Shipping Cars: Determining the Cheapest Car Shipping Option

March 5, 2012

Learn about the cheapest methods of shipping cars, and whether or not shipping is a more effective alternative to driving.

For distant moves, shipping cars to your destination may be something you'd like to do, so you don't have to pay for the extra costs of gas or have to deal with the logistical problems of having to haul the car around with you.

What's the Cheapest Way to Ship a Car across the Country?

With a little research and some careful planning, you should be able to ship your car across the country without too much trouble and for a good rate.

Ground Shipping
Probably the single least expensive way to ship your vehicle across the country is to use a ground transportation service. These are the slowest of the different shipping methods, but the result is that the vehicle shipping costs will be minimal. You can find a number of different national ground shipping services by looking online or in the phone directory, and there are more specific local services that operate within smaller regions and areas as well.

Air Shipping
Some air shipping rates may be very cheap as well. This has the added benefit of taking much less time than a ground shipping procedure, and it is in some ways more secure as well. This will likely require that you take a larger amount of time to find the shipping company and service that is right for you, so be prepared to do some research.

For more information about how to best ship a car across the country, visit your local ground, air shipping or courier services. Or, look online and in the phone directory too.

Should I Ship My Car? Pros and Cons of Car Transport

Anyone who's dealt with an overseas or long distance move or car purchase has probably asked themselves if they should go about car shipping. The process of transporting a car on your own can be extremely time consuming and full of frustrations and hassles, even if you're just moving it across the country or to another location that is connected by land. When you add in the fuel costs and other considerations to the total cost of moving your car, you'll find that the expense that you may pay to transport it is as high or higher than the value of the car itself. Many people forgo the personal auto shipping costs by working with a company that specializes in transporting cars. There are several pros and cons to using one of these companies.

Pros of Using a Car Transport Company
One of the pros of using a car transport company is that it makes the process significantly easier for you. Most companies will have you drive the vehicle to a set drop off point near where you live and will take care of all subsequent parts of the moving process. This can be extremely helpful for anyone, but particularly for people who are in the process of relocating their home and other parts of their life. With the use of an experienced car transport company, you don't have to worry about moving your car--you can let someone else do it for you.

Another advantage of a car transport company is that they can transport cars to and from places that you wouldn't have access to. Many local buyers who purchase cars from foreign dealers rely entirely on transport companies to deliver their vehicles to them, as it can be expensive and difficult for these people to travel across the world to pick up their vehicles.

Cons of Using a Car Transport Company
The biggest disadvantage to using a transport company is the associated car transport costs. Moving a car is not a cheap process, regardless of how you do it, but many companies do try to offer good deals. Still, you can expect to pay a sizable amount of money to have your car transported across the country, the state or around the world. The costs depend somewhat upon the type of car, the age of the vehicle, whether it's new or previously owned, and the overall condition of the car.

Another big disadvantage to making use of a car transport service is that these companies don't offer you the peace of mind of dealing with your car yourself. While the incident rate of damage and theft are very low for reputable transport companies, this is nonetheless a problem in rare cases. You can purchase insurance from the car transport company to help defray the costs of damage and other potential problems that may occur, but this adds to the total cost of transporting the vehicle.

How to Ship a Car across the Country

Here we'll walk you through the steps necessary to successfully ship your car across the country.

Get a Quote
Car shipping costs can be high. To make sure you get the best possible car shipping price, it is wise to get quotes from as many auto transport companies as possible. Most of the top companies will give you a quote online; otherwise, you can call to get your quotes. Be sure to give them as many details as possible - the weight of your car, the exact distance traveled and so on - to ensure you get accurate quotes. Ask about any discounts or special offers each company may have.

Make Your Reservation
Once you have selected your auto transport company, it's time to make your driveaway reservation. Book as far in advance as possible. This will help ensure that you get the date you want.

Confirm the Reservation
A few days before the car is set to be transported, call the auto transport company to confirm your reservation. Go over all of the details with the customer service representative: The pickup time, the pickup location, the destination location and the agreed upon price. This would also be a good time to ask any further questions you may have about cross country car shipping.

Step 4: Perform an Inspection
If possible, perform an inspection of the car before it is shipped. Once the car is shipped to you, do a thorough inspection upon its arrival. Look the car over for any damage that wasn't there before the transport. Get into the car and inspect the interior, then start up the car and make sure the engine sounds okay. Make sure you perform this inspection before you sign for the car. You should not be held accountable for any damage that occurred during shipping.

Sign the Bill of Lading
Once the car has arrived and you have performed your inspection and are happy with the condition of the car, you can go ahead and sign your bill of lading. By signing this, you are stating that the car was delivered to you in the condition in was in before shipping. Once you sign the bill of lading, the auto transport company is no longer liable for any damages to the car.

