That’s a Bit Too Big for the Mail: How to Ship a Car to Your New Home During a Move

ship a car

We are a country on the move with 40 million Americans moving each year. Many of these people move further than across the city, they pick up their family and move across the country. 

When it comes to long distance moves, knowing how to ship a car can save you time and frustration. Not sure how the process works? We can help! 

Keep reading for a step by step guide to shipping your vehicle across the country. 

Know Your Information 

Before you get started, you need to have your information and needs to be sorted out. Start with what vehicle you need to be shipped. Carriers will want you to know the year, make, model, and VIN for the car. 

Next, what is the origin and destination for your shipment? If you are unsure of an exact address for the destination, do you at least know the city? 

Finally, know your timeline. Freight shipping is notoriously unreliable when it comes to sticking to deadlines. Car transport companies will want to deliver and drop vehicles in an order that is more cost saving for them. 

Standard shipping times for vehicles can be many weeks and well over a month. If you need a delivery date faster than this, prepare to pay a premium. 

If you need your vehicle delivered by a specific date you need to let the carrier know this. You should expect to pay a premium for a guaranteed delivery date. 

Choose Your Truck Type 

There are two types of trucks that ship vehicles. There are enclosed trucks and open trailers. 

Enclosed trucks provide the greatest amount of protection and security for your vehicle. After the truck is loaded, it is closed and locked until delivery. You will pay more for this service. 

Your other option is to ship your vehicle on an open trailer. This will cost less, but also expose your vehicle to weather, road debris, and possible theft. 

Choose Your Shipping Company

When it comes to choosing a shipping company, it isn’t just about finding the lowest price. You need to make sure you select a reputable company. 

Verify Everything 

Do your research into potential companies by looking them up on the SAFER System. Here you will get a company snapshot that includes a profile, safety rating, crash history, and everything you need to know about the company. 


Ask your current car insurance company if they cover shipping your car. Then ask the carriers what insurance they carry. 

Your carrier is liable for your vehicle during shipment, so make sure your car is covered. Otherwise, you’re out of luck if anything happens during shipment to your car. 

You have a right to ask for proof of insurance and the carrier’s Motor Carrier Number (MC Number). So if the carrier balks or refuses, take this as a red flag and move along. 


Don’t select your shipping truck company based purely on the rate quoted. It is better to pay more for a reliable company. 

To understand your rate, there are a few different factors that go into it. First is the distance of your shipment. The further your car needs to go, the more it will cost. If your vehicle needs to go somewhere outside of their main shipping lanes, this will cost more too. 

Especially large vehicles will cost more to ship. Along with vehicles that need special accommodations such as the car doesn’t run. 


Start by asking the people you know and trust. See if they have used a company that they had a positive experience with. 

If you don’t know anyone, you can look online for reviews. Keep in mind that things beyond a company’s control happen when shipping. What is important is how the company handled the situation. 


Brokers are independent third parties that help shippers find discount rates from carriers. They are not shippers themselves and do not own trucks. 

The advantage of a broker is that they have existing relationships with carriers that can help you land a better rate. The downside is that you have less control over who the carrier is and your car may end up with a shady shipper. 

How to Ship a Car: The Prep Work 

Now that you have your shipment booked, it’s time to prep your vehicle. Now, we know you are moving, and it is super tempting to pack your car solid. 

After all, isn’t this the perfect opportunity to save some money on the movers? This is wrong! 

Car carriers will not ship your vehicle if you have packed it solid with your belongings. In fact, they will tell you to empty the vehicle of your personal belongings. 

Carriers don’t want to be responsible for your stuff. Plus all that extra stuff adds weight to your shipment. The heavier the shipments on the truck, the more expensive it will be for the carrier to transport. 

So clean your car inside and out. When the outside is clean, you can take note of any scratches or damage that is currently on your car. 

You also need to check with your carrier if they require you to drain the gas tank. Some carriers require this; some don’t. But if yours does require it, they won’t ship your car if you forgot to drain your tank. 

The BOL 

A Bill of Lading accompanies every freight shipment, including car transport. This is like a receipt for you and the carrier that lists out all of the details of the shipment. 

You need to have two copies when the driver arrives. You and the driver will sign them, and each keeps a copy. 


Upon delivery, you will again sign the BOL with the driver. Before you do though, check your car! Make sure there is no new damage to your vehicle. 

If there is damage, you need to note it on the BOL. You should also take pictures of the damage at the time of delivery. 

Book Your Car Shipment 

So what are you waiting for? When it comes to moving you have enough things to think about. 

Why not get this one out of the way. After all, shipping a vehicle can take some time, and the sooner you start, the sooner your vehicle will get to your new home. 

Now that you know how to ship a car, you can focus on packing and arranging the shipment of your personal belongings. 

Don’t want to ship your vehicle on a truck? Check out these other ways to ship a vehicle