How To Get a Car Shipped: Ultimate Guide

Rochdi Rais Rochdi Rais · Updated February 23, 2024

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Are you planning on relocating or buying/selling a car from another state? Or maybe you just purchased your dream car from a dealer but are unsure how to get a car shipped? Whatever the reason may be, shipping your car has become a popular choice for those unable or unwilling to drive their car cross-country.

However, the process can seem daunting for those who haven’t shipped a car before. That is why this ultimate guide to car shipping is here to help! In this post, we’ll cover everything you need to know about shipping a car across the country, from finding a reliable auto transporter to understanding the cost to how to prepare your car for shipment.

Understanding Car Shipping

What exactly is car shipping? Car shipping, also known as auto transport or vehicle shipping, is the process of transporting a vehicle from one location to another via a carrier truck. The process of car shipping can vary depending on the type of service you need or the distance of the shipment. There are two types of car shipping services:

1) Open Car Shipping – This is the most common type of car shipping service in which your car is transported on an open carrier trailer. The carrier trailer can hold up to 10 cars, and your car will be exposed to weather elements while in transit.

2) Enclosed Car Shipping – This more expensive car shipping service offers more protection and security for your car. Your car will be shipped in an enclosed trailer, protecting it from weather elements and road debris. This option is ideal for luxury or high-end cars.

How to Find a Reliable Auto Transporter

Now that you know what car shipping is, the next step is finding a reliable auto transporter. Many auto transport companies are out there, but not all offer quality service. Here are some ways to help you find a reliable auto transporter:

1) Check the Reviews – Look for auto transport companies with positive customer reviews on independent review websites like Yelp and Google My Business. Check out the company’s social media profiles for feedback from past customers.

2) Ask for Recommendations – Ask friends, family or business associates if they’ve ever used an auto transport company and if they would recommend them.

3) Check Their Credentials – Ensure the auto transport company has the required licenses and insurance to protect your car while in transit.

4) Get Multiple Quotes – Obtain quotes from multiple auto transport companies to compare pricing and services. However, be wary of companies offering rates significantly lower than their competitors, as this can be a sign of subpar service.

5) Research the Company – Search for the auto transport company’s website and social media, and look for information about their experience, services, and company history.

Understanding the Costs

One of the most common questions about car shipping is how much it will cost. The cost of car shipping can vary significantly depending on the distance of the shipment, the type of vehicle, the type of service, and the time of year. Here are some factors that influence the cost of car shipping:

1) Distance – The cost of car shipping is usually calculated based on the distance of the shipment. The farther the distance, the more expensive it will be.

2) Type of Vehicle – The size and weight of the vehicle will also affect the cost of car shipping. Larger or heavier vehicles will require more space on the carrier trailer, resulting in a higher cost.

3) Type of Service – As mentioned earlier, enclosed car shipping is more expensive than open car shipping due to the added protection and security.

4) Time of Year – Car shipping costs fluctuate throughout the year, with prices typically higher during the summer months when demand is higher.

5) Location – The pickup and delivery location can also affect the cost of car shipping. Remote locations or places with limited carrier access may result in a higher cost.

Preparing Your Car for Shipment

Still wondering how to get a car shipped? Once you’ve found a reliable auto transporter and have an estimated cost, the next step is to prepare your car for shipment. Here are some things you should do before shipping your car:

1) Clean Your Car – Wash your car both inside and out before shipment, taking pictures of any existing scratches or damages.

2) Remove Personal Items – Do not leave any personal belongings or valuables in your car during shipment, as insurance does not cover them.

3) Disable Alarms – If your car has an alarm system, disable it before shipping to prevent any unnecessary disturbances.

4) Check for Leaks – Check for any leaks or mechanical issues and communicate them to the auto transporter.

5) Remove Loose Parts – Remove any loose or aftermarket parts that can easily detach during shipment, such as spoilers or antennas.

