, realize that cars take longer to ship than packages. You can expect it to take about four weeks domestically and eight weeks internationally to ship your car.

Now that you have the basics of how to get your car shipped, we’re confident you’ll be able to hire a great vehicle mover at a fair price. For additional information about vehicles, including boat and RV storage, check out the many related articles in our blog.

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