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Slash Moving Costs: Top 10 Car Shipping Secrets for 2024

Hit the road without your ride? No way! Uncover the savvy secrets to shipping your car that'll save your wallet and your sanity on your next big move. Buckle up for a smooth journey!

Tobi Miles
June 3, 2023

Shipping your car can be a stressful process because of how much research and preparation takes. However, it’s often necessary and worth the cost compared to driving thousands of miles. Before you ship your car, you need to consider several key tips that can help you save money.

Compare car shipping companies by price per mile, online reviews, and accreditation. Gather your ID, car title, and proof of insurance to provide to the carrier before they pick up your car. You can save money if you ship your car in an open trailer, which typically costs between $0.40 and $1 per mile depending on the carrier.

Make sure to empty the gas tank and clean your car out before they pick it up. Ask the carrier if you can store items in the trunk and car. Follow along as we highlight 10 need-to-know tips for shipping a car to save money.

How Do I Prepare For Shipping My Car?

1. Do Your Homework

There is no shortage of car shipping companies to choose from, but that doesn’t mean that they’re all great. Luckily, it’s easier than ever to find valuable information about the best car shipping companies online. Compare prices, policies, and reviews of several companies before you choose the best one for you.

Sites like Market Watch have compiled lists of the best car shipping companies and sorted them based on prices and reviews. Generally, it helps to stick with companies that are Better Business Bureau accredited as they are often the most reliable. You can save money with local car shipping companies in many cases, but it’s still worth comparing their reviews and prices with competitors.

2. Check For Insurance

Not only do you need insurance to ship a car, but you should make sure the company you choose has adequate insurance. Shipping a car is quite expensive, but that pales in comparison to repairing a car that falls off a trailer. Prestigious shipping companies and brokers are transparent and should present proof of insurance if you request it.

It’s also worth checking with your insurance company to make sure that you are adequately protected if something goes wrong. Car shipping companies typically have up to $1,000,000 or more in coverage, so you have nothing to worry about if you choose wisely.

3. Make Plans

It can take a long time for your car to get to its final destination when you ship it. Shipping the car is only half the battle as you may have to wait up to a month for it to get to you. This can leave you without a car for a while if you get to your destination before the car does.

That’s why it’s important to plan and arrange for transportation if you need a car before then. Speak with your broker or shipping company and request an estimate of how long it will take for the car to arrive. Delays are common as these companies typically take large hauls of cars that they drop off in several states along the way.

4. Choose the Right Time

The time of year that you ship your car ultimately makes a big difference in how much you’ll spend. You will have no choice if it’s an emergency, but you can save money if you ship your car during the fall and winter. Car shipping is much more common in spring and summer, and most companies and brokers charge extra during this time.

5. Gather Your Information

Any reputable car shipping company will request key information to verify that the car is yours. This covers them in case someone tries to ship a stolen car. The company will most likely ask for your driver’s license, registration, title, and proof of insurance.

You won’t be able to ship your car without these documents. They typically only require you to present the documents when they come to pick up your car. Make sure that you have all of this information handy when they come to pick up the car so there are no delays.

6. Empty Your Tank

Depending on the company you choose, they may require you to nearly empty your gas tank. You can leave enough gas for you to drive the car when it gets to the destination, but it should be mostly empty. Because your car will sit on a trailer with other cars, you need to make sure that it weighs as little as possible.

Car shipping companies don’t want to ship any extra weight in your car and on the trailer. Simply drive around as much as possible in the days before you ship your car so the tank is close to empty while leaving enough for you to drive when you get it back. It’s worth asking the company you use about their gas tank policy because some services may not have strict rules about it.

7. Read the Rules

Car shipping companies often impose strict rules. It’s important to familiarize yourself with the rules because they can deny you service if you show up and your car isn’t in the right condition. For example, many shipping companies don’t let you ship your car with anything inside of it.

In that case, they will turn you away if they go to pick it up and it’s full of items. Other companies have rules about how much stuff you can put in the car. The standard for many services is that items cannot extend past the seats, but some companies only let you put personal items in the trunk.

8. Consider the Trailer

Cars are shipped via trailers that are either closed or open. Open trailers leave your car exposed to the elements whereas closed trailers provide more protection. It costs more to ship your car in a closed trailer, but this is a popular option for car enthusiasts, especially if they are shipping pricey cars.

You can save money when shipping a car on an open trailer. The only downside to shipping with an open trailer is that there is a bigger risk that your car will suffer damage or even get stolen. Weigh your options and consider whether or not it’s worth paying extra for a closed trailer.

9. Clean Your Car Out

It’s important to clean your car out before you ship it. The person hauling your car will have to drive it onto the trailer. You will only make their job easier if your car is in good condition, and it’s just a common courtesy.

Double-check your car as you clean it to make sure you aren’t leaving any important items behind. This includes your GPS, charging cable, CDs, sunglasses, and even snacks or accessories.

10. Take Pictures

Take pictures of your car before shipping it to document the condition it’s in before it leaves your hands. This will protect you in case your car suffers damage during its journey to the destination. Compare the pictures of your car to its condition when it arrives.

In most cases, your car will be fine, but it’s worthwhile to take pictures in case something goes wrong. Reputable car shipping companies are typically honest and will notify you if something happens to your car. However, mild cosmetic damage is still common when shipping a car, so it’s worth the time to take precautions.

How Much Does It Cost to Ship a Car?

The average cost to ship a car is $1,270 for a trip between 1,200 and 2,000 miles. You will have to spend several hundred dollars more to ship your car on a closed trailer, however. Some companies, like Montway Auto Transport charge as little as $980 to ship your car 1,500 miles.

Shipping companies charge an average of $0.55 per mile, but they can charge up to $1.90 per mile. Some carriers charge as little as $0.40 per mile. This depends on the time of year, car size, and the carrier you use.

Mileage is one of the biggest cost factors in shipping a car, so long trips can be quite expensive. For example, shipping a car from Los Angeles to Chicago typically costs at least $1,100 because the journey is over 2,000 miles.

How Do I Know if a Transport Company is Legit?

You can tell that a transport company is legit if they are registered as a motor carrier. Most shipping companies list their credits and registration on their website. However, it’s worth asking a carrier to provide proof of their accreditation if it isn’t immediately available.

It also helps to check online reviews to get an idea of their reputation. Contact the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration if you have questions about a particular carrier’s reputation. They regulate the industry, and any good car shipping company is accredited by them.

Final Thoughts

Research several car shipping companies and compare online reviews before you choose one. Make sure they are accredited and insured so you are covered in the event of damage or theft. Read the rules and check whether or not you can store items in your car when you ship them.

Clean your car out and empty the gas tank before you ship it so the driver doesn’t have to haul extra weight. Gather your car title, registration, ID, and proof of insurance to show the carrier before you ship your car. You can save money if you ship your car during the fall and winter. Shipping a car costs an average of $1,270, but you can save money if you compare carriers and do some research.

Article updated:
January 5, 2024

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