Essential Steps For Vehicle Shipping – Things To Know Before Shipping Your Car

April 25, 2024

Shipping your car means more than just saving miles on your odometer.

It provides you with the comfort of knowing that your vehicle will reach its destination securely without you having to drive for long hours across multiple states. The challenge lies in picking the suitable transport service. It’s similar to deciding on a coffee order – do you go for a unique, premium option, or is an essential service sufficient? What are the costs involved? What steps must you take to prepare your vehicle for its journey when it travels without you?

Don’t worry! Moving through various vehicle shipping choices can be simpler than you think, unlike a complicated 1000-piece puzzle. We will give you essential tips to know before sending your car. Get ready for everything, just like a well-prepared scout. Are you ready to get started? Let’s jump into the critical details of shipping a vehicle because understanding is crucial to success. Continue reading to speed up your experience!

Choosing the Right Car Shipping Method

Shipping your vehicle offers different choices. You can select either open transport or enclosed transport. Each choice has benefits depending on what you need, the details of your car, and the travel distance. We’ll simplify these choices to help you decide the best one.

Open Transport: The Economical Choice

Open transport is the more common and economical choice. Imagine your car taking a road trip on a big, multi-story car carrier along with several others. It’s exposed to the elements, just like cars in a parking lot. This method is relatively cost-effective and is a solid choice for most standard vehicles.

Open transport makes much sense for shorter domestic journeys if we’re talking distance. It’s akin to flying economy class—no frills, but it gets you where you need to go without unnecessary expense. Most dealerships use this delivery method because it balances cost and efficiency well.

Enclosed Transport: The VIP Treatment

Think of your car as a VIPif it were famous, an enclosed trailer would be like its private ride. When you ship your car this way, it gets sheltered from the elements, dust, and bits of debris that kick up on the road. It’s similar to securing a premium ticket for your vehicle that guarantees spotless arrival.

This shipping method is perfect for fancy cars with serious value or those vintage beauties that require extra safety measures. Picture having a gleaming classic Shelby Mustang,letting it face rough weather during a move would be out of place. Certainly not smart. Sure, this option might cost more, but for those who collect shiny rides or adore luxury vehicles, investing in secure shipping is often well worth the extra cost.

Factors Influencing the Choice

·Type of Vehicle: As mentioned, the value and condition of your vehicle play a considerable role. Everyday rides typically fare well on open carriers, while collector pieces or luxury models might need the extra safeguarding that enclosed transport provides.

·Distance and Route: Consider the trip’s length and the potential weather conditions along the route. Long hauls across multiple climate zones might warrant enclosed transport to protect against variable weather.

·Budget Constraints: Cost is always a factor. Weigh the potential risk to your vehicle against the expense of enclosed transport. It might be tempting to cut corners but remember, repairs for damages incurred en route could dwarf the cost difference.

·Time Sensitivity: Enclosed transport can sometimes offer a faster option since fewer cars are being hauled, leading to quicker loading and unloading times.

Choosing between open and enclosed transport balances cost, vehicle protection, and practicality. Think about what you need from the shipping experience and what you’re most comfortable with for your vehicle. Either way, getting your car from Point A to Point B safely is most important, and selecting the correct type of transport can ensure just that.

Preparing Your Vehicle for Shipping

Get your car ready for transport as if you’re setting it up for a successful first date – aiming to impress and hoping for no hiccups! Follow these important steps to clean up and record details about your car before giving the keys over to the shipping service. We’ll go over what you need to do to get your vehicle primed for its trip.

Cleaning and Documenting the Vehicle’s Condition

Begin by washing your car completely, covering both the interior and exterior. This step is important because a clean car reveals scratches, dents, or other problems that dirt might hide. Imagine it as wiping your glasses clear vision comes when all the marks are removed. With your car shining, stroll around it with a camera in hand, ideally on a bright day to benefit from better light.

Snap pictures from every angle and zoom in on any pre-existing damage. These photos will serve as your baseline reference when the car arrives at its destination. It’s like having ‘before’ pictures at the start of a diet plan—you’ll have undeniable proof of what condition it was in beforehand.

Removing Personal Belongings and Valuables

Treat your car like you would a carryon bag on an airplane, make it lightweight and take out all valuables. Car carriers are generally trustworthy, but as your vehicle moves during the shipping process, things inside could move around and harm the interior. Plus, auto shipping companies usually won’t cover any personal items in your car for insurance purposes – if they’re lost or stolen, that’s your responsibility.

So ensure you empty everything – yes, even those ancient fast food wrappers hiding under the seats (it happens to the best of us) and the assortment of drink bottles sitting in door compartments. Peek underneath seats for any objects that might have fallen there unnoticed. If your car has a CD player, eject all CDs. If you can remove gadgets like a GPS, do that as well. Leave just what you absolutely need in the glove box, such as the papers for registration and insurance.

