How to Ship a Vehicle


Shipping your car isn’t something the average person has to do very often. However, when that day comes, it can leave one scratching their head wondering exactly how to get their car from point A to point B.

If you think it’s as easy as calling up a company and having them load up your car with no thought on your part, you’re sorely mistaken. You don’t have to do too many Google searches to find horror stories of car shipments gone terribly awry (this is probably not what you want to see when someone tries to move your BMW).

Every car’s a little different and they all have their quirks, so you’ll want to make certain you put your auto shipper in a position to succeed. Here’s a short list of items to think about before handing over your vehicle.

  1. Note any damage before you ship. If your car has any paint chips or dings you’ll want to make sure this is noted beforehand. Most reputable shippers will allow you to fill out a form noting any existing damage as well (much like moving into a new apartment). If you want to really safeguard yourself, it may be worth snapping some photos of the car in case any disputes arise later on about damages.
  2. If your car leaks oil or any other fluids, make sure the driver knows so they can take the necessary steps to avoid a mess.
  3. Turn off any alarms and non-OEM electronics. You’ll want to make sure your shipper doesn’t trip your alarm while in transit and turning off any additional electronics will make certain you don’t drain your battery.
  4. Use some gas. Why make your car heavier? Run the tank down before getting shipped to make for a more efficient move.
  5. Remove ALL of your belongings. If you’ve got CDs, golf clubs or anything else of value, you’ll want to remove any possible issues of loss or theft by removing them from the vehicle before it gets shipped.
  6. If your vehicle has a retractable antenna, make sure it’s in the down position. Likewise, make sure any convertible tops are securely snapped up, wide mirrors turned in and windows completely rolled up to avoid any other damage during shipping.
  7.  Operationally, make sure your transporters are aware of any quirks the car has. If the car has issues starting sometimes or if it jerks when put into reverse, for example, would be helpful for your shippers to know.
  8. Make sure your battery is charged and your tires are properly inflated before the car is shipped.

Many of these may seem like common sense, but if you’re in a situation where you’re moving everything that you own, it can be easy to let some of these small details slip through the cracks. The general rule of thumb, though, is to avoid any potential issues with documentation, communication and simple maintenance.

If you’re looking for companies that can ship your vehicle, here are some links that may prove helpful:

(carrier image credit to turbosquid)

2 responses to "How to Ship a Vehicle"


  1. Brenna C. Day on August 7, 2013 at 1:21 am

    Plan your auto to be loaded on and off your auto transporter’s truck or trailer to help them ship your auto without breaking a sweat. Keep in mind that the better you arrange your auto for shipment, the more probable it will arrive on time and without harm.

  2. Alan on May 15, 2019 at 4:06 pm

    These are good basic tips for preparing your car for shipping, but you can find a lot more information from a good website for an auto transport company. A-1 Auto Transport is one I’ve used and their website has similar articles to this one that are more detailed as well as ones that cover other related topics. It’s a good place to look if you’re shipping a car if you’re not sure how it works, what it costs, and so on.

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