The Ultimate Guide to Shipping Your Car to Another State

Are you planning a move to another state and wondering how to transport your car? Moving your vehicle across state lines can be a complex process, but with the right knowledge and preparation, it can be a smooth and hassle-free experience. In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through the steps involved in shipping your car to another state, provide valuable tips and insights, and help you make informed decisions throughout the process.

Understanding the Different Methods of Car Transport

When it comes to shipping your car to another state, you have two main options: open car transport and enclosed car transport. Each method has its own advantages and considerations.

Open Car Transport

Open car transport is the most common and cost-effective method of shipping a car. It involves transporting your vehicle on an open trailer, exposed to the elements. While this method is generally safe and reliable, it does come with a few risks. Your car may be exposed to road debris, weather conditions, and potential damage from other vehicles.

Enclosed Car Transport

If you have a luxury, classic, or high-value vehicle, you may opt for enclosed car shipping. This method provides your car with an extra layer of protection by shipping it in an enclosed trailer. Enclosed transport offers added security from weather damage, road debris, and potential scratches. However, it is a more expensive option compared to open transport.

Choosing a Reputable Auto Transport Company

Selecting a reliable and reputable auto transport company is crucial to ensuring a smooth and secure car shipping experience. Here are some key factors to consider when choosing a company:

Research and Compare

Take the time to research and compare multiple auto transport companies. Look for companies that have positive customer reviews, a proven track record, and transparent pricing policies. Websites like Yelp and other online aggregators can provide valuable insights into the reputation and reliability of different companies.

Consider Services Offered

Not all auto transport companies offer the same services. Some may specialize in specific types of vehicles or routes. Before making a decision, ensure that the company you choose provides the services you require, such as open or enclosed transport, door-to-door delivery, or terminal-to-terminal delivery.

Get Multiple Quotes

Obtain quotes from several auto transport companies to compare prices and services. Be wary of companies that offer significantly lower prices than their competitors, as this could be an indicator of subpar service or hidden fees. Remember, the goal is to find a balance between quality service and affordability.

Check for Insurance and Licensing

Verify that the auto transport company is properly licensed and insured. All carriers and brokers must be registered with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Check the company’s registration status on the FMCSA website to ensure compliance.

Booking Your Car Shipment

Once you have chosen an auto transport company, it’s time to book your car shipment. Here’s what you need to know:

Plan Ahead

It is recommended to schedule your car shipment as early as possible. This allows for better availability, competitive pricing, and a smoother overall process. Last-minute bookings may be possible but could come with higher rates and limited options.

Provide Necessary Information

When booking your car shipment, you will need to provide certain information to the auto transport company. This typically includes:

  • Vehicle details: Year, make, model, and operability of the car.
  • Pickup and delivery dates: Specify the desired pickup and drop-off dates.
  • Pickup and drop-off locations: Provide the exact addresses or nearest terminals for convenience.
  • Shipping preferences: Choose between open or enclosed transport based on your needs and budget.
  • Contact information: Provide your contact details for easy communication throughout the process.

Review the Contract

Before finalizing the booking, carefully review the contract provided by the auto transport company. The contract should include details such as the quoted price, estimated delivery date, cancellation policies and fees, claims procedures, and insurance coverage. If anything is unclear or does not align with your expectations, seek clarification or request necessary changes before signing the contract.

Preparing Your Vehicle for Shipping

Properly preparing your vehicle for shipping is essential to ensure its safety and minimize the risk of damage during transport. Follow these steps before handing over your car:

Conduct a Thorough Inspection

Before shipping your car, thoroughly inspect it for any existing dents, scratches, or issues. Take detailed photographs from different angles to document the condition of the vehicle. This will serve as evidence in case of any new damage during transport.

Remove Personal Items

Remove all personal belongings from your car. Auto transport companies are not responsible for items left in the vehicle, and they may not be covered by insurance. Clear out the trunk, glove compartment, and any other compartments to prevent theft or damage.

Reduce Fuel and Fluid Levels

It is recommended to keep your car’s fuel level between a quarter and a half tank. This reduces the weight of the vehicle and makes loading and unloading easier. Additionally, ensure that the car’s fluids are at appropriate levels to avoid leaks or spills during transport.

Disable Alarms and Remove Accessories

Disable any car alarms or anti-theft systems to prevent unnecessary activation during transport. Remove any aftermarket accessories, such as spoilers, bike racks, or roof racks, as they can be easily damaged or cause interference during loading and unloading.

Dropping Off Your Vehicle for Transport

When it’s time to drop off your vehicle for transport, follow these steps to ensure a smooth handover:

Meet with the Transport Driver

When the transport driver arrives, both you and the driver should inspect the vehicle together. Carefully note any existing damage on the bill of lading, which serves as the official receipt of your shipment. Take your time to document any issues or concerns and ensure that both parties sign the document.

Obtain a Copy of the Bill of Lading

Make sure to request a copy of the bill of lading from the transport driver. This document is essential for filing a claim in case of new damage to your vehicle upon delivery. Keep it in a safe place and retain it until the car is delivered and inspected at the final destination.

Stay Updated on Your Shipment

Some auto transport companies offer tracking options to keep you informed about the progress of your shipment. This can be through tracking apps, email updates, or direct communication with the carrier or broker representatives. Stay in touch with the company to stay updated on the estimated delivery date and any potential delays.

Receiving Your Vehicle at the Destination

When your vehicle arrives at the destination, follow these steps to ensure a smooth retrieval process:

Inspect the Vehicle

Thoroughly inspect your vehicle for any new damage or issues upon delivery. Compare its condition to the documentation made during the initial inspection. If you notice any new damage, document it and notify the transport driver immediately.

Paying for the Shipment

In most cases, payment is made at the time of delivery. Be prepared to pay the transport driver with cash, a money order, or a cashier’s check, as per the agreed-upon terms. Ensure that you have the necessary funds ready to complete the transaction.

Contact the Transport Company

If you encounter any issues or have concerns after receiving your vehicle, contact the auto transport company promptly. Provide them with the relevant documentation, such as the bill of lading and any evidence of new damage, to initiate the claims process if necessary.


Shipping your car to another state can be a convenient and efficient way to transport your vehicle during a move. By understanding the different methods of car transport, choosing a reputable auto transport company, properly preparing your vehicle, and following the necessary steps for drop-off and pickup, you can ensure a smooth and secure car shipping experience. Remember to research and compare multiple companies, obtain detailed car shipping quotes, and carefully review contracts before making your final decision. With proper planning and attention to detail, you can confidently ship your car to another state and focus on settling into your new location.

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