Shipping a car across the country sounds far more complicated than it actually is. If you follow these simple steps, you can successfully transport your car across the country.

Shipping Vehicles to Hawaii or Alaska
When shipping vehicles to Hawaii or Alaska, different shipping companies require additional points before agreeing to domestic car shipping--both interstate and port-to-port. You will have some responsibility to make sure your vehicle stays safe, but following the recommended guidelines will assure that you've taken care of your portion of the necessary details.

Items Required for Port-to-Port Car Shipping
In order to make your experience with shipping vehicles as smooth as possible, there are some items you must present to the auto shipping carrier before shipment of the vehicle to Hawaii or Alaska. You must provide keys to all locking compartments, including the glove box and gas tank, as well as ignition and trunk keys. It may be a good idea to make copies of these keys and provide those to the shipping company. They may also require copies of your original vehicle title and registration. If your vehicle is financed or leased, you will need a notarized statement of notification from your bank that they are aware the vehicle is being shipped. If you are shipping a vehicle that you don't own, you must present a letter of authorization from the owner or owners, and the owner must have a photo ID when present to pick up the vehicle.

Preparations for Shipment
Special preparations are needed for shipping vehicles interstate, but especially so when shipping to Hawaii or Alaska. Your gas tank must be less than a quarter tank full. Vehicles that are diesel or propane powered require additional special handling. You must remove all personal items that are not permanently mounted to the car. This includes items from inside the car and also the trunk. Your vehicle must have six inches of ground clearance, be in safe operating condition with properly inflated tires and operational brakes, steering and transmission, and if it has an alarm system, this must be disconnected before shipment.

Special Points to Transport a Car to Hawaii
There are special considerations when shipping vehicles to Hawaii. Firstly, rates may be higher, due to the additional protection provided to keep your vehicle safe from the elements. When shipping to Hawaii, your vehicle will be placed in an enclosed container to avoid contact with salt, dust or other contaminants. Also, all owners will need to be present to ship and/or pickup the vehicle. If all owners cannot be present, the shipping company requires a notarized letter to authorize shipment. You may also want to purchase additional insurance as the carrier may not be liable for damages over a certain amount.

Special Points to Transport a Car to Alaska
With port-to-port services for Alaska, the procedure for shipping vehicles may vary. One important point regards winter protection of your vehicle. In addition to all of the other considerations for port-to-port shipping, when shipping to Alaska you must be sure to protect your battery and radiator from possible freezing conditions.

How to Ship a Car to Another Country

Whether you're in the military, a dependent or you work for a company with offices in a number of countries, there may come a day when you'll need to ship a car to another country. When you're considering overseas car shipping, there are a few things you'll need to keep in mind. Below you will find some information that you may find helpful when looking for a company to provide an international car shipping service. Be aware that certain customized vehicles will cost more to move than stock vehicles. This includes customizations such as lift kits, lowering and oversized wheels.

Customs Issues
Whenever you attempt to bring something, no matter what it is, from one country to another, it's going to have to go through customs. Some of the documents that are required and the issues that you'll encounter aren't ones that the average person is going to be able to handle alone. When you're looking for a company to use for overseas car shipping, you should make sure you work with a company that is both well established and has a good reputation in the industry.

Company Reliability
Ask each company you talk with for references, if available. Also, research each company you consider well with the Better Business Bureau, as well as the Department of Transportation. Make sure the company has been in business for awhile and that it has a proven track record. Before you make a decision, thoroughly review the documents you receive, especially the fine print. Make sure there aren't any hidden fees. Make sure the company carries an international bond, license and insurance. Ask for references, if available.

Choosing a Company to Use
Remember that the lowest quote isn't always going to be the best company to go with. Certain fees and taxes may not be included in that quote. Also, most shippers are just brokers. They all use the same primary shipping companies. These primary companies won't accept a lowest bid for a shipping fee. It's a good idea to pick a quote that lies somewhere in the middle while still offering all the conveniences and options you want or need.

Preparing Your Car
After you've made your decision as to what company you'll be giving your business to, you'll need to prepare your car for transport. Sometimes this won't entail anything more than making sure there isn't anything in the passenger compartment that can be stolen or lost. Other times this will extend to emptying the trunk also. Make sure you ask the company agent for an exact list of what is required of you for vehicle preparation. Make sure the registration, title and insurance on your car are all up to date.

Above you have been given some tips to keep in mind when you need to ship a car to another country.

Is Shipping a Truck Different Than a Car?

If you have shipped cars before, but now you are going to be shipping a truck, you may be wondering if shipping a truck is any different from shipping a car. While the process is basically the same for both types of vehicles, there are some key differences between how trucks and SUV's are shipped and how normal sized cars are shipped. The following will provide information on those differences, and the actions you need to take to account for them.

