How to Ship a Car

Follow these precautions to make sure your car, truck, ATV, tractor or other type of vehicle is transported properly and with qualified transporters.


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    Wash your car thoroughly even if will be shipped on an open trailer. You want to be able to note any chips, dings, nicks or other cosmetic damage accurately.
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    Remove any personal items from your car.
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    Shut off or disable the car alarm.
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    Don't fill the gas tank of the car. If the tank is low, between 1/8th to 1/4th of a tank, this will save quite a bit of weight.
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    Secure or remove any loose parts or specialty items from your car such as ground effects, spoilers, or fog lights.
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    If you have wide mirrors, fold them back.
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    Lower and remove/retract the antennae.
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    Ship convertibles with the top up and secured properly. Try to seal any holes or open seams in the top to prevent air or moisture from causing damage. If you cannot raise the top, you should attempt to cover it with a secure fitting tarp that can resist high winds.
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    Make sure the battery is charged, that the tires have proper inflation and top off all of the fluids on the vehicle and let the driver know if there are any leaks.
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    Prepare a careful list of any operational problems or steps necessary to start, stop, or drive your vehicle on and off of the trailer.
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    Make a complete report of any pre-existing damage your vehicle may have. You may want to go as far as taking pictures (and dating them) of the vehicle prior to shipping it.


  • Locate a vehicle transporter that has credibility and experience.
  • Know the different methods of shipping a vehicle:
    • An open trailer is uncovered, more frequently used and is normally cheaper than closed trailers. However, your vehicle will be exposed to the elements of nature while being transported.
    • A closed trailer is a vehicle that has a covered freight area, and is most commonly used when shipping an expensive vehicle or classic car that you wish to protect. If your vehicle will be traveling cross-country and going through some dry and desert territory, you may consider using a closed trailer to protect it from wind-blown sand and heat. Note that closed trailers usually cost much more.
  • Price is usually determined by the distance the car is being shipped and the popularity of the route.
  • Ask several questions until you feel comfortable with your driver and with the price that the shipment/transportation will cost.


  • For commercial shippers, be sure you understand exactly the nature of the "estimate" for shipping costs, as some unscrupulous shippers may try to levy a separate charge later.
  • Cars leaking oil, brake or transmission fluid should never be on the top of a two deck open trailer. This is to prevent leaks onto the paint of vehicles below.
  • Carefully read the import taxes of where you are moving to when you ship the car. Some of the import taxes can be extremely expensive to the point where using public transit is the only answer to get around.
  • Some countries may require you to pay an import tax prior to drive a car from different foreign countries in their country. For example you might have to pay one if you drive from the US to Canada or Mexico or from Malaysia to Singapore. Breaking this law can lead to being pulled over by the police and the car might get confiscated plus you may have to pay heavy fines along with the import tax if there is one before you are allowed to leave . You should contact the embassy of the country you are moving to about any restrictions on driving cars from other countries along with the required taxes. This includes shipping also.

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Categories: Cars