Additional Tips

  • Fuel Levels: Keep your fuel tank only about a quarter full. This is enough to load and unload the car but not so much that it adds extra weight (and extra risk) during transport.
  • Alarm Systems: If your car has an alarm system, turn it off before shipping. A constantly triggered alarm is a nuisance and could drain your battery.
  • Antennas and Accessories: Make sure to lower or detach antennas and remove items such as spoilers or mirrors that might break off easily. Think of it like preparing for a rough crowd by tucking in your shirt and taking off any dangling jewelry. Our goal is to avoid anything getting caught.

Selecting a Reliable Car Shipping Company

Choosing the perfect company to ship your car can be like solving a difficult puzzle. You’re looking for a trustworthy service that’s affordable and handles your vehicle carefully. Here are tips on how to sort through your choices and select the right one without confusion.

1. Dig into Their Reputation

Let’s start by doing some research. Check out previous customer reviews on platforms like the Better Business Bureau, Google, and Yelp. Understanding a company’s reliability and customer service is similar to viewing ratings before buying a new phone. Do the majority of customers give compliments, or are there stories of dissatisfaction? This information can be very telling.

2. Confirm Licensing and Insurance

Would you trust a doctor without a license? Probably not. The same goes for your vehicle shipper. Ensure they’re licensed by checking with the Department of Transportation (DOT). Next, drill down into their insurance details. Knowing they’re covered (and how much that cover extends to) can give you peace of mind.

3. Understand Their Services

What’s on offer? Some shippers provide door-to-door delivery, which is super convenient—think Amazon Prime, but for your car. Others might require you to pick up at a terminal. And then there’s the choice between open or enclosed carriers. If your car were an artwork, you’d choose enclosed, right? It’s pricier but protects your vehicle from the elements.

4. Evaluate Communication

Good Communication is critical. How responsive are they to your queries? Are they clear and helpful? It’s like good customer service at a restaurant—it improves the whole experience and tends to reflect the overall quality of service you can expect.

5. Compare Detailed Quotes

Let’s talk money. Get quotes from several contenders and compare them closely, like you would with insurance plans. Look beyond the base price. Are there any additional fees? Sometimes, the lowest price isn’t the best deal if it comes packed with extra charges.

6. Check for Specialization

Have you got a vintage car or a high-end model? Then, you’ll want a transporter with specific expertise, like a tailor specializing in bespoke suits. They’ll know how to handle your vehicle with the extra care required.

7. Ask About Tracking

We track everything from pizza delivery to parcel shipments in today’s world. Why not your car? See if the shipping company can track your vehicle during transit. It’s not just reassuring; it’s practical.

8. Read the Contract Thoroughly

Last but certainly not least, read the fine print as if it were a contract for your dream job. Understand every detail, from cancellation policies to damage claims. Knowing these details upfront can save you headaches later.

Factors Affecting Car Shipping Costs

1. Type of Transport: You can pick a basic hotel room equivalent or go for something more luxurious like a suite. If you want to save money, choose open transport. It’s dependable yet doesn’t cost too much. But if you’re transporting something precious like a luxury or classic car, then enclosed transport is better because it gives extra safeguarding against weather and dirt, although it does come with a higher price tag.

2. Distance and Location: It’s straightforward, traveling further means paying more, similar to how airfare from New York to Tokyo surpasses the cost of flying from New York to Miami. Additionally, if your car needs to be taken to or collected from an isolated area rather than somewhere central, expect the price to go up just as shipping fees increase for deliveries that are off the beaten path.

3. Vehicle Size and Weight: It’s common sense that shipping bigger and heavier vehicles will incur extra charges when you ship a car across states or within any given area. The size matters too, similar to how sending a large fridge costs more than sending a smaller microwave. This happens because fridges need more space on the transport truck and are heavier, making the truck use more fuel.

4. Seasonality: Shipping costs change with the seasons. They tend to go up in summertime and during big holidays when lots of people are traveling, just like airplane tickets cost more during those busy times. It’s all about how much demand there is for shipping services.

5. Current Fuel Prices: Just like a sudden increase in gas prices can make your daily commute more expensive, higher fuel prices can bump up the cost of shipping your car. It’s a direct cost that companies have to pass on to consumers.

Requesting and Comparing Quotes

1. Gather Quotes: Start by collecting several quotes from reputable companies—think of it like gathering estimates for a home renovation project. You wouldn’t hire the first contractor you meet without some comparison.

2. Compare Details: Line up the quotes and scrutinize them. What’s included in each? It’s not just about the lowest price; consider what you’re getting for your money. It’s like comparing gym memberships: Does one have better amenities that justify a higher cost?

3. Read Reviews: Dive into customer reviews for each company. A lower cost might come with the risk of poor service, much like a cheap hotel might save you money but cost you comfort.

4. Check for Hidden Fees: Make sure no sneaky charges are hidden in the fine print. Ask directly about additional fees, such as remote delivery or expedited service options. It’s like ensuring all service charges are included when you check the price of a banquet hall.

Booking and Scheduling Car Shipping

Reserving a spot for your car’s transport in advance is similar to grabbing early discount tickets – it usually costs less and you have a better chance of choosing your preferred time. Waiting until the last second to book? Expect to pay more, much like purchasing event tickets from a reseller at the venue. When you’re open to different delivery dates, you might spend less – picture it as being ready to take any open flight seat. However, if your car must reach its destination by a specific date, go for a set schedule to avoid any unexpected changes. Essentially, weigh what’s important to you against what you’re prepared to spend.

