How To Ship a Vehicle: The Full Process

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How To Ship a Vehicle: The Full Process

Transporting a car is a complex process which involves preparation (planning ahead and scheduling the shipping in advance, cleaning out the car, inspecting it, a suitable checklist can help), transportation (the car has to be delivered or picked up by the shipping company, secured and transported) and delivery right to the customer’s home or picking up by the customer.

shipping-process-infographic

Who needs to transport vehicles?

Auto transport is something that a wide range of people need in cities and states across every country in the world. Here are some of the different types of people who use auto transport companies to ship cars:

  • Families- Families reach out every day across the globe to ship cars to or from new homes, school, work and more.
  • Business Owners– Business owners and their employees often need to travel to new areas for meetings or training. While driving is certainly an option, it is much safer to take a plane and let a pro bring the car, so you can drive it while you’re in town for your business trip.
  • Luxury car owners- Own a luxury car and need to have it relocated during a vacation or for a long-distance move? Professional auto transport is the best way to move a luxury car.
  • Race car owners Race car drivers and their crew often need reliable auto transport to get from one race to the next, and since many race cars need to be shipped frequently, it’s possible to be able to ship for discounted rates for frequent shippers. Best of all, professional transport is insured, which means race car owners won’t need to worry about the safety of the car as it is moving from place to place.
  • Classic car owners- It’s a great feeling to have a little piece of the past by owning a classic car. Classic car owners know that the best way to get their prized car to a show is with safe and secure auto transport.
  • Motorcycle owners- While many riders dream of hopping on their bike and taking a cross country ride, sometimes there are time limits and it’s best to ship it to where the motorcycle owner plans to visit. Auto transport allows a motorcycle to stay safe for the journey and arrive on time to ride locally rather than wasting miles and engine hours on a long and tiresome ride.
  • Athletes- Traveling from city to city for a game can be tiring, and having a car available for personal use is always a plus when you may end up spending several days at a time in one area.
  • Students-Heading off to college is a big step in life, and getting there should be a safe thing to do. Driving to a new city or state can often take hours, and lots of wear and tear on a car. For safety reasons, having a car shipped when you’re heading to college is an ideal way to get the car to the dorms, and frees up time for students to spend time with friends and family or start getting settled in the dorm or student housing quickly. Be sure to ask for a student discount as most transport companies will offer one.
  • Military members- Members of the military, active and retired, often have a need to ship a car to a new location. Whether it’s due to military orders to move to a new base or you’re retired and thinking about moving to your dream home at the beach, transport helps make the move a little smoother and provides a safe way to get a car relocated. Military discounts are available for active and retired members of the military with most auto transport companies.
  • Seniors- seniors love to head to warmer climates during cold weather, and people in your age group are often found vacationing at some of the hottest vacation spots worldwide. If you are a senior who wants to take a nice vacation or move for the winter and you want your car to be available to drive while away, be sure to check out senior discounts and have your car shipped so it will be safe for the journey and ready to drive when you need it.

A-1 Auto Transport, Inc. ships vehicles worldwide. Click here or call 1-800-452-2880 to get a free, no obligation to buy price quote to ship your car.


Auto Transport Is Here When You Need It Most

Auto transport companies specialize in shipping vehicles quickly and safely across the United States and elsewhere.

Anyone who needs a safe, reliable and affordable method of transporting their automobile can benefit from a car transport company. This can include individuals who are moving, military personnel, private corporations, long distance moving companies, as well as numerous car dealerships nationwide.

