Driving to your new home isn’t always an option for cross country moves. In some situations, it may be easier and more convenient to ship your vehicle. And while moving a car may seem like a lot of work, it can be easy if you’re prepared. Use the steps below to determine if you need to ship your car, how to find a reliable car transportation service and how to prepare the vehicle for travel.
Step 1. Decide whether to ship or sell
Depending on where and when you’re moving, shipping your car may not be the most practical solution. Instead, it may be best to sell it. But, before making any decisions, consider these questions:
Where am I moving? If you’re moving to Hawaii or Puerto Rico (or some other overseas location), it may be easiest to sell your car and buy another at the destination. Shipping cars across the ocean can be time-consuming and potentially more expensive than buying new.
Do I need a car in my new town? Some people find that using public transportation, biking or walking is the most convenient form of travel in their new city.
When am I moving? Sometimes long-distance moves happen on short notice — which means there may not be enough time to list the vehicle and find a buyer.
What is my vehicle worth? If the cost of shipping exceeds the car's value, it’s probably best to sell it. Use a resource like Kelley Blue Book® to estimate your vehicle’s value.
If you decide to ship your vehicle, start looking for a car transportation service as soon as possible.
Step 2. Find an auto shipping service
When looking for car movers, it’s important to find one that’s dependable, has the appropriate credentials (licensed, bonded and has a valid Motor Carrier number), and can transport your type of vehicle (operable or inoperable). Start by reading online reviews and asking people you trust what they know about each company. Once your choices are narrowed, inquire about their insurance coverage. Here are some questions to ask:
In case of an accident, what types of damages are covered?
Is there a deductible?
Are extra parts covered? (spoilers, hubcaps, etc.)
It’s also a good idea to talk with your auto insurance agent about what they’ll cover during the move. Learn more about car transportation companies and how to choose the right one.
Note: Although U-Pack® doesn’t transport vehicles, we refer anyone with auto shipping needs to Mr. Car Shipper®. Contact them at 877-421-1284 for a quote.
Step 3. Prepare the car for travel
Before cars are loaded for transit, many auto shippers will perform an inspection, and then have customers sign a Bill of Lading (or contract) agreeing to the terms and conditions. To help the inspection go smoothly, follow these tips:
Remove personal items. Because the shipper’s insurance doesn’t cover personal items, it’s illegal for them to transport a vehicle with your belongings inside. To comply with these regulations, make sure to remove everything from the vehicle (don’t forget to check the trunk and hidden compartments). If you have a toll tag, consider removing it from the vehicle, too.
Schedule car maintenance. It’s not unusual for cars to be stacked on the equipment so repair any leaks before transport to prevent fluids from dropping on other vehicles or creating safety hazards. And since your car will be driven during loading and unloading, it’s important that the tire pressure and battery are in good condition, too.
Note any damage. Before loading, the shipper should record all scratches, dents and scuff marks on the vehicle. Wash it before it’s time to move and take multiple photos of any existing damage. The photos will document the vehicle’s condition in case you need to file a claim, and cleaning it will ensure you don’t miss anything.
Take safety precautions. Secure loose parts that could be damaged during transit (mirrors, antennas, convertible tops, etc.), and look in the owner’s manual to learn how to disable the alarm. If the alarm isn’t deactivated and goes off during transit it can distract the driver or lead to a dead battery.
Use or drain fuel. Many companies require the tank to be less than ¼ full when shipping. Drain the fuel or use it up!
Step 4. Receive vehicle at destination
When your vehicle arrives at its destination, inspect it before accepting delivery. Compare the condition and mileage to the initial report and, unless it’s unavoidable, don’t accept the vehicle at night (you’ll have a harder time seeing any damage that may have occurred). If you discover anything that doesn’t match, make certain the driver notes it on the delivery receipt. You’ll need it documented in order to file a claim.
Questions about car shipping?
If you have any questions or concerns about moving a car cross country, leave a comment below. We’re here to help!