Tips for a Smooth Vehicle Transport Experience

Here are some actionable tips to help you enjoy a seamless vehicle transportation experience:

Use a Casual Tone to Keep Interactive Language 

Shipping your vehicle doesn’t have to be a roller coaster ride. With the proper Communication and some savvy prep work, you can ensure a smooth journey from pickup to delivery. Here’s the inside track on fine-tuning your interactions with the carrier and getting your car ready to hit the road without a hitch.

Communicating with the Carrier: Keep the Lines Open

Think of your relationship with the car shipping company like coordinating a group project—you’ll want to stay in touch and keep things transparent. From the moment you book, ensure you have direct contact information for someone responsible at the transport company. It’s like having a direct line to your bank manager or favourite service provider; when questions or concerns pop up, you know exactly whom to call.

Be proactive and check in a few days before the scheduled pickup to confirm that all details are still on track. This is similar to confirming your flight a day or two before you travel. Miscommunications can happen, and a quick call or email can prevent headaches. Make sure to ask for the driver’s contact info, too, so you can reach them directly if you need to on the transport day.

Preparing for Vehicle Pickup: It’s Showtime

On pickup day, think of it as sending your kid off to camp. You’d make sure they have their bag packed and aren’t forgetting anything important. For your car, that means a few specific tasks:

  • Document the Condition: Just as you might take a photo of a rental car before driving it off the lot to avoid disputes about scratches you didn’t cause, take detailed pictures of your vehicle from every angle. These will serve as a ‘before’ snapshot in case any issues arise during transport.
  • Remove Personal Items: Clear out personal belongings and valuables from your car. It’s like clearing out the house before you have it painted; it prevents your items from getting lost or damaged.
  • Check for Leaks: Look under the car for any signs of leaks a few days before. If there’s a drip, get it fixed. Sending a vehicle leaking fluids is like sending a sick child to school—it can cause problems for everyone else.
  • Turn off the Alarm: If your car has an alarm, ensure it’s turned off. Nothing is more embarrassing (or annoying for the driver) than your car alarm intermittently during a cross-country trip.

Preparing for Vehicle Delivery: The Home Stretch

As the delivery date approaches, connect with your carrier to confirm the time and place. This is akin to establishing a delivery appointment for a major appliance. Make sure the delivery area is accessible for large trucks; sometimes, a nearby parking lot is better if your street is narrow or crowded.

When your car arrives, inspect it thoroughly in the presence of the driver. Compare its condition to the pre-shipment photos you took. This is your chance to spot discrepancies, much like checking a hotel room for issues before settling in.

A smooth vehicle transport experience boils down to effective Communication, meticulous preparation, and proactive management. With these steps, you’ll have a hassle-free car shipping experience. Like any significant event, the devil is in the details, and caring for them ensures everything else falls into place.


Okay, pause and review what we’ve learned about smoothly shipping your car. Are you picking open or enclosed transport? It boils down to whether you prefer your vehicle to have light protection or be fully covered during its trip. Each option has advantages. Having a reliable transport company on call is essential. 

To prepare your car for its journey involves more than securing it. It would help if you had to clean it, toss those old coffee cups, and snap a ‘before’ picture. You’ll want to remember how it looked before its big adventure.

If all this preparation seems overwhelming, why not consider using uShip? uShip can be like the personal planner for your car’s journey, taking care of every little detail and ensuring that your vehicle travels smoothly from point A to point B without mishaps. So, are you ready to ship your car stress-free?

Visit uShip to get help with your shipping needs!

How much does it cost to ship a car?

The million-dollar question—well, hopefully, not that much! The cost can vary widely based on a few factors like distance, type of transport, and the time of year. Think of it like airline prices: a seat on the same flight can cost you vastly different amounts depending on when and how you book.

What is the cheapest way to ship a car?

Open transport is your best bet if you’re looking to pinch pennies. It’s like opting for a bus ticket instead of a private limo. Sure, your car won’t be the only one on the carrier, and it’ll face the elements head-on, but it’s significantly cheaper than shipping it in its own enclosed space.

How long does it take to ship a car?

This isn’t an overnight Amazon Prime deal; car shipping can take a few days to weeks. It all depends on the distance. Shipping coast to coast? Pack a little patience—it could take up to two weeks. Shorter distances will, of course, be quicker.

Is car shipping safe?

Absolutely! It’s as safe as ordering a pizza. Okay, maybe a tad safer than that, depending on where you get your pizza. The majority of cars arrive without a scratch. Still, like crossing the street, there’s always a risk, which is why you might want to consider…

Do I need car shipping insurance?

While your car will most likely arrive just fine, having insurance is like carrying an umbrella—it is better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it, right? Check if your auto insurance covers transport; if not, consider the options your shipping company offers for that extra peace of mind.

Photo credit: HWM.

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