Finalizing the Shipment

Now that your car is prepared for shipment, it’s time to finalize the details. Here are some things you should do before shipment:

1) Review and Sign the Contract – Review the contract carefully and ensure all details are accurate. Sign the contract and keep a copy for your records.

2) Confirm Pickup and Delivery Dates – Confirm the pickup and delivery dates with the auto transporter and be available at both locations during the designated times.

3) Make Payment – Payment is typically required before shipment, so ensure you have the necessary funds.

4) Inspect the Car – Inspect the car carefully upon delivery and note any damages or issues in the Bill of Lading.

Choosing Between Door-to-Door and Terminal-to-Terminal Shipping

When shipping a car, you’ll need to decide between door-to-door and terminal-to-terminal shipping. Each option has its advantages and disadvantages.

Door-to-door shipping involves the auto transporter picking up your car from your desired location and delivering it directly to your specified destination. This option offers more convenience; you won’t need to transport your car to or from a shipping terminal. However, door-to-door shipping can be more expensive and may not be possible for remote or hard-to-reach locations.

Terminal-to-terminal shipping, on the other hand, requires you to drop off your car at a designated terminal and pick it up from another terminal at your destination. This option is usually more affordable but less convenient, as you’ll need to coordinate the drop-off and pick-up times with the shipping company. Additionally, you’ll need to arrange transportation to and from the terminals.

When choosing between door-to-door and terminal-to-terminal shipping, consider factors such as your budget, location, and schedule. Weigh the pros and cons of each option to determine which one best suits your needs.

Handling Delays and Potential Issues During Car Shipping

While car shipping is generally a straightforward process, delays or issues may arise during transit. Here are some tips for handling potential problems:

  1. Stay in communication with the auto transporter: Keep the lines of communication open with the shipping company. They should provide updates on the status of your shipment and notify you of any delays or issues.
  2. Be flexible with your schedule: Understand that unforeseen circumstances, such as weather or traffic, can cause delays. Be prepared to adjust your schedule if necessary.
  3. Document any damages: Upon delivery, carefully inspect your car for any damages that may have occurred during transit. Note any issues on the Bill of Lading and take photos as evidence.
  4. Contact the shipping company: If there are any damages or issues, contact the shipping company immediately to discuss the situation and determine the next steps. Keep all documentation and correspondence related to the shipment.
  5. Know your rights: Familiarize yourself with your rights and responsibilities as a consumer when shipping a car. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) provides resources and guidelines for consumers shipping vehicles.

By staying informed and prepared, you can handle any delays or issues that may arise during the car shipping process, ensuring a positive experience overall.

FAQs: How To Get a Car Shipped

How Do I Find a Reliable Auto Transporter for Shipping My Car?

Research and compare different auto transport companies, check for positive customer reviews, ask for recommendations, and verify their credentials.

How Much Does It Cost to Ship a Car?

The cost varies depending on factors like distance, type of vehicle, type of service, time of year, and location. Get multiple quotes from different companies for an accurate estimate.

What’s the Difference Between Open and Enclosed Car Shipping?

Open car shipping transports your car on an open carrier trailer, while enclosed car shipping provides additional protection with a covered trailer. Enclosed shipping is ideal for luxury or high-end cars.

How Do I Prepare My Car for Shipping?

Clean your car, remove personal items, disable alarms, check for leaks, and remove loose parts before shipping.

Do I Need To Be Present During Pickup and Delivery?

Yes, you or someone you trust should be present at both pickup and delivery to inspect the car and handle any paperwork.

Bottom Line: How To Get a Car Shipped

Getting a car shipped doesn’t have to be a stressful experience. You can ensure a smooth and successful shipment by understanding the car shipping process, finding a reliable auto transporter, and preparing your car for shipment.

If you’re looking for a reliable auto transport service, consider CitizenShipper. Our platform connects you with thousands of verified and vetted transporters, ensuring your car gets to its destination safely and securely.