5 Tips for Shipping a Vehicle

Explore essential tips for stress-free vehicle shipping, including scheduling, choosing transportation types, insurance, and selecting reliable companies.
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Last update:

March 15, 2024

Shipping a vehicle can be a huge headache. But only if you don’t understand the intricacies of vehicle shipping. 

In this article, we’ll go into five tips for shipping a vehicle, and then go into how to identify a good transportation company so you won’t have any problems.

If you’re ready to learn more about vehicle shipping, read on down below.

5 Tips for Shipping a Vehicle

1. Schedule early

Just like with flights, if you need transport shortly, the prices are going to be higher than normal. 

You’ll also want to prepare yourself to ship your vehicle in the off-season, typically in the winter. During summer, you’ll encounter higher prices as there is more traffic on the road due to more families on vacation. 

Another reason for scheduling early is that if you’re doing international shipping, you can sometimes have to wait a month or more for your vehicle to arrive. Transportation companies also do not deliver on a specific date, but rather a range.

Knowing this, if you have a specific date you need your vehicle, IE: if you’re going to land in your destination country and need your vehicle, it’s best to ship it earlier so it can arrive there. Delays do happen, so plan to keep your vehicle in storage until you arrive.

2. Pick the right type of transportation 

Enclosed trailer

An enclosed trailer is just that, closed. It can typically hold up to 2-4 vehicles at once, protecting your vehicle from any outside damage and preventing onlookers from knowing what’s in the trailer. This is a great way to transport your vehicle if you want a little bit more security and don’t mind paying a bit extra for it when shipping a vehicle.

When shipping a luxury vehicle, an enclosed trailer is recommended. You don’t want to be hauling a Bugatti on an open trailer, as it can bring a lot of unwanted attention and even put your vehicle at risk of theft.

The biggest downside of an enclosed trailer is that it costs much more than an open trailer, as the amount of vehicles being towed is far less than an open trailer, thus resulting in higher costs.

Open trailer

An open trailer is what you have likely seen going up and down the interstate, hauling 10-12 vehicles at a time. It’s the most economical form of shipping and is preferred by anyone who wants to save a bit of cash during the shipping process.

Your vehicle will be susceptible to weather damage as well as vulnerable to theft. While vehicles are typically insured, it will cause a headache for you if your vehicle drives through a hail storm and is bombarded, leaving it damaged.

Some insurance does not cover this type of damage, so if you’re worried about the value of your vehicle, then going for the open trailer may not be a good idea. However, if you’re shipping a typical vehicle, then an open trailer is preferred for being the economical option.

3. Check insurance

It’s important to verify the amount of insurance that you’re going to be covered with by the transportation company. All transport companies work differently, so you will need to verify each one independently. If they are not giving you straightforward answers, then that means you should look into the next option.

The type of insurance can also vary between carriers, and some broker companies don’t offer insurance at all (even though they claim to). Always ask to see the certificates and guarantees before signing any contract, and never ship a vehicle uninsured.

4. Prepare your vehicle

Before you hand over your vehicle, you must start by washing it on the outside. This is so you can take photographs before you hand over the vehicle so you have evidence of the state the vehicle was in. You want to have physical proof of the state of the vehicle so that if there is an accident, they don’t try to claim that the vehicle was already damaged before shipping.

You also want to remove any valuables on the inside (including the trunk and the glovebox) as most transportation services like A1 Auto Transport do not cover personal belongings with their insurance. 

After that’s done, you want to make sure any loose objects outside the vehicle like roof boxes or tires are taken off and put into the trunk for safekeeping. You must also remove any excess gas you have so that the tank reads at 1/4th capacity.

It’s also a good time to consider cleaning the inside of your vehicle. Once all of this is done, you’re all set to hand over your vehicle to shipping.

5. Review the contract and bill of lading

Before you sign any contract (if you haven’t already), it’s a good idea to give it a brief read. You want to make sure that it matches all the details you’ve been given until now. You do not want to sign a contract that has a higher than-stated initial price, so always ask for a flat rate quote when shopping around.

Double-check that everything is correct, including the pick-up and delivery locations, as well as the vehicle condition and any problems that were addressed. If everything lines up with your internal investigation, then sign the contract and wait patiently for your vehicle to arrive at the destination address. 

What Makes a Good Auto Transportation Company?

Online Presence 

One of the first tasks for identifying a good transportation company is to check its online presence. How long have they been around, and are they licensed and insured by the Department of Transport and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration? 

You can check their documentation on the FMCSA’s website as well as the Department of Transport. They should have records to pull up to identify if the transportation company in question is licensed and insured. 

The problem in today’s environment is that many fly-by-night online websites are only there to provide leads for other companies. It’s always best to do your research ahead of time to ensure that you’re working with a legitimate company rather than a shell company.

Multiple Shipping Options

Multiple shipping options like enclosed and open trailers, terminal shipping, international and domestic, and luxury shipping show that the transportation company understands the finer details of vehicle shipping. It’s a sure sign that they know how to run an operation and are well-versed in many types of operations that can help transport vehicles from point A to point B.

Not every company ships all vehicles either, so it’s important to verify if your boat, ATV, RV, SUV, or even a plane is capable of being transported by the company you’re looking at working with. 

Many Different Deals

A good transport company is going to offer many different car shipping deals. For instance, let’s assume you want to ship more than one vehicle, then a great transport company is going to offer a deal that will lower the cost of shipping by up to 35% (or more in some cases). 

Not only that, it is typical for transport companies to offer student, military, senior, and even disability discounts. All that’s required from you is to inquire into them, and to get your free quote so you can enjoy up to 35% off depending on the carrier you end up working with.


It’s paramount that the transportation company you work with offers great insurance. You may not be fully insured depending on the vehicle cost, so it’s always vital that you double-check beforehand how much insurance is going to be covered.

What happens typically is that your vehicle is insured up to $50,000 and in some cases, $100,000. You want to know the details of this insurance, if it will be insured the entirety of the time or only if it’s loaded onto the vehicle.

If you’re looking to ship a luxury vehicle, then you’ll have to spend a bit more to fully insure the entirety of your vehicle. You do not want to ship your vehicle partially insured as accidents and thefts do happen, so it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Offers Flat Rates

It’s not uncommon for shady transportation companies to avoid offering flat rates. This is so they can employ bait-and-switch pricing, which you’ll be unhappy to realize the moment they come to collect your vehicle.

Always ask for a flat rate quote that’s guaranteed and never put any money down, otherwise, you may have to suddenly shell out another 25% for the sudden increase in pricing. If they don’t offer flat rates, then take your business elsewhere. 

Final Thoughts

The number one tip when it comes to shipping a vehicle is to always do your due diligence and make sure that you work with a reputable vehicle transportation company. There are many horror stories of vehicles arriving much later than advertised and leaving the customer with a huge headache.

Not only that, bait and switch tactics do happen, and so do no-shows. All of these can be prevented by choosing a reputable transport company that has a great online presence. Take a bit more time than you’re used to verifying everything is going as it should be, and shipping a vehicle should be as easy as 1-2-3.

While entire vehicle transportation requires you to select the transport company carefully, for those who need to ship auto parts or small accessories, ShipSaving offers a reliable and efficient solution. Utilizing ShipSaving platform, you’ll benefit from convenient online operations, a variety of shipping options, and competitive shipping rates.

Written on:

March 15, 2024
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