Shipping a Car
Smaller cars are transported in a large carrier that is accessible through a system of movable ramps. These carriers have a rough and uneven surface for storing the cars, and the cars are packed tightly together to conserve space. To prepare your car for entering and exiting the carrier, you should remove any protruding antennas or ground effects, and make sure there are no low-hanging objects that could drag on uneven surfaces.

Shipping a Truck
Trucks and SUV's usually sit high enough that they can easily be loaded into an auto carrier without endangering the bottom of the vehicle. However, since they are bigger and heavier, they will cost more to ship than a car. Also, you should measure your truck before you have it shipped, and provide those dimensions to the shipping company to make sure they use a suitable carrier. The final difference between shipping a truck or SUV and shipping a car is that bigger vehicles are more likely to sustain damage than smaller ones during transportation.

Related Questions and Answers

What Kind of International Shipping Insurance is Available for Cars?

There are two types of international shipping insurance available when shipping a car internationally: limited and full insurance. Full insurance protects your vehicle from damage no matter what. Whether the problem is the fault of the shipping company or not. A limited insurance option may also be available. In such an insurance option, the shipping company may not be liable for damage caused by extremities out of its control, such as natural disasters or weather. However, the term limited insurance may refer to any type of insurance coverage that doesn't cover 100 percent of the problems associated with international shipping.

Are there Risks to Shipping a Car to Alaska Due to the Climate?

Shipping a car to Alaska, depending on the time of year, of course, does entail some rather large risk. First, you'll have to make sure that all of the fluids in the vehicle are compatible with temperatures that can nail 25 to 40-below and stay there. The best way to ship is to insert some sort of inert gas in the engine, brake and cooling system, as well as dismounting the vehicle from the tires to ensure they do not flat spot (filling them and the gasoline system with the same inert gas wouldn't be a bad idea). This will ensure nothing freezes up or flattens out on the way. Also, it would be a good idea to containerize it.

What is a Well Known Affordable Car Transport Company?

car transport company which is affordable in nature, is not limited to one number. The are many such companies, which includes the following: Auto Shipper US;; BigSkyTransport, based in Montana; Iowa Auto and Shipping Services; and National Transport LLC. There's also the Boston-based American Auto Transporters who will ship a car from any site in the U.S. to another. Some shippers have to use national "head ends", where cars are dropped at the departure point, but AAT will pick up at your house on schedule and deliver it door-to-door. On some of their non-Interstate loops, they may have to hire smaller truckers to get your vehicle delivered, but they will make certain it happens on time.

Do any Manufacturers Provide Free Car Shipping?

If you arrange to pick up special models of Mercedes-Benz or Porsche/Audi autos, such as the European version of the C55 supercar or some high-end BMWs, free car shipping will likely be included with the price of the car, hotel and other accommodations. This is usually only done for some very high-end models. Mercedes-Benz C55, is one possibility, as is the Porsche Panamerica. Indeed, Porsche/Audi is the manufacturer with the longest history of shipping special vehicles back to America after you fly over to Europe to pick them up. Volvo has had a history of the same behavior, but it is not very likely now that they are in the Ford Division.

What are Some Car Shipping Charges to be Aware of?

Although you may think you have negotiated a price that will bring your car from Point A to Point B for say $800, you may suddenly find that you have an extra $500 in car shipping charges on your bill. The reason is that Point B is not on an Interstate or easily traveled route, and the shipper has had to hire a special subcontractor to bring your vehicle the last 50 miles. Yes, even 50 miles can add hundreds to your shipping bill if the delivery point is far away from the normal port of delivery. Also, be careful - especially with gas prices pushing a gallon of gasoline over $3.00 - that you are not hit with a special gas fee. Make sure the shipper charges only what was agreed to and no more. Pay note, too, that they don't hit you with damage fees they may have caused themselves in the shipping. As in using a car carrier that is too low for your vehicle in the middle.

What Companies Specialize in Antique Car Shipping?

Antique car shipping is a very specialized business because it is far more than just putting your 2010 Honda Civic up on a ramp truck and hauling it to Yazoo City. Antique car shippers, aside from being bonded, have specialized haulers and tie downs that will minimize pressure on some parts of the vehicle. They will also work closely with you to ensure that your antique arrives in quality condition. Three major national firms that specialize in antique shipping include, believe it or not, Fed Ex Custom Shipping, whose Passport program has been shipping antique and vintage cars for 40 years. There is also Classic Car Transport, LLC that offers all the features of the others, and which you can ship in an open or closed truck to all 50 states. Classic Car is located in Kansas and Classic Car Transport, LLC is in Missouri. FedEx is headquartered in Tennessee.

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