  1. Planning ahead and scheduling in advance – To ensure delivery in your desired time frame, schedule the shipping as far in advance as possible.
  2. Cleaning out the car – You vehicle needs to be free of any personal items during transport. Transport trucks must meet strict weight requirements and insurance will not cover personal items in the vehicle. Failure to remove all your belongings could result in an extra charge or cause a delay in the transport of your vehicle or both. If the driver is caught at a check point with a car packed full of personal belongings, it can be a cause for the DOT to fine the company and the driver, and this could risk the driver losing his license.
  3. Inspecting your vehicle and making a checklist – An important step in the automobile transportation process is to do a thorough inspection of the vehicle and present it to the auto transit company for acknowledgment before they take possession of the vehicle. It is also a good idea, and highly recommended, to take photos of the car from all angles so you can file the photos away until the car has been delivered. This helps if you suspect there is any cosmetic damage to the car as you will have photographs to show what the condition of the car was at the time the driver took possession for transport.
  4. Ensuring low fuel and removing antennae – Make sure that you have no more than a quarter tank of gas in your vehicle for the transport. More fuel than this can provide an unnecessary safety hazard. Remove any loose parts from the vehicle such as bed liners that are not bolted down, so that they do not get blown off during transport. Any non-retractable antennas must also be removed so that they do not get damaged while in transport.
  5. Delivering the vehicle or having it picked up – The door-to-door delivery which allows for your vehicle to be picked up from its current location and delivered directly to the location of your choosing. If you live in an area that is not safely accessible to our transport trucks, you may be required to meet the transport driver at a nearby location that can accommodate the truck. You can drop-off or pick-up your vehicle at a terminal in most major U.S cities. This is a great option for anyone looking for immediate delivery of their vehicle. You’ll save around $50 off the standard car shipping price when you drop it off or pick it up yourself. This request must be prearranged when placing your order. Either yourself or another designated party must be present upon pick-up of your vehicle. A contract known as the “bill of loading” will need to be signed by you once the vehicle has been loaded for shipment.
  6. Securing the vehicle – Your vehicle is carefully loaded and secured on the transport truck for transport across the country.
  7. Transporting the vehicle – To any of the 50 states or internationally as well! The Department of Transportation limits drivers to 500 miles a day for important safety reasons. Limits as well as weather and road conditions can cause delays in travel, so be prepared to be patient when you have your car shipped as it can take anywhere from several days to several weeks for delivery once it has been picked up and loaded onto the truck or freight ship.
  8. Picking up the vehicle or letting it be delivered – You can pick up your vehicle from a transport station or have it delivered right to your home, usually for an additional fee. Rural areas can sometimes present hazardous road conditions for the large transport trucks, which are typically 80 ft. long, weigh 80,000 lbs., and are built low to the ground. This can limit their ability to maneuver in tight places.

Transport trucks must also avoid any roads that might have overhanging trees because the tree branches could damage the vehicles being transported. For the safety of your vehicle, the truck driver may choose a parking lot or interstate turnout that is as close as possible to the vehicle’s destination. This allows the driver to safely load or unload your vehicle. We leave this decision up to the discretion of our drivers since the driver is responsible for both the safety of the transport truck and the transported vehicles. Occasionally the delivery process can be held up for various reasons –

The Department of Transportation regulates drivers and limits them to a total of 500 miles in a day, which has the potential to affect delivery time. Uncontrollable factors such as mechanical breakdowns, bad weather conditions, and unexpected traffic scenarios can also cause a delay. Planning in advance is the best way to ensure prompt delivery of your vehicle.

Below are approximate prices for shipping to and from various cities in the United States:

The data in the list assumes the following:

  • From: San Francisco, CA
  • Type of Vehicle: Acura CL
  • Operating Condition: Running (Rolls, Steers, and Brakes)
  • Type of Trailer: Open
  • Type of Service: Door-to-Door Service*
  • Cargo Insurance:  Included*

Shipping From: San Francisco, CA
Shipping To: Little Rock, AR
Distance: 1,963 mi
The total price is: $ 1,139

Shipping From: San Francisco, CA
Shipping To: Portland, OR
Distance: 636 mi
The total price is: $ 539

Shipping From: San Francisco, CA
Shipping To: Miami, FL
Distance: 3,110 mi
The total price is: $ 1,099

Shipping From: San Francisco, CA
Shipping To: Detroit, MI
Distance: 2,087 mi
The total price is: $ 1,019

Shipping From: San Francisco, CA
Shipping To: Charleston, WV
Distance: 2,558 mi
The total price is: $ 1,139

Shipping From: San Francisco, CA
Shipping To: Los Angeles, CA
Distance: 382 mi
The total price is: $ 379

Shipping From: Mountain View, CA
Shipping To: Raleigh, NC
Distance: 2,814 mi
The total price is: $1,350

Shipping From: San Pedro, CA
Shipping To: Corpus Christi, TX
Distance: 1,511 mi
The total price is: $1,100

Shipping From: Los Angeles, CA
Shipping To: Atlanta, GA
Distance: 2,177 mi
The total price is: $1,550

Check out our infographic which visualizes the above information. Feel free to save it for yourself or share it with friends. If you would like to post this on your website, just be sure to leave a link back to us.

Joe Webster

Written by Joe Webster

Joe Webster began his journey in the auto transport field by attending the University of Southern California (USC), where he graduated with with a Bachelor of Business Marketing.

After college, he started his career in the auto transport industry from the bottom up and has done virtually every job there is to do at A-1 Auto Transport, Inc., including but not limited to: Truck Driver, Dispatch, Sales, PR, Bookkeeping, Transport Planner, Transport Manager, International Transport Manager, Brokering, Customer Service, and Marketing. Working with his mentor Tony Taylor, Joe Webster has learned the ins and outs of this industry which is largely misunderstood.

With over 30 years experience in the industry, we've been helping people ship their vehicles, motorcycles, RV's, heavy equipment, household goods and more across the country or overseas without a hitch. Ask us anything.

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